HH: Joined now by Terrence Jeffrey. He’s editor at large for Human Events. Hi, Terry. How are you?
TJ: Hey, how are you doing?
HH: Gosh, you ripped the side out of Rudy today. I read that and I said holy smokin’ Joe, we’ve got to talk to Terry. You don’t like the guy.
TJ: Well, I’m not…I don’t know the man, but I’m not for him for president, I’ll tell you that.
HH: Well, let’s…by the way, you make a very interesting argument, the continuum argument. Would you explain to people how you go from Rudy’s continuum of crimes to his continuum of life issues?
TJ: Well, there’s this great quote from Rudy Giuliani that was printed by Steve Malanga in a piece he wrote for the City Journal, where Rudy said graffiti is not a big crime, but when you have a climate where you allow graffiti, it encourages murder. The point…that’s a paraphrase of it, obviously, but the point is, where you breed disrespect for the law, even at the level where you let people cover New York City in graffiti, it creates a climate where murder is more likely, and I agree with Rudy Giuliani on that. But the thing is, here is a guy who has countenanced legalized abortion, at least up until yesterday, all the way up until partial birth abortion. And you have to ask, you know, if graffiti leads to murder, what does partial birth abortion lead to?
HH: Well now, you’ve got written in here, Rudy is neither conservative nor electable, at least not as a Republican presidential candidate. But of course, you’ve got to have seen these polls, Terry Jeffrey. He’s leading in many places, and second place in all the others.
TJ: Right. Well, no doubt about it, and here’s my analysis there. First of all, in the Republican primaries, there’s the USA Today/Gallup Poll out February 1st, which said that 75% of Republican voters don’t know Rudy’s position on marriage, he favors same sex civil unions that are essentially the same thing as marriage, and only 64% don’t know his position on abortion. I think that in states like Iowa and South Carolina, when people find out where he actually stands on marriage and abortion, his numbers are going to go down. But secondly, even if Rudy Giuliani were to get the Republican nomination, which I don’t think he will, the truth is, in the key swing states in a national election, the key swing vote will go Republican on social and cultural issues, particularly, for example, in a state like Ohio, which was crucial to Bush in 2004. If John Kerry had won Ohio, John Kerry would be president of the United States today. In Ohio in 2004, they had a marriage amendment on the ballot, got 65% or more of the vote. It was much more popular than George Bush.
HH: How about this, though, Terry.
HH: That American electoral politics has changed dramatically with the rise of new media. People get it, and they understand that presidents really don’t have much to do with abortion, they really don’t have much to do with marriage, same sex or otherwise, they don’t have much to do with other than national security and economic policy and the growth of government, and when it comes to those big three, but especially national security, Rudy’s got the chops?
TJ: Well, you know, I think given what we know about the way Rudy Giuliani behaved on 9/11, which was spectacularly well, and the fact that he really did clean up Manhattan and New York City in general on crime, I will give him credit in that area. I think he probably could be a pretty good commander in chief on the national security issues, although we don’t really know what his foreign policy is, and I think we’re living in a very complex world where prudence means understanding the real nature of the enemy, and I’d want to hear more from him about how he understands the U.S. position in the world before I came to a definitive conclusion on that. However, we right now have a Supreme Court that is probably divided 5-4 on key social and cultural issues. I do believe the president of the United States, not only in the role of being in the bully pulpit, but also in the role of naming people to the United States Supreme Court, will have a crucial role in determining whether this is a pro-life or pro-death country in the future, whether the institution of traditional marriage survives or not, and I would simply not trust a man like Rudy Giuliani nominating people to the Supreme Court.
HH: Now you quote Russell Kirk in the Conservative Mind as the first canon of conservatism, this is in your fine piece at Nationalreview.com today, very provocative, that belief in a transcendent order or body of natural law which rules society as well as conscience is sort of the first canon of being a conservative. But I go back to great abolitionists like John Adams, accepting as the necessary leader of the country, first Washington, and then other abolitionists accepting Jefferson and his turn, because they realized that it was more important to hold the Union together and survive as a young republic than to be right on slavery, which was obviously an issue of transcendent natural law as well, even as abortion is now. We agree on that.
TJ: Right. Well, you know, I’ll say this. I think that Thomas Jefferson had a miserable record on slavery. I think that George Washington spent the latter part of his life trying to grapple with the issue of slavery, and finally made, in a remarkable move, by freeing all of his slaves in his will, which I believe he felt he had to do to present a moral example to the country. John Adams was always outspoken against slavery. John Quincy Adams spent his career in the House of Representative, after he had been president, doing nothing but harassing the Congressmen from the slave states.
HH: I know that. By the way, Washington didn’t free his slaves in his will. He provided they be freed after Martha died. But I want to go back to the point, though…
HH: …that abolitionists accepted people they considered flawed. They didn’t know about his will when they elected Washington, they swung behind Jefferson in large numbers as well when they realized they could not carry the Union in the presidential election of 1800. So what’s the problem with having Rudy as the president, and just realizing the the states and the Congress are going to have to do the hard work on the social issues?
TJ: You know, ultimately, I believe in political realism, which means you do, you seek the optimum answer you can get, given the time. And I certainly do not believe at this time in our history when we’ve actually made a lot of progress on the pro-life cause in particular, and where the country is clearly demonstrated in initiatives in I think about 20 states, where they stand on traditional marriage, that the Republican Party has to compromise at this point in our history on issues as fundamental as the right to life and on marriage…
HH: Okay, so my last question for you is, if you had to cast a vote today in a Republican primary near you, who would you vote for?
TJ: If it were in Virginia?
HH: And declared candidates only.
TJ: I would probably vote for Tom Tancredo, to tell you the truth.
HH: Are you out of your mind?!?!?!?
TJ: Not that I think that Tom Tancredo is electable, and not that I think that Tom Tancredo is…
HH: Terry, okay, I’m going to change my question. Between Romney, McCain and Giuliani, who would you vote for?
TJ: I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.
TJ: I would not vote for Giuliani. I can absolutely tell you I would not vote for Giuliani. Between McCain and Romney? I don’t know.
HH: All right. We’ll follow that up. Tancredo? Wow, you stunned me there.
End of interview.