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Presidential contender Rudolph Giuliani is making a gamble, which, if successful, will change the face of partisan politics in America: You don’t have to be pro-life or pro-traditional family to be a Republican — you just have to be tough on terror.

Giuliani infamously wiggled on the question of abortion during the first Republican debate, but clarified his solidly pro-choice position when he spoke to a conservative group in Texas last Friday. In effect, Giuliani reaffirmed his 1997 answers to NARAL Pro-Choice America’s questionnaire in which he supports tax dollars going to every form of abortion, including partial-birth abortion and abortions for minors without parental notification.

On almost every social issue, Giuliani is separating himself from the official party platform. Last week, I highlighted his very mixed record on immigration reform. Add to this his support for gay marriage, strict gun control, embryonic stem-cell research, and above all his renewed advocacy for every type of abortion, and it’s fair to say, that if the Republican party nominates him as their candidate, they will be saying social issues don’t really matter … that much.

Rudolph Giuliani’s gamble is not a secret. On Friday, he explained his rationale:

“The mere fact that I am standing here running for president of the United States with the views that I have, that are different in some respects on some of these issues, shows that we much more adequately represent the length and breadth and the opinions of America than the other party does.”

In other words, according to Giuliani, Republicans should broaden the tent pegs and welcome people like him who align themselves with the social platform of their competing party. I don’t think his rationale will work. Thinking Republicans aren’t Republicans because they like the sound of the name, or because they have a particular attraction toward elephants. They choose their party (as do thinking Democrats) because its platform is most consistent with their views. It is logical to assume that if the Republican platform changes on the issues its constituents care about deeply, they will change parties or start their own.

In defense of Giuliani, some have argued his promise to elect “strict constitutionalists” to the Supreme Court is good enough for the pro-life cause, because, after all, a president doesn’t legislate. But that opinion would only hold water if all “constitutionalists” view Roe v. Wade in the same way. They don’t. As his answer in the first debate revealed, Giuliani knows some “constitutionalists” see Roe v. Wade as bad law and will try to overturn it, but he also knows other “constitutionalists,” while still seeing it as bad law, say it should be preserved because abortion rights are so entrenched in American society that overturning it would entail overreaching the court’s mandate.

If NARAL gives Rudolph Giuliani an A+ for his views on abortion, should be there any doubt that, as president, he would find “constitutionalists” who would defend Roe v Wade?

Mr. Giuliani’s conservative lifesaver, he would argue, is his unique ability to save us from future terrorist attacks. He is arguing that if the Democrats get elected, we are going to be in greater danger, and because he was so tough in New York after 9-11, he is the perfect candidate to take terrorists to task. Maybe, maybe not. Safety is always a good thing, and it is very compelling in times of danger like these, but are Republican constituents willing to sacrifice every other major issue with the hope that their candidate will be hawkish, and successful (?) like President George W. Bush on international affairs? I don’t think so.

If Rudolph Giuliani is nominated as the Republican candidate, it will signify a monumental shift in American politics. Republicans would be telling their leaders they care less about who they are and what they stand for, and more about being around, safely, to talk about it. That kind of shallow thinking, I suggest, would be hard for thinking people to get excited about.

God bless, Father Jonathan
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P.S. Beginning tomorrow, I will publish here on this blog snippets from my diary about being on assignment in Turkey this week, and the status of religious liberty in that country.

Today’s Selection of Interesting Articles

Values and Politics

Virginia’s Governor Kaine Speaks from a New Pulpit
DNC Chair Dean Says Party Needs to Invite More Young, Evangelical Christians
Giuliani Challenges Republicans on Social Issues
Blair’s Iraq Legacy Worries Church Leaders

Social Trends

U.S. Divorce Rate Declines, Reason Unclear
Job Market Looks Promising for Grads
Gender Roles Come Together in American Families
How to Respond to a Rapidly Changing Youth Culture

Ethical Dilemmas

Scientists Rush In Where Angels May Tread
Face-Recognition Systems Weighed as Next Weapon Against Terrorism, but Technology Concerns Privacy Advocates
‘Blood Diamond’ Movie Fails to Dent Diamond Sales
Louisiana Working to Change State’s Ethical Image

Religion

Don’t Close My Church - and Here’s Why
Evangelical Lutherans Try to Attract More Black Members
Self-Reliance, the National Ideology of North Korea, Named ‘World’s 10th Largest Religion’
Christians and Atheists Start a Calmer Dialogue

Not All News is Bad News

Chair a Symbol of Church’s Resiliency
Catholic Church to Honor Amish Families with Peace Award
Family Members say Faith got them through after fire destroyed home
Pennsylvania Church Fulfills Mandate to Help

News Which Never Made the News

• 'Chastity is Always the Toughest Subject Here': In Brazil, Pope Stresses Morality
Resident Worship in Tornado-Torn Town
Muslim Calls to Prayer Heard at Fort Riley: Army Says Its for Training, Others Say It’s Adding Additional Stress
Chad Demobilises Child Soldiers

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