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Prof. John McGinnis on Why He Supports Rudy Giuliani for President:

From Prof. John McGinnis -- please see here for more on this feature:

While I am now a resident of Chicago, I lived in New York City for the duration of Rudy Giuliani's mayoralty. My support for his presidential candidacy stems from watching him transform a derelict, sclerotic and dangerous city into the vibrant urban center it is today. He did so by promoting the classical liberal virtues of public order, private accountability and entrepreneurial freedom that are sorely needed at the federal level. His triumph in the face of entrenched ideological, partisan and special interest opposition suggests he can succeed in Washington, making good the old adage that if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.

At the time Rudy Giuliani was elected mayor, New York was in danger of falling apart and becoming an urban shell. Crime was out of control, with more than 2000 murders a year. There were large areas of the city where I was afraid to venture. A growing proportion of the city was on welfare. The Crown Heights riots had revealed the costs of treating people as members of ethnic groups rather than as individuals linked by civic bonds. Because of the low quality of life and high taxes, middle-class citizens were fleeing the city.

Rudy Giuliani turned this all around. He understood that civil order is the foundation of a prosperous and flourishing society and thus focused on policies that radically reduced crime of all kinds. One cannot say of many politicians that there are people alive because of their policies, but without Rudy Giuliani's leadership many walking the streets of New York today would have faced an early death.

Giuliani also understood that personal accountability provided the best opportunities for escaping poverty. He substituted workfare for welfare. Just as there are people were alive today as a result of Giuliani's policies, there are many more who are earning a decent living and self-respect.

But Giuliani did not simply restore order, he recognized that the conditions for enterprise and freedom required substantial tax cuts and deregulation. It is a tribute to the sum of his policy choices that today most New Yorkers want to stay New Yorkers, and that city has once again a claim to being the greatest city in the world.

To be sure, Giuliani is not solely responsible for the revival of New York. Impersonal forces, like the stock market boom and the decline of the crack epidemic, played important contributing roles. But huge forces militated against regeneration as well. Every day New York's leading newspaper delivered a wide range of bad ideas to the doorsteps of its most influential citizens. Its public sector sustained powerful unions with a vested interest in preserving the status quo.

Giuliani personally held these reactionary forces in check with his relentless stress on the sound political principles of civic order, personal accountability and freedom. Like Margaret Thatcher, he forced the opposition to change so that for the foreseeable future no viable politician in the city will advocate a return to the culture of dependency and the toleration of low standards of social conduct.

The values that were at the heart of the Rudy Giuliani's mayoralty would serve him well as President. Just as there needs to be respect for civic order in city for it to thrive there needs to be respect for global order, particularly in an age of weapons of mass destruction, for the United States to be secure.

The mayor's insistence on personal accountability unites social conservatives and libertarians and would help him secure the breadth of the conservative coalition necessary to govern as President. He is also a strong supporter of federalism — the constitutional structure most amenable to that coalition. Federalism simultaneously allows states to choose social norms that serve their citizens and citizens to choose states that serve them the best.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani successfully acted on his understanding that the greatness of America has been that its institutions foster both respect for the rule of law and a love of freedom, including entrepreneurship. A President Giuliani would have both the vision and determination to maintain, renew, and improve these institutions.

Cornellian (mail):
While I am now a resident of Chicago, I lived in New York City for the duration of Rudy Giuliani's mayoralty. My support for his presidential candidacy stems from watching him transform a derelict, sclerotic and dangerous city into the vibrant urban center it is today. He did so by promoting the classical liberal virtues of public order, private accountability and entrepreneurial freedom that are sorely needed at the federal level. His triumph in the face of entrenched ideological, partisan and special interest opposition suggests he can succeed in Washington, making good the old adage that if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.

A great intro paragraph which makes me suspect the prof in question is a good writer in general. It's definitely Rudy's strong suit and if you want to support him, it's a very good reason for doing so.
1.2.2008 12:54pm
Eric @ New York Personal Injury Law Blog (www):
Oddly missing from all this law and order praise is the fact that his predecessor, David Dinkins, hired thousands of cops prior to leaving in 2003. Claiming Rudy "turned it all around" is simply historical revisionism to win a political campaign. No one should confuse it with actual fact.
1.2.2008 1:00pm
Dan Schmutter:
I'd love to know how Professor McGinnis reconciles his claim that Rudy supports "entrpreneurial freedom" and other "classical liberal virtues" with Rudy's wholesale assault on property rights with his outright destruction of the then existing Times Square/42nd Street X-rated movie theaters/peep show, etc. industry, which he literally regulated and litigated right out of existence.

One may well prefer the M&M World/Hershey Store family and tourist friendly environment of today, and I'm sure most of us do. But in no sense can it be said that using the crushing fist of government to drive out a legitmiate and legal industry from an entire section of the city is remotely consistent with respect for "classical liberal virtues" or "entrepreneurial freedom."

Add that to the general heavy handedness the Guiliani adminstration was known for, and Guiliani might well be the least libertarian of the candidates out there.

Dan
1.2.2008 1:09pm
Anderson (mail):
"Giuliani - He'll Make the Trains Run on Time," in other words.
1.2.2008 1:15pm
deke hauser:
Dan's points are well taken. It may also be worthwhile to consider Eugene's previous comments concerning Giuliani's reprehensible prosecutorial abuses.
1.2.2008 1:30pm
SIG357:
Whatever his other merits, I think that Giuliani is the least libertarian candidate in the race on the GOP side, and perhaps on either side. His First Amendment record is flat out terrible, for instance. And I don't need to go into his Second Amendment history.

As for crime in NY, that was falling in the three years before Giuliani took office, and it continued to fall in the years after he left.


"While I am now a resident of Chicago, I lived in New York City for the duration of Rudy Giuliani's mayoralty."



People who lives in NYC during the boom years of the ninties tend to have a high opinion of the former Mayor. But correlation is not causation.


"Just as there needs to be respect for civic order in city for it to thrive there needs to be respect for global order, particularly in an age of weapons of mass destruction, for the United States to be secure."




I think that if elected, Giuliani will find that China, Russia, and Iran are a little more difficult to deal with than the squeegee men.
1.2.2008 1:48pm
SIG357:
He [Giuliani] is also a strong supporter of federalism

If he is then it's a result of an eleventh hour conversion, because nothing in his history prior to his run for President suggests the slightest interest in federalism.
1.2.2008 1:51pm
Adeez (mail):
McGinnes taught at my school, but shit, I never knew he was such a comedian!

Some already beat me to the punch, so I'll focus on another nugget:

"The mayor's insistence on personal accountability"

Like the way he held himself accountable for lobbying for Kerik to be Homeland Security director w/no background check despite knowing what a corrupt pig he was? Like the way he held himself accountable for not doing anything to prevent another attack on the WTC despite it being attacked when he took office? Like the way he held himself accountable for stealing money from NYers by using our money to fund trysts with his mistress? Like the way he held himself accountable for placing his command center in the WTC?
1.2.2008 2:28pm
Cornellian (mail):
nothing in [Giuliani's] history prior to his run for President suggests the slightest interest in federalism.

In other words, Giuliani is totally in the mainstream of today's Republican party.
1.2.2008 2:29pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
What Dan and Anderson said.
My bona fides: I'm from the Bronx and keep a finger on the pulse of New York.

Not only Times Square, but there was that "No smut within X feet of a place of worship" bit. IIRC his solution to turning-auto/pedestrian conflicts was to put jersey barriers across crosswalks.

There was a lot of talk about "broken windows". The theory is that if you let the windows stay broken, people will think the neighborhood is a slum, and serious crimes will follow. So he started with "quality of life" enforcement. One of those newly cracked-down-upon crimes was repairing a car in the street. Plenty of New Yorkers don't have garages. I never got "broken window = bad; unrepaired car = good."

There were also tickets issued for such things as sitting on a milk crate.

I'd forgotten this one, but the NY Times timeline recalled when the cops killed somebody, Giuliani publicized the victim's sealed juvenile record, claiming that privacy right was only in effect while the victim was alive. (This strikes me as the parent-murderer asking for leniency because he is an orphan.)

If Giuliani is going to claim credit for good that happened on his watch, even if it due to a change demographics or economy, or his predecessor's hiring, and take credit for how the aftermath of 9/11 was handled, he's also got to take the blame for the bad that happened, and 9/11 happened when he was mayor.
1.2.2008 2:37pm
SIG357:
Cornellian

It would be even more accurate to say that he is squarely in the middle of todays Democratic party.
1.2.2008 3:12pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Like the way he held himself accountable for lobbying for Kerik to be Homeland Security director w/no background check despite knowing what a corrupt pig he was?
What does this mean? (I know what it refers to. I don't understand what "held himself accountable" means in this context. In fact, I don't understand what "held himself accountable" means in any context. You can accept responsibility; you can't hold yourself accountable.)
Like the way he held himself accountable for not doing anything to prevent another attack on the WTC despite it being attacked when he took office?
I don't understand what this means, either. I don't quite understand how the mayor of New York was supposed to "do anything to prevent another attack on the WTC." You realize that this was a failure of (a) border control, (b) foreign intelligence, and (c) airport security, right? You realize the mayor of New York City has no control over any of these things, right?

There are plenty of things to criticize Giuliani for. But when you rant irrationally about something like that, it mostly discredits you, not him.
Like the way he held himself accountable for stealing money from NYers by using our money to fund trysts with his mistress?
This is a distortion of facts.
Like the way he held himself accountable for placing his command center in the WTC?
Again, it's not at all clear what "hold himself accountable" means, but this may or may not have been a mistake. Putting it in Brooklyn, which is what critics have tried to claim he should have done, wouldn't have made much sense.
1.2.2008 5:25pm
PLR:
It's more fun to be superficial. Am I the only one who thinks Giuliani is just too cadaverous looking to win anything? There was that brief period where Tommy Thompson was the homeliest guy in the race, but now the ghoulish Rudy stands alone.

I'm also wondering whether any photographers have had a chance to photograph the Democratic contenders together, from behind. But I digress...
1.2.2008 5:36pm
Anderson (mail):
Putting it in Brooklyn, which is what critics have tried to claim he should have done, wouldn't have made much sense.

Sure, but did it have to be right in the vicinity of the most prominent location actually attacked by terrorists prior to 9/11?
1.2.2008 5:40pm
Britt (mail):
Speaking as a big gun rights guy, Rudy will not get my vote in the primary. Plus he just has this overall "I'll fix it!" approach that I find off putting.

If I want to be treated like a child, I'll join the Democrats.
1.2.2008 6:06pm
SIG357:
"I don't quite understand how the mayor of New York was supposed to "do anything to prevent another attack on the WTC." You realize that this was a failure of (a) border control, (b) foreign intelligence, and (c) airport security, right? "

You realise that the Mayor of New York has long been an opponent of secure borders, right? He used to dismiss the very idea as being impractical and undesirable.

There is a libertarian element which agrees with this, but I confess I've never found that they present persuasive arguments.
1.2.2008 6:12pm
Milhouse (www):

Sure, but did it have to be right in the vicinity of the most prominent location actually attacked by terrorists prior to 9/11?

Terrorist attack was and remains a less likely crisis than natural disaster or ordinary accident. The command center was put where it would be high up in case of flooding or gas leaks, in a building that would stay up in case of earthquake or hurricane, with its own fuel supply and generator. It would have been a perfect location even in the event of another attack on the buildings next door, if only those buildings hadn't fallen down (which nobody anticipated happening).

I don't think he can be faulted for this particular mistake.
1.2.2008 9:08pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
You realise that the Mayor of New York has long been an opponent of secure borders, right? He used to dismiss the very idea as being impractical and undesirable.
I'm not sure I understand. Putting aside the question of what difference it makes what position the mayor of New York holds on the issue, what do "open borders" have to do with 9/11? Did many of the hijackers swim across the Rio Grande?
1.2.2008 9:28pm
SIG357:
Open borders includes our non-existent visa tracking system, which many of the 911 hijackers took advantage of.

Congress passed a law to fix this in 1996. They have spent the ensuing eleven years and counting spiking their own law.

"Putting aside the question of what difference it makes what position the mayor of New York holds on the issue"

Given that the Mayor of New York wants to be President of the United States, I'm not sure why we should put aside his record on this matter.
1.2.2008 10:47pm
Javert:

Mayor Rudy Giuliani successfully acted on his understanding that the greatness of America has been that its institutions foster both respect for the rule of law and a love of freedom, including entrepreneurship. A President Giuliani would have both the vision and determination to maintain, renew, and improve these institutions.


This must be a joke. A "love of freedom" includes ruthless prosecution of "economic" crimes, such as his authoritarian crusades against Wall Street's entrepreneurs?!
1.3.2008 1:36am