At The New York Times’ select website, there’s an article (which will not be accessible unless you’re a paid subscriber) entitled “A Right Turn On The Road to Giuliani ’08.” I can’t quote it too extensively because, well, the Times is charging for it because they’re a business. With newspaper circulation continuing to decline, it’s hard to judge them too severely for that. Anyway, it sharply criticizes Rudy Giuliani for what the author views as flip-flops on abortion choice, gun control, and especially immigration:
‘As mayor, Mr. Giuliani ordered that [illegal immigrants] not be denied city services like schools and hospitals. He insisted that city workers not serve, in effect, as immigration agents. His policies swam against the national Republican tide. […]
‘Where he once spoke firmly about tending even to illegal immigrants, he now puts more stress on penalizing them. Where he once talked about their contributions, he now urges tougher border controls. Where he once forbade his police force to ask a person’s immigration status, he now wants illegal immigrants to be issued identity cards. […]
‘”It is post-9/11,” [Ms. Oltarsh-McCarthy] said. “But it seems to me that inherent in that assumption is that immigrants are potential criminals. He never before spoke of immigrants as criminals. It scares me that he would move to a place where people are demonized like this. He was steadfastly against the idea of people having to carry ID cards. He saw is as un-American.” […]
‘The flip-flop accusation, hardly a plus for any candidate, is especially important in Mr. Giuliani’s case because he presents himself as a singular anchor of principle, not someone who bends in the political winds.
‘Yet bend he seems to have done. As mayor, he was fully for abortion rights. As a presidential candidate, he says he would appoint “strict constructionists” to the Supreme Court — code, to many, for undermining Roe v. Wade.
‘As mayor, he supported federal gun-control legislation. As a candidate, he emphasizes that states should figure out their own gun laws. (He is also a states-rights advocate these days on flying the Confederate flag. As mayor, he said a federal flat tax “would really be a disaster.” As a candidate, he says it “would make a lot of sense.” […]
The New York Times’ article is interesting on a variety of levels. It does point out issues on which Giuliani, at least so far as his critics charge, has flip-flopped or at least changed his rhetoric. His views on gun control, for instance, really have changed as he no longer backs national standards in favor of a state-by-state system. And on abortion and immigration, Rudy’s language and rhetorical conceptualization of the issues have changed significantly.
But is the New York Times, even as “All The News Fit To Print,” necessarily an entirely reliable source? Their view is not universal. In an interview with U.S. News & World Report, Democratic pollster Geoff Garin recently admired Giuliani: “Rather than change on issues where he was liberal, he is emphasizing the record on where he was conservative. You get a more conservative profile without embarrassing flip-flops.” Even one of his ideological opponents, former NYC mayor Ed Koch, has defended Giuliani from allegations of flip-flopping on immigration, claiming that Giuliani is less responsible than many think for laws extending benefits to illegal aliens.
The New York Times has made no secret of its boosterism on immigration, supporting the ragingly controversial “path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and temporary visas for new workers” that it calls “the more humane elements of reform” but that others assert is responsible for rising income inequality and is ultimately harmful to U.S. workers. The question is whether the Times’ passion for opening the borders tilts their coverage of immigration as an issue and might predispose them against any politician who takes a restrictionist position — or, in Giuliani’s case, a politician who talks tough without delineating any specifics. The most damning statements in their story are made by an interviewee, which insulates the paper from charges of political smearing. In this case, so far as immigration is concerned, the Times appears to be hyping a change in frame and focus as a flip-flop that really does not quite exist. Even politicans deserve better treatment than that, especially when they’re making serious bids to become the most powerful leader in the world.