Jewish World Review July 8, 2003/ 8 Tamuz 5763


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Consumer Reports

Rudy's Senate-Bound And a grudge match against Hillary looms | Rudy Giuliani is never going to be president. And he's smart enough to know that. The former mayor gave a revealing answer to Time's Amanda Bower in the June 30 issue when she asked if he'd like to occupy the Oval Office. Giuliani said: "I've never really seriously sat down and thought about it. [And the Mets will win the World Series this year.] I almost think it's arrogant, something you just don't do unless there's a realistic possibility."

Translated, Rudy understands that a pro-choice candidate who's also an outspoken advocate of gay rights has no chance of winning a Republican presidential primary. Those are simply the facts of political life in the United States today, despite the residual admiration (and lucrative speaking fees) Giuliani enjoys among the public in the aftermath of Sept. 11. The same rules apply to Democrats: There will never be, at least in the near future, a nominee who's opposed to abortion. In both parties, the core constituencies wouldn't allow it.

The 2008 showdown is five years away, but it's no secret that Florida governor Jeb Bush — who's limited to two terms and will be out of office in '06 — is already running. Senate majority leader Bill Frist, just seven months ago considered a leading contender, has lost any luster after a rocky start in his new post. If George W. Bush wins reelection, it could be a catfight between his brother and Sen. Hillary Clinton.

But if the president's winning a second term falls into the "big if" category, so does Clinton's securing a second term as New York's senator. Which brings us back to Rudy. The GOP nomination for either governor or senator is a virtual lock for him in 2006 — barring bad health — and it's my bet that Giuliani is relishing a run against Clinton and the chance to retire that rotten apple from politics.

When asked by Bower to evaluate Clinton's performance as New York's junior senator, Giuliani diplomatically evaded the question while at the same time offering a telling rationale for opposing her. He said: "[Clinton] has a very different philosophy, a very different approach to government... For example, I am a very, very big supporter of a reduction in capital gains tax and a reduction in taxation to stimulate the economy... Lower federal tax rates mean more dollars in the New York economy because we send a lot more money to Washington than we get back. I think our senators have to be fighting for getting more of those tax dollars back into the New York economy."

That answer indicates that Giuliani has no desire for the relative obscurity of Albany and instead is planning on pursuing a national stage, just as Clinton did in 2000 when she methodically defeated an unprepared Rick Lazio.

Pity the Cuomos

Granted, the bread and butter of the few tabloids still publishing in the United States is sensationalism, in addition to sports and gossip, but Post editor Col Allan has really hit the overkill button in his coverage of the Andrew Cuomo-Kerry Kennedy marital split. I don't agree with the politics of either spouse, but have no interest whatsoever in their impending divorce. In fact, the gross invasion of privacy justifiably elicits sympathy for the pair and their three young daughters.

Even more ridiculous is the paper repeatedly invoking Edward Klein's The Kennedy Curse. Huh? Let's get this straight: No one died in an accident, was murdered, abducted, sexually abused or maimed. In a family as large as the Kennedys', divorce and infidelity are common, just as they are in the rest of the country. Unlike Bill Clinton, whose weird dalliance with Monica Lewinsky was legitimate news because he lied to the nation while performing as commander-in-chief, Cuomo is not a public servant; nor is his wife. Their domestic problems are nobody's business but their own, and while the fame attached to the names Kennedy and Cuomo perhaps legitimates a one-day story, the continuing front-page "scoops" are stomach-churning.

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I like the Post, mainly for the conservative politics, correspondent Deborah Orin, its unswerving support of Israel, Keith Kelly's media tidbits and even Page Six, and I appreciate the need to sell newspapers, but this is matter of right and wrong. I'd gain a lot of respect for either op-ed columnist John Podhoretz or political reporter Fred Dicker if one or both of them disassociated themselves from this gross lapse in scruples.

On the subject of marriage, I found myself in rare agreement with the Washington Post's paleolib pundit E.J. Dionne, who wrote on July 1 about the Supreme Court's rational decision to overturn Texas' antiquated ban on sodomy. Dionne does lay it on a little thick, writing: "Using the word 'gay' in a public utterance, including a newspaper column, is in my experience more incendiary that invoking the word 'Clinton.'"

Oh, c'mon. I can think of at least a dozen words more "incendiary" than "gay," starting with nigger, gook (although John McCain gets away with it), spic, wetback and kike.

Nevertheless, I agree with Dionne that gay marriage is hardly the biggest problem facing this country today. What law-abiding citizens do in private is none of my concern, and it's a harmless step to make homosexual unions legal.

Dionne's conclusion is on the mark: "By all means' let us strengthen the family. But let's not make gays the victim of culture wars among consenting, heterosexual adults. Those of us who live in (for lack of a better term) old-fashioned families could begin by attending to our own problems, and our own obligations."

As noted above, this is an issue that President Bush and the GOP won't touch, since it would alienate their conservative base. And I don't blame Bush for the stance one iota, since his reelection is far more crucial to the country than taking a controversial stand on a social issue. Frankly, I doubt that he really cares one way or the other about gay marriage, but he can't say that in public. What'll be far more interesting is how the Democratic presidential candidates answer the inevitable questions from politically active gay groups. Here's a guess: Every single serious contender will fudge the position, leaving it to the likes of Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich to champion the cause.

Dick Gephardt, who's parading his lesbian daughter around to appropriate audiences, bears particular scrutiny on the question. I continue to believe he has the best shot against Bush, but if he pulls a John Kerry and waffles on the issue, he'll have plenty of "splainin" to do.

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JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press ( Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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