THE O'RUDY FACTOR?
This Washington Post article about the hurdles Rudy Giuliani is likely to face in a GOP primary battle might have persuaded me that he can't win -- if it didn't contain passages like this:
But in a measure of the party's divisions, other Republicans, such as California financier Bill Simon and talk show host Dennis Prager, say his social liberalism is of less concern. They are among a group of conservative activists who see in Giuliani a Reagan-like figure, sometimes wrong but possessed of unshakable conservative beliefs.
I don't care about Simon, but Prager? Dennis "Respect Judeo-Christian Values as I Define Them or Burn in Hell" Prager? Dennis "I Decide What Book a Muslim Congressman Swears His Oath On, and It Ain't the Koran" Prager? If people like Prager are comfy with Giuliani, that's going to help keep a number of wingnuts from rejecting him out of hand.
(Prager interviewed Giuliani a couple of weeks ago and Rudy said nearly all the right things: stay the course, Reagan was a saint, Islamofascists hate us no matter what we do. Prager's only quibble was that Rudy wouldn't criticize McCain-Feingold in truly harsh terms. I doubt that's a dealbreaker.)
And while we're on the subject of Giuliani's relationship with half-mad wingnut radio hosts-slash-pundits who see themselves as Old Testament prophets, here's Hugh Hewitt:
There is an advantage in doing scores of events for radio audiences and Republican activists over the past two years: At each of them I get to conduct my straw poll. In early 2005, I offered audiences the right to vote for one of five possible nominees --Senators Allen, Frist or McCain, Mayor Giuliani, or Governor Romney.
Two years ago, Senator Allen usually won, but Mayor Giuliani was occasionally on top of the poll --the older the audience, the better he did-- though usually he came in second.
By the dismal end of the 2006 campaign season --and I have only done one large event since the election-- Rudy always wins and Romney is always second, and it is usually close.... Senator McCain usually gets about 2%.
Hewitt says that the "majority of the GOP primary electorate" is prioritizing "the war, the war, the war (and judges)." Giuliani's a solid hawk (see the Prager interview); Hewitt adds, "Rudy has a problem with the judges issue, but it is one the primary electorate will be willing to be persuaded about."
I'd say it's more than just the war. I'm sure I've said this before, but Rudy's a hater -- he despises his enemies and it shows, and I think GOP voters love that.
If you're having trouble imagining the far right warming to Rudy, consider the case of Bill O'Reilly.
You know O'Reilly doesn't always toe the conservatively correct line:
O'Reilly says he's pro gun control, against the death penalty, and supports civil unions, not just for homosexuals, but "for everybody."
He says he's for gay adoptions as a last resort: "I'd rather have nice, responsible gay home than the system for kids. What else?"
And about the environment? "Government’s gotta be proactive on environment," says O'Reilly. "Global warming is here. All these idiots that run around and say it isn't here. That's ridiculous."
You also know O'Reilly's life is not always G-rated. (Keyword: falafel.)
And yet he's the most popular guy on Fox News. Why? Because he hates. If he disagrees with you, he drops into that pained baritone, then quietly tears your head off. He and Giuliani share that subtly-vicious-poisonous-reptile quality, just as they share Long Island roots. O'Reilly's so good at quiet viciousness that he gets a free pass on the subjects on which he's out of step with the wingnuts. I think Giuliani might get the same reaction in early '08.