Giuliani the Winner from the Foley Page Scandal?
This is interesting. You wouldn't think D.C. pundits would finger Rudy as a beneficiary of the Congressional page scandal, "baggage" and all, but Republican strategist Matt Lewis says that he is. It's a pretty compelling argument that centers around Rudy's status as an outsider poised to come in and clean up Washington. Some of the best bits:
2. He's an Outsider: Currently, it appears that anyone elected to Federal office is (to a certain extent) tainted from this. (Sure, there's an anti-Republican sentiment -- but there is an anti-Washington sentiment bubbling.) This anti-Washington sentiment hurts Sen. McCain, Sen. Allen, Sen. Frist -- and it probably even affects Democrats such as Sen. Biden and Sen. Clinton. Even past office holders, like former Speaker Newt Gingrich, can be associated with being an "insider." But because Rudy was a Mayor -- instead of a Senator or Congressman -- he isn't tainted one bit. Outsiders (like governors) have always done better in presidential races, anyway. But I think this scandal reinforces that maxim. The question is whether or not this phenomenon will stick until '08.
3. He's Out of Office: Not only was Rudy not a Federal office holder -- he isn't currently elected to anything. While Sen. McCain, Sen. Frist, Sen. Allen and Gov. Romney still have to be a "politician" from time to time (some more so than others), Giuliani (like Reagan in 1980) isn't elected to anything. This means he doesn't have to do the pandering that is required of someone running for political office -- or building coalitions needed to pass legislation. In short, being out of office allows Rudy to be "his own man."
Lots of folks have been wondering about the "method to the madness" of Rudy's staying out of active Presidential campaigning. Lewis says its this:
4. He's Below the Radar: Giuliani's absence from the political fray has preserved his image as an outsider. If he were campaigning aggressively for president, he may not have been immune from being attached to the GOP's woes right now. What is more, Rudy isn't going out of his way to bash Rep. Foley or Speaker Hastert -- something that most "politicians" looking to run in '08 would be doing. While it might be tempting to bash DC-insiders and tout his status as an outsider, doing so now would appear to be opportunistic. He is wise to stay below the radar.
It's interesting to see how McCain and Giuliani position themselves if the GOP sustains significant losses on November 7th. McCain has been proclaiming as loudly as he can that the base is demoralized about spending, and implying that the GOP deserves to lose power because of its overspending and "hypocrisy," most recently at the British Conservative conference on Sunday. That may speak to the base's anger at Republicans, but it also smacks of purposefully trying to destroy the party so he can position himself as the White Knight trying to save it. It's also got a "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" feel as he's been the one thwarting conservative plans on immigration and terrorist tribunals, denying the President some quick base-motivating victories.
Rudy has the message I think will resonate better: he's an outsider coming to shake things up. Can you really trust someone from Washington to change Washington? McCain may play up that he's right on one of a handful of base-angering issues, but the insider vs. outsider contrast is one I think Republicans will instinctively grasp.