In my post about the field of front-running Republican candidates, I got a comment from someone who said that s/he could not possibly vote for Giuliani, because Giuliani is personally pro-choice. Further, the comment writer said (or implied) that this would hold true even if it boiled down to a race between Giuliani and a pro-choice Democrat. Enough voters with this viewpoint, and you’ve got 1992 all over again, with a Democrat in the Whit House.
I’ve been thinking about this attitude a lot and, with all due respect, I think that it is wrong. What matters is voting for the candidate who will be both most effective in achieving your goals and most likely to win. A throwaway vote for a pro-Life candidate who can’t possibly win is a wasted vote.
This attitude also ignores the fact that it doesn’t matter what Giuliani’s personal beliefs are if he is willing to do the Constitutionally right thing — which, in this case, is to nominate strict constructionists to fill inevitable vacancies on the Supreme Court. You see, a President can’t do anything about abortion anyway. It’s not within the range of his executive powers. What is within the range of his powers is to ensure that the Supreme Court is staffed with people who understand that their mandate is to interpret, not to rewrite, the Constitution.
To the extent that all honest people, whether pro-life or pro-choice, acknowledge that Roe v. Wade is poorly decided and doesn’t have a Constitutional leg to stand on, it is the strict constructionists who are going to reverse it and remand the matter of abortion back to the states, where it belongs. (Or into the realm of Constitutional amendments, another Constitutionally appropriate venue for the issue.) I can assure you this wonder happen if Hillary or Obama or Edwards or any of the others in that party win. You’ll just see more liberal constructionists on the Court, looking to the EU for Constitutional guidance.
To fully appreciate how an honorable person can put aside his personal beliefs to do the right thing, think of Harry Truman. He was a racist who integrated the American armed forces, and he was an anti-Semite who knew that recognizing Israel was morally the right thing to do. He was a man who was able to look outside his prejudices and see the greater principles at stake.
To sideline a potential winner such as Giuliani, a man who can appoint to the Supreme Court jurists who will abide by the Constitution, merely because you dislike his personal beliefs is to take the risk of jettisoning the Supreme Court for the next twenty years. If you are a pro-lifer who by sulking, splits the Republican vote and if your conduct, multiplied by a few hundred thousand voters, results in Hillary or Obama taking the White House, you will have the blood of hundreds of thousands of abortions on your hands for the foreseeable future.
UPDATE: Deroy Murdock gives some actual numbers about Giuliani’s conservative impact on New York. As for the comment that the judges Giuliani “appointed” during his tenure as mayor were liberal, I have heard that the New York mayor has almost no (or absolutely no) authority regarding which candidates are selected for the bench. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I read that. Does anyone know where I can find authority for Giuliani’s inability to appoint more conservative judges, whether or not he wanted to?
Incidentally, despite the fact that Giuliani was undoubtedly conservative in his approach to mayoral politics, he still appealed strongly to sane liberal voters. I’ll never forgot the gay, ultra-liberal New Yorker I met in the 1990s. While he had voted for Dinkins against Giuliani when the latter first ran for office, he confessed that he would vote for Giuliani in the upcoming mayoral elections, because Giuliani was the best thing ever to happen to New York. Now that’s a leader.
UPDATE II: City Journal also has an homage to Giuliani’s really astounding ability to push through conservative programs in place of deeply entrenched (and manifestly failing) liberal programs. That he has the ability to turn things around is impressive. It’s great to have conservative principles; less great if you can’t do anything about them.