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August 15, 2007

My Commenters Are Smarter Than Me: Freudian Edition

At Tapped, Davis X Machina replies to my concern that some liberals have a serene confidence that Giuliani will self-destruct, saying:

Assume arguendo, that for every turned-off fundie who looks at Giuliani and stays home, a fear-addict, or authority-worshiper, or closet racist, who couldn't otherwise bring him or herself to vote for a southern, Talibornagain Republican comes off the bench.

Are we sure the former outnumber the latter? Is the superego vote really bigger than the id vote?

In American politics, I always bet on the id.

August 15, 2007 | Permalink


In American politics, I always bet on the id.

Alas, this is true. And let us not forget that a large amount of even the "southern, Talibornagain Republican" vote is part of the id vote -- a large part of the interest in regulating people's "morality" is certainly prurient, isn't it? If the vote really was about the super-ego rather than the id, the morality vote would be about more than just voting to restrict who has sex with whom and what you can do when said sex results in you being pregnant.

I'd say it's fair enough that a vote for Huckabee would be a super-ego vote, but even a vote for the likes of Brownback is an id vote, IMHO.

Posted by: DAS | Aug 15, 2007 3:15:48 PM

Remember, before his resignation for tax-fraud Spiro Agnew was one of the most popular figures in the Republican Party. Giuliani is running a throwback politics of resentment campaign, but with less intellectualism than Nixon. Whenever you look at Rudy think "What Would Spiro Do?" and you'll pretty much have it.

Posted by: AJ | Aug 15, 2007 3:20:41 PM

I agree and disagree at once (there's a statement that sums me up!) - if the premise for our "serene confidence" was what Davis refers to, then yes, he's right, and so are you, we're over confident. That's not why I know Giuliani will self destruct. It is entirely likely that many religious conservative types will go for Giuliani, three wives, cross dressing, gay comfortable, abortion okaying and all. What won't happen - which is what many Republicans seem to be desperately clinging to - is that the Giuliani's takes on abortion, gays or his convoluted personal life will appeal to the left. Giuliani's whole premise for running is that he can survive the "crazy states" of the reddest zones, while prevailing in the "purplier" coastal states and elsewhere to get the nomination. Then, the theory goes, he'll be well positioned to look moderate and reasonable and win over moderate Dems while holding the GOP base (this is especially predicated on Hillary winning). The problem with the theory isn't that he could win the primaries; he could (although I think he's got more problems actually prevailing overall than anyone on the right who supports him wants to admit). The bigger problem is that if you think about the Kerry/Gore states it's really, really hard to see how Giuliani will look better than the Dem in any of them. Add to that the fact that he does put a good part of the South in play - where really hardcore religious conservatives staying home could happen - and it's hard to see how he wins. Like many lefty New Yorkers who actually lived through the Giuliani years, the reason I have a certain serene confidence about Rudy's flameout is because like them, I know he is and I know what he's done. And I know that when a lot of that gets out, he will look terrible. And I'm not even one of those - as we've discussed here - who thinks Dems can make a dent in the "Mayor of 9/11" storyline. I don't think we actually need to. But assuming others are right, and his rep from 9/11 can be dented too, then he really is toast. I do believe id voters outnumber superego voters. I just think one needs to remember the left has an id, too. And that id has no use for a Giuliani.

Posted by: weboy | Aug 15, 2007 3:26:54 PM


I can think of one key Southern state, however, in which Davis X Machina's argument certainly will hold in the general election: my current "home" state of FL. For every Bible-thumper who might stay home rather than vote for Giuliani in the general election (and many won't stay home ... even if he's pro-choice, etc., Giuliani is still gonna put reactionaries in the courts, so the religious right will hold its collective nose and vote for him), some alter-kocker in South FL, who otherwise would stay home or vote for the Democrat, is going to vote for Giuliani because "he cleaned up NYC".

As some have suggested, in states like FL, then, if Bloomberg is in the race as an independent/3rd party candidate and Giuliani is the GOP candidate, Bloomberg might actually benefit the Democrats: because while Bloomberg would likely siphon off more Democratic than GOP votes, the votes he would siphon off would otherwise have been siphoned off by Giuliani.

Posted by: DAS | Aug 15, 2007 3:40:05 PM

The bigger problem is that if you think about the Kerry/Gore states it's really, really hard to see how Giuliani will look better than the Dem in any of them.

I think you underestimate both the American id, and the extent to which the media remains in the tank, particularly Chris 'man-crush' Matthews. Oh, and the extent to which Bush retains the power to create 'conditions on the ground' that make waverers amenable to a bit of authoritarianism and bigotry, Rudy-style.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | Aug 15, 2007 4:16:56 PM

If you're going to go with the theme of you not being that smart, I may as well point out that the correct grammar for the post title would be "smarter than I am" rather than "smarter than me."

Posted by: Dimmy Karras | Aug 15, 2007 4:19:57 PM

I don't think it's even as complicated as that. A single-issue candidate comes with a big target on his back--Giuliani literally has *no* assets other than 9/11, and he simply can't withstand a Swift Boating on that issue. (I hesitate to use that term, since the ads that will run against him will have the virtue of being true, but you get the idea.)

What's going to save him when firefighters, rescue workers and 9/11 widows denounce him over the air? His ready command of the issues and natural charisma? The stellar reputation and unmatched fundraising ability of his party? His moderate--no, wait, they're conservative--maybe--positions on social issues? The sweet human interest stories on his tranquil and happy family life? Or just the fact that he's probably running against Hillary?

This is not a man whom the country knows well, and not a man who benefits from prolonged exposure. He's close in the polls to Hillary *now*; I don't see what (barring more terrorist attacks) might conceivably tip the scales in his favor after he's been a candidate for over a year.

Posted by: Mike B. | Aug 15, 2007 4:37:58 PM

I've a little trouble with an assumed separation of "fear-addicted, authority-worshiping, closeted racists" and the southern, Talibornagain Republicans. Perhaps there are some of the former who don't also attend a Southern Baptist Church, but overall ISTM that there's a bunch of overlap.

Giuliani's primary hopes rest upon this group's fear addiction and veneration of authority overriding their obsession with abortion and gays.

Posted by: Stephen | Aug 15, 2007 6:11:14 PM

Actually, the "southern, Talibornagain Republicans" are not as directly racist as you might think. Here in the South, at least the mid-sized city South, things are actually a mite bit more integrated, e.g., than up North even.

This isn't to say that the hate has gone away, but the same hate has been redirected to different targets: note, for example, the stunning similarities between anti-gay-marriage and anti-miscegenation rhetoric. Does that mean, though, that those making the anti-gay-marriage arguments are racist? Certainly many are, but many others making those arguments have kids in inter-racial marriages. However, because they are so comfortable with those arguments, they adapt them to the times.

Some of these folks I just can't see voting for Giuliani, even if part of the "adaption of hate to the times" means they no longer hate the Jews but now hate the Muslims (and the cult of St. Rudy certainly feeds into that). However, as you no doubt do realize, many of these folks will vote for Giuliani, if only because they'll now stop hating gays so much and redirect their hatred to terrorists or something. And anyway, c.f. the original post, for every Bible thumper in North FL, there is at least one fear-laden alter-kocker in South FL, so to speak.

Posted by: DAS | Aug 15, 2007 6:41:11 PM

WEBOY: Were you equally confident that Rudy would flame out in NYC? How did that work out? Re-elected? You don't say! Probably only because it was Southern racist jew-hating territory and a soft-news town, eh?

EZRA: You are absolutely right. The enlightened, charitable and remarkably nuanced analyses of Giuliani's appeal by DXM or your commenters above don't help either. But that's okay with me because Giuliani looks like the best of the current bunch of candidates on ether side of the aisle.

Posted by: slickdpdx | Aug 15, 2007 7:33:07 PM

As someone who lived through Giuliani in New York, I can say with fair confidence: he would be the worst president of the current bunch of candidates on either side of the aisle, with the possible exception of Tom Tancredo. He is extraordinarily good at getting things done in big bureaucracies; unfortunately, he most often uses that skill to pursue personal hatreds. Of all the candidates, he is the only one I would say for sure is mean.

Posted by: Antid Oto | Aug 15, 2007 7:56:02 PM

Slick - No, if you lived in NYC at the time, the idea that Giuliani could beat Dinkins, and then Ruth Messinger (look her up) were pretty much foregone conclusions (I'm pretty sure I didn't even vote for Messinger out of general dismay - probably for the liberal party line, or greens or something; I can't quite remember). The fact that Rudy was a popular and elected Mayor isn't what I'm disputing - it's just that such success proves very little, given that no New York Mayor has found the way to translate managing America's greatest city (those fighting words alone show you where we start from in the debate) into national office (at least in the modern age). Giuliani's ability to flame out really comes from looking at his dismal performance - against Hillary Clinton - in running for Senate. Despite much excuse making, it's clear he was making few inroads upstate, was not on the best terms with state party leaders (and, oddly, still isn't), and was likely to lose, even in New York City. No one seriously even considered him to run against Clinton when she ran for reelection this last time (and that's post "Mayor of 9/11") - he may have had no interest by then, but he also, probably, couldn't beat her. Could he be reelected as Mayor? I'd say yes; he was good at it, and there's a residual well of good feeling. But that doesn't translate into national elections, just as being a New Yorker rarely looks attractive to the rest of the country. Giuliani is saddled with the unique baggage of being the kind of Republican a New Yorker could elect Mayor: a unicorn of political philosophies and personal foibles that can be made to seem mighty mighty unattractive in the right hands (hands that, surely, belong to Hillary Clinton, not to mention a number of other New York Democrats). I'm not minimizing the fact that Giuliani has an appeal... but of almost all the candidates in what remains a remarkably weak field, Giuliani remains my choice as pretty much most beatable. Tying him in rhetorical knots, putting him on the defensive over previous actions (two words: Bernie Kerik, just for starters), bringing out his less than pleasant style when challenged... there's just so much waiting to be explored.

Which, BTW, DAS, is why I have my doubts about his ability to carry Florida. What looks good on paper, may be much less appealing by the time Democrats get through, though I agree the combination of his longstanding support for Israel and the panhandle voting for a begonia with an R after its name before any Dem does pose hurdles. I'd even float the controversial notion that Dems can win without Florida, if what Giuliani has to do to win there turns off people elsewhere.

Posted by: weboy | Aug 15, 2007 8:04:41 PM

I can't decide whether Rudy would be the hardest candidate for the Democrats to beat or the easiest.

On one hand, Rudy has very high favorable ratings, and his "liberal" positions on social issues could greatly appeal to voters, who consider themselves enlightened on abortion, gays, etc. but suffer from an irrational fear of terrorists blowing them up, and who will believe it when the news man on the teevee says that Rudy will keep everybody safe - while at the same time appealing to the more traditional Republican voters with his preposterous yet powerful "tough guy" image. (I don't know about you, but a comb-over, a lisp, and an affinity for women's clothing don't scream "tough guy" to me.)

But on the other hand, his one strength, 9/11, could be turned into a vulnerability, Swift Boat-style, and he's tied himself to the unpopular Iraq war. I also have to wonder how many Catholics out there have been voting Republican solely on the abortion issue, who will then flip if both candidates are pro-choice.

Posted by: Jason G. | Aug 15, 2007 8:06:18 PM

WEBOY: I was there too. Voted for Dinkins the first time, a mistake I did not repeat.

Fair points about weakness of Dinkins and Messinger as candidates. However, my point that this talk of Giuliani's alleged appeal to only wacked out anti-semitic crypto-fascists is baseless and counterproductive (for those that oppose him). It is also laughable that people who characterize other voters that way characterize the other voters as the haters.

Posted by: slickdpdx | Aug 15, 2007 8:27:44 PM

P.S. HRC is probably my second choice, after RG.

Posted by: slickdpdx | Aug 15, 2007 8:28:25 PM

this talk of Giuliani's alleged appeal to only wacked out anti-semitic crypto-fascists...

That's not my talk. People who find Rudy appealing, especially in a general way, at this point, don't surprise or annoy me. It just means they're ripe for the rest of the story.

Posted by: weboy | Aug 15, 2007 9:33:58 PM

this talk of Giuliani's alleged appeal to only wacked out anti-semitic crypto-fascists is baseless and counterproductive

Actually, by the time Giuliani was done being mayor, he only did appeal to a narrow segment of the electorate. September 11th was the only thing that changed that, and instead of trying to build a coalition to get himself elected, Giuliani is instead running by appealing to the most narrow-minded, angriest segment of the electorate. And this may win, of course-- Republicans are concerned less with abortion policy than they are with who hates liberals the most (Rush Limbaugh is not popular because he's a social conservative, after all). He's not running as the Giuliani of 1993. He's not even running as "America's Mayor." He's running as the guy who was screaming about what a horrible person Patrick Dorismond was. That and Giuliani has made so many enemies and has had so many failures on his way to the top that even if he gets nominated, he'll at best limp to election day.

Is elected, he would, however, probably be one of the worst possible presidents.

Posted by: Tyro | Aug 15, 2007 9:39:16 PM

Seems to me that there's a great counter-Giuliani argument that is simple and direct: "Rudy? He'd be a really bad President. He put the NYC counterterrorism headquarters in the WTC. Even a moron could tell you that's a bad idea. He's got shit for brains."

No need to go into the other stuff or make it more complex than that. If he is the nominee, I look forward to talking about how dumb it was to put an anti-terror HQ in the number 1 target for terrorists all summer long in 2008. It really doesn't require much elaboration, but if someone wants to get into it with you the bits about it being his love nest are extra juicy.

Posted by: William | Aug 15, 2007 10:08:46 PM

The comments above from slckpdx, if Im understanding them correctly, leave me very confused. slcpkpdx says that he or she would take guiliani first, and hrc second of all the candidates. Can that be?

Can someone explain to me in which universe Guiliani would be someone's number one vote and HRC second choice? I can understand being foolish enough to think that someone with guiliani's record of hiring crooks, using public funds to pursue private vendettas, utter ignorance of world affairs, born again far right beliefs on everything from sex to abortion to marriage to warfare etc...etc...etc... would be a good president. I can understand that because I know the country still has a good many republicans who simply value different things than I do (prudery, violence, war mongering, fear mongering, guns, whiteness for its own sake, religious bigotry). So, such a person should certainly vote for Guiliani since he is, in effect, openly advertising to be whatever kind of violent, agressive, thoughtless, authoritarian, leader they want. In a democracy, people should definitely, but wittingly, vote for the candidate they think best represents their interests and their world view. Guiliani isn't shy about who and what he is so its not too confusing. If you like Guiliani, you like what he' peddling.

But how does HRC come in even *second* to that? Does that mean tha to slckpdx if the choice is a Democrat HRC and *any other republican candidate* that slckpdx would vote for HRC? In what universe? HRC promises to be nearly the exact opposite to Guiliani in absolutely everything--beginning with her sex, her fidelity to her marriage, her religion, her political beliefs, her education, her temperate character... Most of all, HRC would be *working with the democrats* and Guiliani promises to take no prisoners in *hating the democrats.* One candidate simply can't substitute for the other candidate.

If slckpdx's attitude is at all reprsentative of guiliani voters we are all in either a lot of trouble, or much better shape than I thought. Under the "I'll take HRC if Guiliani is not available" model we could have a landslide for the dems if most republican voters are so confused that they have no problem switching parties in this election if they can't get their first choice candidate.

Posted by: aimai | Aug 16, 2007 12:10:26 AM

Unfortunately I feel the voters and even Giuliani are largely irrelevant in this equation. It's all about the media. The are often slow to grab onto a story, but I'm honestly amazed, even for our current slack ass media establishment, at the pass they've been giving him, especially in light of recent events with NYC firefighters, his extra-marital affair and abuse of his office in regards to the terrorist command center. Giuliani is currently UNTOUCHABLE by the big media and until some of those stories break THROUGH, nothing else will matter, not what Hillary says, not what Giuliani says, nothing. America, generally speaking, does not know this man, and the media is happy to keep it that way because they want him as the candidate and possibly as President, the LAST person they want is Clinton.

Posted by: tom.a | Aug 16, 2007 1:15:34 AM

Read the current Vanity Fair piece on Judi Nathan Giuliani and tell me again how he's "untouchable." o one, certainly no one I've seen in print or tv, treats Giuliani with quite the reverence (or deference) that some lefties seem to think - but as I've said, the pictures of him on 9/11 have considerable power. Even with them, though, there's plenty of stuff out there to back up much of what aimai says, and more. I expect we'll get a surprising number of tough hit pieces if he starts winning things.

Posted by: weboy | Aug 16, 2007 5:06:19 AM

What percentage of voters read Vanity Fair?

Posted by: KCinDC | Aug 16, 2007 9:22:34 AM

aimai and the rest: do you really believe HRC and the other candidates (especially HRC) aren't subject to the same kind of reporting?

WEBOY: I was going to add a post specificaly recognizing that was not your angle, but I didn't want to put another P.S. up...sorry about that.

we're selecting the best politician, who we expect to be effective, who will advance OVERALL the most important aspects of our expectations from government. at least that's what I try to do.

Posted by: slickdpdx | Aug 16, 2007 2:16:42 PM

In American politics, I always bet on the id.

ezra, if i were you, i'd double down on the id regarding everything, not just American politics, because that's the way people are wired.

Posted by: harry near indy | Aug 16, 2007 4:12:55 PM

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