GIULIANI THE PANDERER UPDATE. The New York Times ran a very long piece Sunday on Rudy Giuliani's complicated history with racial politics. Most of the information was not new to people familiar with recent New York history. One tidbit I hadn't known, though, and found quite striking was that Giuliani initially attempted in his 1989 mayoral run to position himself to the left of Democratic incumbent Ed Koch on racial issues. Giuliani hoped to pull a significant portion of the black vote away from Koch, but when David Dinkins beat Koch in the Democratic primary Giuliani instantly shifted to rightward, labeling Dinkins a "Jesse Jackson Democrat."

This reinforces a suspicion I've long had about Giuliani: not that he's a racist, but that he's a soulless panderer. I disagree, though, with those who think this makes him even more frightening as a potential president than a true-believing social conservative like Mike Huckabee or Sam Brownback. Since most of the country isn't as conservative as the Republican base it makes me suspect that Giuliani would govern somewhere to the left of most of the other GOP candidates. But if he's doing so out of pure expediency, without a shred of moral commitment, that's pretty cold comfort.

--Ben Adler