If there’s one issue upon which Rudy Giuliani hasn’t really been accused of flip-flopping or distorting his record, it’s terrorism and national security — though some critics have suggested that Giuliani’s shifts on immigration represent waffling on a national security issue. Considering that Rudy’s reputation as the tough and decisive ‘America’s Mayor’ following the events of 9/11 is the foundation of his presidential campaign, the Giuliani camp has been more than willing to aggressively play the terrorism card.
In the first Republican debate, for instance, Giuliani tore into fellow candidate Ron Paul (R-Tx) for suggesting the U.S. claim a portion of the ultimate responsibility for 9/11.
Ron Paul: ‘”Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we’ve been over there; we’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years and we’ve been in the Middle East. I think Reagan was right: we don’t understand the irrationality of middle eastern politics… We need to look at what we do from the perspective from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us.”
Moderator: “Are you suggesting we brought on the 9/11 attacks, sir?”
Ron Paul: “I’m suggesting that we listen to the people that attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we’re over there because Osama Bin Laden has said ‘I am glad you’re over on our sand because we can target you so much easier.’ They’ve already now since that time have killed 3400 of our men and I don’t think it was necessary.”
Giuliani: “Would you allow me to comment on that? That’s an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived though the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th.”
Giuliani: “And I would ask the Congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn’t really mean that.”
Ron Paul: “I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about ‘blowback.’ When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the Shah, yes there was blowback. The reaction to that was the taking of our hostages. And that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don’t come here to attack us because we’re rich and we’re free, they attack us because we’re over there. I mean, what would we think if other countries were doing that to us?”
According to most media pundits, Giuliani won the debate, though Ron Paul’s popularity on the internet and conservative talk radio skyrocketed. The Giuliani campaign has reiterated its position again recently in response to John Edwards’ characterization of the ‘War on Terror’ as a “bumper sticker” term with no real content. Like Hillary Clinton, Rudy out of conviction or determination to appear tough has decided to maintain that the ‘War on Terror’ has been at least philosophically successful so far, with problems emerging purely from logistics. Clinton and Giuliani’s gamble assumes that not very many voters in either party have decided otherwise.
So Giuliani is endorsing a stance of steely offensive resolve and swift and decisive forceful action against terrorists over seeking to understand the enemy and their grievances. If candidate consistency were only based on their rhetoric, then Rudy would be in the clear. But is his rhetoric consistent with fact?