Due to the rampant onslaught of Romney propaganda on the blogs of certain high-profile mohos whom I do love dearly, as well as the strangely fawning reporting I see on Utah broadcast journalism, I feel it is my civic duty to stand amidst the incessant banner-waving by posting an excerpt from the Larry King Live interview in which I fell in love with Giuliani, who has my vote for the Republican candidacy until someone can convince me otherwise. I think a strong leadership style comes across in the interview (though less-so in the transcript, I'll concede). From the blame game to abortion to gay rights, I've included some of my favorite comments:
Deciding to Run
KING: So you're running?
GIULIANI: Yes, I'm running.
KING: Final -- what led to the decision?
GIULIANI: I think I can make a difference. I believe that the country needs leadership. I think that we're going through a war on terror -- or a terrorist war against us, which maybe is a better way to describe it. We've got lots of problems that we have to tackle and resolve. We need fiscal discipline. We need better education. We need energy independence. There's so many things that we haven't sort of tackled.
I mean one of the things I do is...
KING: Tackle things.
GIULIANI: Tackle things, yes. Lead. Try to get things done. Try to improve...
KING: It takes a lot of chutzpah, though, doesn't it, to say...
KING: ... I'm the best? That's what you're saying.
GIULIANI: Yes, it does. And very humbling. And it takes a long time to come to a conclusion that with all your imperfections and all the things, you know, that we all are, none of us -- none of us do everything well and none of us are perfect. You have to say to yourself is this something that I can do?
And for a kid from Brooklyn, sometimes you wake up in the morning and say gee...
KING: Is this really --
GIULIANI: ... is this really happening?
And then sometimes you wake up and say I can do this.
My Thoughts: This was the beginning of the seduction. The frank approachability and the lack of pomp was remarkable. He was simply a man who felt he was positioned and skilled enough to make a difference, and I believed him. I may just be an impressionable sap, but I believed him.
The War in Iraq
KING: Let's get to some issues.
A leading industrialist, a friend of mine, said if the United States were a corporation, based on the Iraq War, everyone at the top would be fired.
How would you comment on that? And that -- in other words meaning it ain't going right.
GIULIANI: Yes, but that would have been true -- he would have said the same thing about the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln would have been fired. And he might have said the same thing at the Battle of the Bulge and Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Marshall -- all would have been fired. And...
KING: So you're confident this is all going to turn around?
GIULIANI: Oh, no. No.
KING: Because those -- they turned around.
GIULIANI: No, no. I'm not confident it's all going to turn around.
Who knows that?
I mean, you never know that in the middle of a war. I'm confident that we have to try to make a turnaround, and we just can't walk out and that it is critical to us that things get to the point in Iraq that we have some degree of stability and not the way they are now. Because if we leave it the way it is now and we run out, then we're going to face further difficulties in the future. Then we're going to lose more lives in the future.
I would -- I would have us not disband the army. You wouldn't de-Baathify. See, de-Baathify sounds like the right thing to do because you're getting rid of all the old Saddam guys. But that meant getting rid of the entire civil service. The country had no infrastructure.
My Thoughts: I love the perspective he brings to the issue by adding a historical context and not being afraid to be a balanced voice, basically say, "Listen, I can't look into a crystal ball and predict the outcome of the war, but I can certainly analyze what's going on and figure out how to best approach the situation as it is rather than running from it and leaving a mess."
The Blame Game
KING: So are you -- are you -- who do you blame?
GIULIANI: So you learn from these things.
KING: Do you blame Rumsfeld?
GIULIANI: No, I don't blame anybody.
KING: You don't blame any -- somebody's got to...
GIULIANI: No, no, no. You don't do it that way.
KING: Nobody's to blame?
GIULIANI: You don't do it that way. That's why you don't make progress. Just like I don't blame people for not figuring out September 11 before it happened. What I do is, I kind of look at what happened, so you learn for the future.
KING: But there were mistakes.
GIULIANI: Of course there were mistakes. Lincoln made mistakes. Roosevelt made mistakes. Eisenhower made mistakes. The Battle of the Bulge was the biggest intelligence failure in American military history, much bigger than any in Vietnam or now. We didn't know that the Soviets were moving 400,000 or 500,000 troops. We missed it.
KING: Shouldn't they be blamed for not explaining it well enough?
GIULIANI: Learn from it. Learn from it. Don't blame them.
GIULIANI: Just as the mistakes I made when I was mayor, I tried to learn from them. If I get to be president of the United States, I probably won't make the same mistakes, because I will have learned from them. I'll probably make different ones.
KING: The House is apparently about to vote -- and will vote, apparently -- to say that this 20,000 troops is a mistake.
Now, an important question, do you hold those who vote for that as helping the enemy?
GIULIANI: No, I hold them as...
KING: Because some say that.
GIULIANI: OK. There's a...
KING: You don't?
GIULIANI: I mean, there's -- you can look at the practical and common sense conclusion of it anyway you want. But there's something more important than that.
We have a right of free speech in this country and we elect people to make decisions.
My Thoughts: THANK YOU! Someone who is willing to stop playing the juvenile finger-pointing game thinking he'll save face by making someone else look bad. In elementary school, we call that bullying. He is the first I heard stand up and say, "Listen, blame or no blame, that's not the important question. The question is what we'll do with what we have and what we can learn from the past." Seems like kind of a "duh" thing, but how many candidates are willing to step away from political jousting long enough to give some real perspective? I loved this.
Here's what I would prefer to see them do, though, if you ask me what's my view on that. The non-binding resolution thing gets me more than are you for it or against it. I have tremendous respect for the people who feel that we either made a mistake going to war, who voted against the war, who now have come to the conclusion, changed their minds -- they have every right to that -- that it's wrong. You should, in a dynamic situation, keep questioning.
What I don't like is the idea of a non-binding resolution.
GIULIANI: Because there's no decision.
KING: But it's a -- making a -- it's a statement.
GIULIANI: Yes, but that's what you do. That's what Tim Russert does. That's what Rush Limbaugh does. That's what you guys do, you make comments. We pay them to make decisions, not just to make comments. We pay them to decide. The United States Congress does declarations, the war, that's the...
KING: So are you telling them if you feel that way, withhold funds, if that's the way you feel?
GIULIANI: Well, the ones I -- the ones that I think have a better understanding of what their responsibility is and are willing to take a risk are the ones who are saying we've got to hold back the funds, we've got to vote against the war or we're for the war.
GIULIANI: And maybe it's because I, you know, I ran a government and I tend to be a decisive person. I like decisions. And I think one of the things wrong with Washington is they don't want to make tough decisions anymore.
KING: You know, if you're...
GIULIANI: Non-binding resolution about Iraq; no decision on immigration; no decision on Social Security reform; no decision on what to do about energy independence; no decision. No decision.
You know why that happens?
Because it's unpopular.
My Thoughts: I really loved how he brought us back to remembering what the government's role really is, not getting roped into bickering over whether this or that was "good" or "bad" but seeing the big picture enough to step back and say, "Hey, that's not even what they're hired to do--who cares what congress 'asserts' if they're not even enacting anything concrete?"
GIULIANI: I am pro-choice, yes. But I -- I'm also, as you know -- always have been -- against abortion, hate abortion, don't like it, wouldn't personally advise anyone to have an abortion and -- but I believe a woman has a right to choose. And you can't have criminal penalties and I think that would be wrong.
I would select judges who try to interpret the Constitution rather than invent it, from my views as a lawyer. And I don't want to sound presumptuous, I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but I have argued in the Supreme Court and I have argued in many of the circuit courts.
I've spent more time in court than I have in politics.
And I just think it's very, very important that a judge have a judicial philosophy that says I am going to try to figure out what the framers of the Constitution meant when they wrote this or what the people who amended it meant when they put it in, not what I'd like it to mean, not what I feel it means.
My Thoughts: I love that he is not afraid to make people wrap their minds around the fact that he can, indeed, be personally opposed to something in principle and still uphold people's right to choose by disallowing government interference even when he would just as soon see a practice stop. I, personally, think the law should be defined much like the church's stance on abortion, that it be a careful decision made in extreme circumstances but wholly proscribed as a simple way of escaping consequences of choices. So I would say I'm semi-pro-choice and don't see the subject as a "woman's right to choose" as much as a "baby's right to live," but I still respect Giuliani's commitment to principle enough that I would respect him in the office.
KING: You're pro -- basically, the gay movement, right, that gays have equal rights to heteros, that they be treated the same way in society…in hospitals... insurance benefits and all of that?
GIULIANI: Gays should be protected. I signed The Domestic Partnership Law in New York. But the way I'm portrayed by my opponents -- and I guess to drive people away from me -- is that I'm in favor of gay marriage. I am not. I did 220 weddings. They were all between a man and a woman. I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. At least, I hope they were all between a man and a woman. It looked that way at the time.
But, yes, I believe that marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman and that the way to handle this, and the way to handle respect and everything else is to have something like domestic partnership, which I support.
My Thoughts: His position here is not much different from Romney's, but again what I loved about this response compared with everyone else's is that he didn't fall into defending his belief in marriage. He simply stated it, then focused on a need for human respect and opportunity to choose within certain bounds and made it clear that whether or not he agrees, he will respect. Other candidates give token expressions about tolerance, but they then go right back to rhetoric that will ensure that their right-wing constituency couldn't possibly construe their tolerance as overlooking sin. I just don't feel the simple, human respect come across as deeply and as genuinely as it did from Giuliani. He's not LDS and isn't as good-looking as his currently front-running competitor, so call me kooky, but I like the guy, and if the vote were today, he'd have my vote.
The full text of the transcript is available at http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0702/14/lkl.01.html.