Rudy-bashing starting to get annoying

Ace thinks it got annoying a few days ago when people objected to Rudy saying he supports public funding of abortion but only in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother is threatened, i.e., the current state of the law. After all, every other Republican candidate holds the same position in practice insofar as they’re not agitating to repeal the Hyde Amendment. The problem is, Rudy didn’t mention the current-state-of-the-law caveat during the CNN interview when he had the chance. It was an afterthought, submitted by his campaign to CNN later in the day as a gloss, after the uproar had started, to do damage control. So yeah, it’s good that they climbed down, not so good that Rudy himself didn’t think to issue this rather important qualifier during the interview if it’s so crucial to his thinking. Those sorts of squishy slips land Romney and McCain in hot water all the time as a supposed window into their true liberal-ish mindset. Why should Rudy be immune?

Also, on an issue this morally charged, there’s a big difference between a candidate who supports a law because he agrees with it philosophically versus one who tolerates it because he can’t get it overturned or because, for whatever cynical reason, it’s politically expedient for him to do so. Ace himself made this point the other day — that Rudy has to tack right on some issues, even if it hurts his image as an unbendable man of his word, simply to show the base that he’s one of them (or close enough to being one of them to earn their vote). Reversing himself on public funding of abortion would have been an easy place to do it: it would dilute the poison of his pro-choice position, hint to fiscal conservatives that he’s thinking about government spending, and bring him in line with every other Republican candidate on this issue. Instead he chose to needlessly distinguish himself as the only man in the field who’d keep the Hyde Amendment even if Congress presented him with a bill to get rid it. If I’m a social con, that tells me a lot about his moral commitment to abortion, notwithstanding the lip service he pays to abhorring the practice. Frum makes a nice counterpoint in that regard, but he’s simply ignoring the reality of how people approach this issue. They want to know they’re voting for a good man, and for many of them pro-choice = not good.

So no, I don’t think the abortion criticism is stupid. But that’s the old criticism; the new criticism is trending stupid indeed, ranging from the somewhat silly and mildly grating to the hopelessly moronic and irritating. Maybe it’s backlash to the good press he’s been getting or maybe it’s a way of trying to take the front-runner down a peg or two, but look. Re: the Godfather impression, no one’s done more in modern America to rehabilitate Italians from their mafia association than Giuliani has. Before his surname became a synonym for law and order in NYC, he was famous for indicting every dirtbag don he could get his hands on. As such, and as a member of the, ahem, “Italian-American” community myself, I invite any fellow members who question his standing as a “good Italian” to kindly get bent. As for Matt Lewis’s Townhall post, I don’t read anything in the Politico story that makes me think Giuliani’s “blaming” bloggers for his troubles. For one thing, he didn’t limit what he said to bloggers — he mentioned the “instant news atmosphere,” which encompasses 24/7 cable news coverage too. For another, he’s simply recognizing a fact of political life now: bloggers need content, they’re watching the candidates constantly, and so every verbal crumb that falls from his lips is apt to be scrutinized to the point of pulverization — a phenomenon of which, ironically, Lewis’s post is a good example. It’s not our fault that he occasionally gives us material, and I don’t hear him saying that it is.

Anyway, maybe he needs to do what the pros do after they’ve had a rough week: call in reinforcements and go on vacation. Or better yet, do what the editorial board of the New York Sun evidently does: start sniffing glue.

Update: I made this point to Ace via IM yesterday, but he thought it was too legalistic. Maybe so; like I said, this is a moral issue for most voters, not a constitutional one. Nevertheless, I agree with the Influence Peddler:

There is conflict among his statements here. He wants to provide funds where they’re needed ‘to guarantee a constitutional right.’ He also wants to keep the Hyde amendment as is. But the Hyde amendment doesn’t provide funds for those who can’t otherwise afford an abortion. It allows states to offer funds in the cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother. So Giuliani was either talking about some new use of federal dollars outside the Hyde amendment, or he misspoke – or was confused about the particulars – as I was.

I don’t think he cares about the limitations of the Hyde Amendment at all. His logic is simple: women have a constitutional right to abort, therefore funds should be available to help women exercise it. The scope of the funding matches the scope of the right, which conveniently takes the whole matter of his hands politically and commits to constitutional granite. The problem is, the rape/incest/life of the mother exception is a statutory limit; it’s not part of the Court’s constitutional jurisprudence on the scope of the right itself. So what is he talking about?