Could Rudy Giuliani Emerge as the Would-be Prince of Friendly Fascism? by Paul A. Donovan

by Paul A. Donovan
featured writer
Dandelion Salad


“Figuring some of the odds”

From July 6th to July 9th of 2007, Strategic Vision conducted a gallop poll out of 1,200 likely voters in the state of Pennsylvania that provided interesting yet predictable results. In overwhelming numbers, Republican and Democratic voters alike were dissatisfied with Bush’s handling of everything from the war in Iraq (20% approval rating), the economy (21% satisfied), and his overall performance (23% gave him the thumbs up). Hardly desirable statistics for George Bush or Republican presidential hopefuls.

However, when one examines such a poll, one can readily conclude that the level of Republican dissatisfaction with Bush’s performance provides the Democrats with an incredible opportunity to capitalize on the ominous shadow Bush is casting over the Republican Party. Increasingly, many Republicans have distanced themselves in rhetoric and practice from President Bush for this very reason. Recently, presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani tried to seek some shelter from Hurricane Bush by stating that America lacks the “strong, aggressive, bold leadership” of Republican legend Ronald Reagan. (It would be nice if the Democrats would finally stiffen their spines and take a tougher stance against Bush as well, considering they have voted for the war in Iraq, voted for mostly all war spending bills, and have not impeached a target as vulnerable as a beached whale. So let’s not go and pat our boys and girls in blue on the back for being much better than their pro-corporate brethren.)

Over the last seven years, President Bush has become a caricature of himself. The beady-eyed multimillionaire Texan, famous for dismembering his own businesses, the English language, the Constitution, Hurricane Katrina prevention and relief efforts, the Middle East, and everything else he has ever touched has appeared to the public as not only incompetent and corrupt but also profoundly stupid, but incorrectly viewed much of the time as solely responsible. Unfortunately, our preoccupation with Bush’s ridiculous idiosyncrasies has distracted us from the fact that Bush is hardly alone in calling the shots—no American president ever is. Right now he is merely the public face for the interests of the unelected government, the plutocratic and corporate elite, and in that sense the lightning rod for massive disenchantment with the more diffuse political quarters that actually control the nation.

Now that I have stated the obvious in respect to Bush, what I find most interesting about the Strategic Vision poll is that 77% of Republicans noted that President Bush is not a conservative in the same “mode” as Ronald Reagan, which may come as a shock to many observers who still retain a modicum of sanity, for that is exactly what he is, an activist for corporate welfare, warmongering, and selling the people of this country a vision of the world upside down. Conservatives, of course, are always talking about the necessity to return to a world that never was, an Eden once upon a time of little or no government, where markets functioned smoothly to give everyone what s/he needed in perfect accordance with talent and merit, a society devoid of gross social injustice, wars, crime, or even monopolies. Apparently a capacity for astonishing delusions is a requisite in the conservative affiliation.

As I’ve stated Rudy Giuliani is currently attempting to disengage himself from Bush by identifying himself closely with the heritage of Republican patron saint Ronald Reagan—and slippery beast that he is, he’s momentarily succeeding. (Considering that Reagan had pretty much the same cast of malefactors in his administration—the Rumsfelds, the Perles, the Elliot Abramses, the Cheneys, Wolfowitzes, and the rest of the Neocon mafia, one could easily argue that, if alive, Reagan might be doing exactly what Bush is doing. To Bush’s credit he has not yet attempted to bankrupt this nation by reinitiating Reagan’s Star Wars project, in hope to zap terrorists from the cosmos, so maybe small differences do exist, but nevertheless slight.) In any case at this point 44% of Republicans support Rudy Giuliani as the most viable candidate for the Republican nomination, with southerner Fred Thompson slowly climbing to 16% in second place, John McCain in 3rd place at 10%, Mitt Romney at 6% in 4th place, and conservative Libertarian Ron Paul at only 2% in dead last. Given these margins it would appear that Giuliani has more than a fair chance of locking up the nomination, but as we will see, the road to the coronations is still far from wide open, and Giuliani, for all his enormous ambition, may end up with egg on his face.

Lovin’ Rudy is no easy task for some.

The current ranking is precisely what’s setting off the alarms in many Republican quarters. In the eyes of many conservatives, especially the radical religious right, the by now fabled law-and-order Mayor Rudy Giuliani, hero of 9/11, a man long groomed and equipped with neo-conservative visions and dependability to serve the class interests of big business, is also a man who fails the test as the top Republican choice in the realm of “moral values” and gun control, both treasured (and time-tested) components of the Republican faux populist agenda. The GOP’s top spinmasters, serving the real “party owners,” know that without them firmly in place their voting base could be severely shaken up and possibly seriously eroded by 2008.

As most readers know, many Republican voters hold close to the hope that Roe v. Wade will one day be overturned, and remain zealous in their belief that no American should be deprived of his “Constitutional right” to hoard large arsenals of hunting and combat weapons, not to mention a bewildering array of small arms munitions. (The explanation for this peculiar attitude in an age of extremely sophisticated weapons that include armored APCs, urban tanks, DU munitions, hunt helicopters, and an enormous repressive apparatus of police, paramilitary and mercenaries, not to mention the regular armed forces, is that one day isolated citizens may have to stand up to their government’s increasingly repressive policies or defend their homesteads against marauding hordes of barbarians in a society in which all semblance of civility has broken down—basically the survivalist’s Road Warrior scenario.) Of course, this is the same “red state” mentality that while fixated on such “moral issues” as abortion and gay marriage, seems oblivious to its own economic and even health interests, neglecting universal healthcare, digging its heels on Iraq, showing disdain and even hostility to environmentalist concerns, and paralysis in the face of deepening job insecurity.

It is important to recall here that while the Republican oligarchy loudly proclaim to care deeply about “moral values” they do so only for political expediency, as their main and true objective is always the maximization of profits and advantages at the expense of the public’s well being, since those constitute the material base for the perpetuation of their power and privileged lifestyles. And while Rudy Giuliani has every intention of ensuring that the upper brass of corporate America remain powerful and wealthy, his personal track record threatens to throw a huge monkey wrench in the base that keeps Republicans in power. The emerging question for the party’s kingmakers (and the media they influence) is whether Giuliani can charm the South, matching phony smile with phony smile and phony promise with phony promise with favorite son Alabama actor Fred Thompson, a man who by birth is able to effortlessly replicate their twisted sensibilities.

Even in 2007, as if time had stood still, voters in the Bible belt continue to refer to abortion as the paramount issue deciding their favor. Giuliani is keenly aware that this is the possible Achilles Heel of his candidacy. He recently provided an ambiguous buffer to the question:

“In my case, I hate abortion…but ultimately, because it is an issue of conscience, I would respect a woman’s right to make a different choice.”

The pro-life voting base was not fooled by Giuliani’s rhetoric. Bruce Wilson of New America recently stated in response to that very comment “to us, it’s the equivalent of saying, ‘I hate it when someone takes another person’s life, but ultimately homicide is a matter of personal conscience and I would respect their decision.” Wilson makes a very good point. Furthermore, when it comes to seducing the family values crowd, Rudy Giuliani’s ex-wives would probably attest to the fact that loving Rudy was no easy task. Therein lies the rub. Although from a purely economic standpoint, Giuliani’s is a Republican’s knight in shining armor, his personal moral track record and position on abortion (which he most likely adopted to be elected in New York – a heavily pro-choice state) are not sitting favorably with many in the GOP and that is not likely to change, or, rather, that is not likely to change unless the party makes a committed effort to rally behind him.

There is little doubt that the top echelons of the Republican Party would prefer a “less controversial” candidate to stir up the hopes of Bible belt voters and their lobbyists. However nobody seems to be making the cut and Giuliani, despite his less than ideal resume, may slither in as the Republican nominee for President in ‘08. He may slither in because the 2008 election may not prove to be a normal election at all. How come?

Two things make the Giuliani candidacy a possible success. One is the Democrats’ demonstrated cowardice and political ineptitude, which almost guarantees that if things go on as they are now, they will succeed in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. They pretty much did that in 2004, as Kerry had for much of the campaign a commanding lead that he quickly dissipated in a series of displays of embarrassing opportunism and indecision. And then there’s the second and much uglier but nonetheless real possibility: that in the next 18 months America may be attacked again, either by Al-Qaeda, or by the US government itself in the most cynical false flag operation since the end of World War 2.

It is necessary to ask therefore, if Al Queda carries out another terror attack on American soil, who will the average American voters elect to “protect them?” The likes of Hilary Clinton or Barak Obama, who keep showing that they can’t take a firm stance against our criminally bellicose foreign policy, or New York’s “9-11 superhero”? I think the answer here should be obvious to anyone who knows how the public at large will respond, especially when properly primed by the corporate media. Many of us on the Left are not giving this variable the focus it truly deserves, and it should not be overlooked.

Unfortunately, many Americans still affix all the blame for the disasters we have experienced over the last seven years on the Bush administration. They have not yet realized that it is a class issue rather than just an issue of who happens to occupy the White House board of directors at any given time. Class is the most important issue to focus upon here, not just the current political regime. The public must learn that nearly all the apples in the barrel of the ruling elite of this nation are rotten to their very core, and that, as Chomsky suggests, if there’s a difference between the parties, it is entirely unintended and a product of the melancholy fact that with a superpower as huge as the United States, even slight differences can have enormous consequences.

Will Giuliani Make the Final Cut on American Idol?

Regardless of the abortion issue’s liability to Rudolph Giuliani’s candidacy, let’s not forget that Giuliani was Time Magazine’s 2001 “Person of the Year”. Giuliani’s reputation as the hero of 9-11 may be enough to overcome his ambivalence about abortion and endear him to the Religious Right. Some may argue that the 9-11 hero factor isn’t compelling enough to carry him to victory. However, when one factors in the hypocrisy and indecisiveness of the Democratic front-runners, it certainly levels the playing field a bit for the former Mayor of Gotham City. Besides, Giuliani is a Catholic, and certainly wouldn’t be above making backend deals to over turn Roe V. Wade if elected – I doubt this would trouble his conscience very much, particularly since he doesn’t seem to have one.

What is frightening for blue America is that Rudy Giuliani has been very open and effusive in his praise of Ronald Reagan. He sees the “Gipper’s” socioeconomic policies as the core of his vision for America, which in reality would mean little more than destroying lives in the name of privatization. Giuliani in a recent Republican debate stated,

“What we can borrow from Ronald Reagan … is that great sense of optimism.”

Giuliani is certainly not alone in his desire to grab the Reaganite mantle, but we should all be scared out of our shorts by this definition of optimism. Giuliani’s personal track record in NYC definitely proves to the homeless, street artists, immigrants, people of color, municipal workers, and other indigenous urbanites, (with the exception of the corporations and commuters) that he will take extraordinary measures to create the illusion of progress—even if these involve a destruction of civil and workers’ rights.

As Ralph Nader notes, “former Mayor Giuliani is the oligarchs’ mayor, while he bullies the powerless, he kowtows to the NY stock exchange“. By nature Giuliani is the perfect suckup kickdown.

Indeed. much like his professed idol, Ronald Reagan, Giuliani has built his career by pandering to Wall Street, and showboating to the public via radio, and television. For example, Giuliani takes credit for decreasing crime rates in New York. Yet he fails to mention that towards the end of David Dinkin’s tenure as NYC mayor crimes rates had been decreasing exponentially both locally and across the nation. What Giuliani can take credit for is terrorizing pushy squeegee men and the urban poor by making their living conditions far worse, criminalizing their existence, marginalizing their presence with “broken window” intimidation tactics such as “zero tolerance”, and kicking them off welfare by boosting “workfare.” Under his rule, workfare recipients were forced in the most brutal urban weather conditions to pick up trash to earn their welfare money. Giuliani argued that workfare “restored the dignity” of people on welfare. If welfare recipients, many of whom contend with far greater difficulties than any middle class American could imagine, missed a day of work they were unceremoniously thrown off welfare, probably winding up homeless near St. Anne’s Church in the Bronx, chemically dependent, and as a result, vulnerable to a lethal spiral of unemployment and addiction.

Real, hard-to-shake, demeaning poverty is an old and persistent epidemic that has always afflicted the most vulnerable among us: those who lack decent education, access to safe living environments, are usually in the “wrong” race or gender category, and more importantly can’t find decent jobs. It boils down to a question of access in this country. Either you manage to afford the requisite platforms that this society demands for “access” to the bounty, or you suffer the inhumanity of the “free-market”. (And even with the right credentials it’s not a certainty you will get a decent job in today’s Darwinian economy, or any job for that matter, but that’s another story.)

In essence, as it has been since its inception, the free market is only free for those who have money to pay for it, while the corporate structure is subsidized by the very same people who have limited, or no access to it. A staggering 60% of private medical research is funded by taxes, via research in US government supported facilities—NIH, university labs, etc., but those findings are then routinely turned over to private firms for “exploitation” in the market at prohibitive prices. This while many taxpayers cannot afford proper health care or essential drugs. (Big Pharma is so concerned about its vulture image that it has set up the usual solution to its “image problem”—a p.r. campaign—Partnership for Prescription Assistance fronted by TV host Montel Williams—promising free or “affordable drugs” to anyone who can’t pay the extortionate prices. At best the program promises far more than it can or is willing to deliver, help to the public not being its real object; at worst it is a complicated tegument with more hoops than anyone would like to negotiate, akin to qualifying for welfare.)

How to Beat Giuliani & his ilk:

So how do things stand? The next President of the United States of America will be Rudy Giuliani if we don’t do more to pressure the Democratic Party leadership to adopt a tough leftwing stance, as Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has been doing all along. This lofty and indispensable goal of transforming the watered down version of the GOP can be realized by demanding each Democratic candidate stop dead in their tracks, call for the impeachment of George W. Bush, and Universal Healthcare for all Americans. When I say universal health care I mean the real thing–none of this Massachusetts state-mandated smokescreen nonsense. Cindy Sheehan is already employing this extremely clever tactic as you read these words. Sheehan is threatening to run against Nancy Pelosi in California if Pelosi doesn’t put impeachment back on the table. These are the type of activist tactics we need to adopt across the boards. The left wing must follow through in direct action that casts the centrists in a negative light and endangers the only thing they respond to, a threat to their incumbency and privilege. The bottom line is we need more pressure…Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore can’t do it all by themselves. Ask yourself what the majority of the Democratic Party really represents if not the lesser of the two evils, and therefore, as a vote squandering mechanism, the biggest obstacle to a renewal of American electoral politics?

As some of you know already know, the Universal Healthcare House bill H.R. 676 would mean Medicare for all Americans and is currently being endorsed by candidate Dennis Kucinich. He also has a plan to end the war in a reasonable and immediate fashion (HR 1234) that doesn’t cater to the energy corporations – yet he is written off as unelectable because the media pay him hardly any attention and most Democrats (I’m speaking about the rank and file now) are still mesmerized by the “ABB” syndrome, which places “winning” above all other considerations. Moreover, you won’t see corporations—for good reason—throw tens of millions of dollars at him as they have with Clinton and Obama, and even Edwards. The Democratic politicians must know that we want HR 676 endorsed; it is already on the house floor. They must also know we will not accept any of this pseudo-universal healthcare, as we see in Massachusetts – sorry Dems, we aren’t fooled by state mandated-insurance, which leaves the present system intact and is still unaffordable to those most in need.

Many who argue that it is too late in the game for impeachment fail to realize that such bold action would expose the criminal Bush regime and its laundry list of crimes, thereby crippling the rightwing hopefuls and exposing Giuliani, who is currently dutifully mirroring the George W. Bush agenda. If the Democrats would actually develop a spine, and Bush were impeached, it would be more difficult for Rudy Giuliani to be victorious running on a nearly identical Reaganite/Bush platform. The only thing keeping Giuliani afloat is that the public doesn’t seem to realize that a Republican icon like Reagan does not differ in substance from George W. Bush, they just happened to occupy the Oval Office at different moments in history.

On the other side of the deliberately blurry political spectrum, the Democratic frontrunners are using the standard triangulation methods made infamous by Bill Clinton and his cabal to corner their voting demographics. Their legendary lack of principle, of course, does not render them totally blind to the developing undercurrents in the American polity.

Accordingly, they have altered some of their earlier positions, such as voting for the second Iraq spending bill of 2007, because they are responding, however reluctantly, to the outcry of the “Netroots” who say the Democrats are too soft on Bush. It is important to note here, that Clinton and Obama were some of the last to vote the correct way. The Democrats, at least, need to learn that being a leader requires you to distinguish yourself from the pack by being one, by responding to the people’s needs, and not simply implementing policies designed to co-opt what they perceive as popular demand while still by catering to those with large bank accounts.

After a long period of complicit indifference and lethargy, Americans are beginning to demand accountability from their elected representatives and as fundamentalist free-market contradictions continue to pile up, the people will increasingly demand real action, hold their feet to the fire, from our hypocritical representatives (Dennis Kucinich is naturally excluded from this roster of hardcore opportunists). Currently, all branches of the US government, from the president on down, and certainly the US Congress, enjoy “socialized” healthcare paid for by taxpayer money. I don’t see members of Congress complaining about the best care our tax money can buy. The hypocrisy is simply astounding.

If the Democrats continue on their suicidal unprincipled path, they will simply not inspire enough people to come out and vote. The outcome will likely be a victorious Rudy Giuliani (assuming he gets the nod). If you are shaking your head “no way” – see you election day when Rudy Giuliani will stand before America, and ring in another four years of policies nearly identical to the Bush White House. These people only differ in name, and in infinitesimal degrees of hypocrisy, corruption, and arrogance. Faces change alright, but the unelected plutocratic government’s policies remain on course.

Can we trust the redeeming angel?

There is always the possibility that Al Gore will swoop in for the great American popularity contest, but in the end, nothing will change unless we force these so-called leaders to change their policies. We can attempt to change their policies by demonstrating and uniting around core issues such as healthcare, writing elected officials, talking to friends and family about the issues, getting angry, and getting involved, and—most importantly—contemplating extra-electoral actions such as strikes, including vast consumer strikes (I know in a nation like America that sounds totally counterintuitive, if not loony, but we’re talking survival here).

If we fail to act in a decisive way we will reap what the criminal elites have sown – one nation, under god, and indivisible in our crimes against one another and the world. The old maxim of “United We Stand Divided We Fall” is truer than ever. The elite classes who own the lion’s share of this nation’s wealth need to know that our eyes are open this time, and that we won’t be fooled. Let’s get out there and prove it. For starters, just do an Internet search for H.R. 676 and sign up with one of many grass roots organizations supporting universal health care. Or join an organization pushing for the impeachment of Bush/Cheney or a group advocating an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. People like Giuliani can go on performing plastic smiles for the camera, but the reality we working people of America live through doesn’t match up to the so called fair and balanced truth we hear on the major news networks.

The working people of America can’t wait for Giuliani to be in power for us to take serious political action. My warning to those listening is that Mayor Giuliani is the true face of Bertram Gross’s “Friendly Fascism”, which amounts to a corporatist culture, in which the state and the corporations are fused, and work together to smother opposition, whether via legal or illegal practices. In the case of a Friendly Fascist government, or a fully matured plutocracy, it is often not necessary to display open force when writing laws inimical to the public.

For those that don’t believe Guliani is a would-be ruler in the same vein as Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, Giuliani’s communications director, Crystine Lategano, notes that Giuliani has more than a passing kinship with one of the most influential rightwing think tanks, the Manhattan Institute. As the Wiki notes, “The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research is an influential New York City-based free market think tank established in 1978…The Institute, [is] known for its advocacy of free market-based solutions to policy problems, supports and publicizes research on taxes, welfare, crime, the legal system, urban life, race, education and immigration among others.Their message is communicated through books, articles, interviews, speeches, op-ed’s and through the institute’s quarterly publication City Journal, targeted at policymakers, politicians, scholars and journalists.”

Conservatives like Giuliani are true believers in the dogma of the free-market, as are most Democrats, only the difference lies in the details. The Republicans advocate small government, to police the unruly, uncooperative, and unappreciative “leftist cranks” of America, if we are to adopt Barak Obama’s terminology for the left, but unlike their equally capitalist cousins, the Democrats pander to a broader range of socio-economic demographics. As has been noted elsewhere, they’re the “good cop” in the “bad cop, good cop” routine developed by the elites to fool the unwashed. In keeping with this vision, the Democrats are the channel for the ruling class’ (forced) concessions to the masses, the venting valve to social pressures that might otherwise tear the system asunder.

Consistent with this “kinder face” of the ruling class, the Democrats advocate that government should do more to pick up where the market falls short, although they rarely express discontent with capitalism itself (oops, sorry, “the Free Enterprise System). I suppose the laws of supply and demand are only sacrosanct when we are dealing with household appliances, and not so useful when the market—to continue to present a civilized face—needs the help of socialist programs such as Social Security, Medicare, the public library, public education, roads, and a large number of other municipal services to make society livable. Still, and despite the fact that government programs such as Medicare have been shown to be far more efficient than private setups, the establishment propaganda is unrelenting in badmouthing such options.

Meanwhile, as we continue to cut and underfund worthy programs, and misallocate (if not downright steal) public money, as we have seen in Iraq by the likes of Cheney’s Halliburton, we rarely hear a peep from politicians—including Democrats—or the corporate media about the obscene allocations to killing and destruction in the name of our sacred mythologies. The misnamed “defense budget” (how’s that for Orwellianism) is now inching up to a trillion dollars, and that figure may soon be reached and exceeded if another major “Al-Qaeda” attack materializes.

What we have here then is a continuous slide toward “crony” or “gangster” capitalism, and who better than Giuliani to run gangster capitalism, being that his father was a convicted mafia muscle man that served time in Sing Sing? We certainly don’t wish to blame by association, but it may be true that, more often than not, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Given his longstanding unregenerate opportunism Giuliani’s track record calls for legitimate suspicion.

Let Giuliani win, and 2008 could easily become George Orwell’s 1984 in full blossom. Some people believe that things have to get worse in America before they get better. The question remains how much worse are we willing to let them become before things are beyond repair? Do we need to wait for 100 million people to not have health insurance as opposed to 50? Will it take a war with Iran and possibly Venezuela for us to be fed up with self-righteous “preemptive wars” against countries our leaders cannot prove are a legitimate threat to “our way of life”? Do we need more infringement on our civil liberties by the Patriot Act? (Another truly Orwellian term in itself). Would it require energy corporations to damage the ozone layer further to really heat things up for the public? How much will we stand before we take a stand, and demand the same from our out of touch elected officials? If they cannot serve the needs of the people, than they are no longer any use to the people. The middle classes, who serve as a buffer to the wealthy, are beginning to feel the systemic burn and are starting to wake up in small numbers. However, the public needs to realize that our problems are not a mere question of White House personnel. At bottom, our interests as a nation do not, cannot, and will never coincide with that of the corporate class. It’s a systemic issue. In the words of Martin Luther King, “maybe it’s time we move towards a Democratic Socialism.” If so, maybe Giuliani, should he be the winner in 08, will be the last step toward the implantation of barbarism with a “human face.” Or the final wake-up call to turn the tide.

h/t: Thomas Paine’s Corner