GOD, GUNS, AND ABORTION (AND RUDY GIULIANI). Peter J. Boyer's examination of Rudy Giuliani's surprisingly successful bid for conservative voters is a pretty interesting read. It starts off in South Carolina:

The lobby opens at either end to the state’s two legislative chambers, which, in March, ratified an amendment to the state constitution that bans not only gay marriage but gay civil unions. That month, the state house of representatives also passed a bill requiring any woman considering abortion to reflect upon an ultrasound image of the fetus.

It was here that Rudolph Giuliani, New York’s thrice-married, anti-gun, pro-gay, pro-choice former mayor, found himself one morning in April, in what appeared to be a critical moment in his young campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination. The previous day, during a campaign stop in Florida, he was asked by CNN’s Dana Bash if he supported the public funding of abortions. Giuliani seemed flustered by the question and finally answered, “If that’s the status of the law, I would, yes.”

So how does that play in one of the most conservative states in the nation? Well, not so badly:

Giuliani finally arrived, and after a few remarks he asked for questions from the gathering. When the subject of public funding of abortion came up, Giuliani did not invoke Louis Lefkowitz. He said he knew that many people would disagree with his position on abortion and other social issues. “But what I ask them to do if they disagree is to take a look at my whole record and see if, in the context of my whole record, I still wouldn’t be the best person to lead the country right now, given the threat we have from terrorism.” Here he paused and added, “And, I think, given the threat we have from Democrats.” The audience laughed. Giuliani went on, “Which is not the same thing.” The audience laughed again. “The Democrats will lead us to more socialism-type solutions to our problems.”

The obvious change of subject -- "My abortion views? Uh, Democrats are socialists" -- is pretty staggering. Yet a lot of people it's addressed to seem not to mind. And Boyer is probably right as to why:

To conservatives, pre-Giuliani New York was a study in failed liberalism, a city that had surrendered to moral and physical decay, crime, racial hucksterism, and ruinous economic pathologies. Perhaps the most common words that Giuliani heard when he travelled around the country this spring were epithets aimed at his city (“a crime-infested cesspool,” one Southern politician declared), offered without fear of giving offense. Giuliani cheerfully agreed.

There are similarities here between Giuliani's New York City and Mitt Romney's Massachusetts (this election's theme of GOP guy runs against his former constituency is pretty odd, when you think about it). While NYC without Rudy is thought of by some as a bastion of racialized crime, Massachusetts without Mitt is thought to be a crazy liberal commune where Michael Dukakis and Ted Kennedy are considered moderates. They did what they had to do to get by there and made liberal places relatively more conservative than they were beforehand, so goes the narrative, although Giuliani's situation is somewhat more sinister, bound up as it is in multiple contexts of racism in particular. Not that that hurts him with certain audiences.

But what about the fact that Giuliani is pretty relatively to the left on a broad range of social issues? "What Giuliani needed, perhaps, was a fight," Boyer writes, and he got one with Ron Paul at the debate. When Paul said, "They attack us because we've been over there," Giuliani went livid and interrupted the questioning, referencing 9/11 and bringing the crowd to applause.

And so Rudy Giuliani becomes the favored candidate for president because while guns and abortion are important, so too is God. And if God hates anything more than gun-less men and baby-less women, it's Islamofascism.

--Steven White