Poor Rudy. His flip-flops on the abortion question to appease the religious right in his party (and they all do it, from Romney to McCain to Bush 41 to Reagan) have gotten him in a bit of hot water with his adoring public.
His current posture has left past political allies and abortion rights supporters dismayed over what they regard as his backsliding. At the same time, he has hardly endeared himself to conservative activists who disagree with his overall support for abortion rights.
"I'm ashamed of him," said Fran Reiter, who was New York's deputy mayor for economic development and planning during Giuliani's first administration and was his 1997 reelection campaign manager. Reiter, a strong advocate of abortion rights, added: "I feel a certain betrayal."
Giuliani adviser Jim Dyke countered by saying, "His position doesn't fit into a sound bite or on a bumper sticker." Yesterday's speech, he added, was designed "to let people have a clear understanding of where he stands and what this pro-choice Republican would mean as president."
But there's a problem for Dyke's candidate. Guiliani's party is both intolerant and unforgiving on the issue of choice (sparking this warning from the WSJ). In fact, the contretemps over choice is not going away, and it's even threatening to obscure Rudy's ethical lapses and poor judgment when it comes to Bernie Kerik, OxyContin, and the kind of sleazy politics that the GOP never really has a problem with (but the public does).
Charlie Cook, for one, has never thought Rudy had much of a shot at the GOP ticket, because of structural issues like the pro-choice one.
"I'll win the Tour de France before Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination."
The thing is, all the GOP candidates have structural issues, including McCain's bonding with the unpopular Bush on the unpopular war. That's why the party faithful are so depressed, and into pretending that Fred Thompson is presidential material (he'll be the guest speaker at the Prescott Bush Awards Dinner in CT, so he gets to persuade New Englanders the way he did Orange County Californians). But politics being what it is, we can only watch one painful train wreck at a time before we look away.