To no avail. The money part comes at the end, when he explains why it would actually be better for Hillary to be president than Rudy. For him, that is. Not for you.
I snipped out the obligatory reminder that he’s speaking solely in his capacity as a private citizen, no different from you or I, which I guess explains why he got 25 minutes on the second-most widely watched news show on cable to expound on his opposition to Giuliani.
Exit question: Is he seriously citing Rudy’s appointments of municipal court judges as evidence of how he’d make Supreme Court picks?
More (Bryan): I respect Dr. Dobson and admire his principles and even some of his thinking in this interview. I don’t agree with his conclusions, but I respect how he gets there. He’s a man of principle and his principles are sound. I do think that he’s mistaking the world of politics as a place where perfection and purity are possible, when it’s neither. It’s not even close.
The most fundamental problem that I see in his conclusion is that he knows full well that if he siphons off even a percent or two from the GOP candidate to some doomed third party candidate, he will be handing the election to a radical pro-choice candidate who among other things is likely to be very bad on the war and awful across a whole range of issues that Dobson rightly holds dear. And the rest of the GOP will end up blaming him and social conservatives for her ascension to power.
But on the other hand, supporting a GOP candidate who stands at odds with most of the things Dobson and other social conservatives have fought for, for decades, may well have the unintended consequence of further marginalizing social conservatives. Most Republicans who aren’t all that socially conservative will probably celebrate that, but the long term effect of that will probably be to weaken the GOP as a broadly conservative coalition. The social cons are in many ways the anchor that keeps the party conservative, and without them we’ll have a much weakened GOP that may remain fiscally conservative but otherwise probably won’t stand for very much. Some may argue that independents will be more attracted to the GOP if the social cons aren’t there, and that may be true, but it seems unlikely to me that enough independents will become solid Republicans to replace the social cons as a movement. Independents aren’t exactly known for their loyalty to anything in particular when it comes to politics and don’t fuel lasting or effective movements. They tend to shift with the wind. That’s what makes many of them independents.
Social cons are really looking at a landscape with few good options in front of us. The strongest socially conservative candidate still standing is probably McCain, but he has had the habit of betraying conservative principles when it suits him, and he’s not going to last much longer anyway. Given Romney’s zigzagging on so many issues, it’s fair to wonder who he really is. And I say that as someone who generally likes him. Fred hasn’t shown much fire yet and hasn’t moved up on Giuliani in the polls very much. Hunter and Huckabee and Tancredo and the rest just don’t seem to have a shot, which is unfortunate and may be a sign of things to come: The most solidly and uncompromisingly conservative candidates probably have the least chance of winning. That’s probably due to their particular backgrounds and biographies, but it also may tell us something about where the party may be heading.
So with few good options and the likelihood of a Giuliani vs Clinton race, what do we do? I’m struggling with the question myself, but I don’t think it’s a good idea except as a way of warning to do what Dr. Dobson is doing now. It’s fine to warn the party that you aren’t happy with the candidates and that you’ll do what you can to hold the party to its conservative principles no matter who wins the primary. I don’t think it’s wise to toy with third party talk. He didn’t do much of that in the interview tonight, but he has been doing it here and there in recent weeks. That’s the nuclear option in my opinion, but it’s being deployed against one’s own party. It’s really a Samson strategy, and deploying it will bring the house down upon us. Would that get us closer to or farther away from becoming a more conservative country? It’s hard to argue that handing the presidency to the likes of Hillary Clinton can do much but damage the country as a whole and the conservative movement in particular.
Now, all of that said, I’d still like to point out that it’s not demagoguery for Dr. Dobson to offer his opinion on Giuliani. The fact is, Giuliani’s record is what it is. Much of it is very good, and I agree with George Will that Giuliani’s mayoral record is strikingly conservative in many ways. It’s also strikingly liberal in many ways and strikingly wrongheaded in a couple of ways. Giuliani’s marital record is fair game because of how Giuliani himself has handled his private life, and I do fear that we may be setting ourselves up for bimbo eruptions if he’s in the White House. That kind of thing just seems to have been wired into him. It’s not demagoguery to wonder about any of that, to dread it happening, and to point out that you have problems with some or all of it. It’s politics and it’s life. We could do with less name-calling on our side among fellow Republicans, just as we could do with fewer third-party warnings of the kind that Dr. Dobson has been floating.