I keep telling you that Republicans might throw out all their litmus tests and go with Rudy in '08, and now here's Frank Luntz explaining to England's Telegraph just why that might happen:
..."He is exactly the change the Republican party needs," said Frank Luntz, a leading Republican strategist. "They can't run the same kind of candidate they have run in the last four elections. They have to do it differently. Giuliani would do well to study Tony Blair's campaign for the Labour leadership. He will need to transform the party in the same way. If he follows Blair's strategy and focuses on electability then it could be easier than people think.
"Republicans have lost Congress and there is a tremendous fear in the GOP [Republican party] that they could lose it all to Hillary Clinton... 2008 is not going to be a liberal versus conservative fight. It's going to be about who's got the goods to make things happen." ...
There it is: They're afraid of Hillary. They think this month's election results mean she's even more unbeatable than they feared she was before November 7. And some of them are gravitating to Rudy as a result.
I think it's fairly obvious what's really going to happen if Hillary's the nominee: She's going to be subjected to the nastiest campaign in living memory, and the press will be only too happy to help Republicans put the boot in, while embracing whoever the GOP puts up against her -- Rudy, St. John, Romney, Gingrich -- as just the tonic America needs to regain its manly fortitude, which we'll be told we desperately need to regain after two years of that nasty testosterone-depleting shrew Nancy Pelosi. (By 2008, it will be common to hear that everything that went wrong in Iraq is the fault of Pelosi's unnatural coven of emasculating Democrats.) Even after eight years of Bush, we'll be told that the solution to our problems is to elect a Republican strutter and blusterer.
And that could be just about anybody. As a resident of the state where an unknown schlub named Pataki beat Mario Cuomo Superstar a dozen years ago, I can assure you that having a marquee name won't be necessary if the conventional wisdom is that Hillary is a tired old Democratic throwback who has an overinflated reputation and needs to be taken down a notch.
Well, fine -- maybe they'll tear the party apart and do too much damage to themselves to prevail in putting forward someone they think can beat our highly beatable favorite. That would be nice. Unfortunately, Rudy does have Liebermanesque appeal to swing voters, and that's why I worry -- they may coalesce around him out of desperation and win.