The anti-IOKIYAR Right

GiulianiSpeechThomas B. Edsall wrote Thursday on The Huffington Post about how some Republicans are working to persuade others that IOKIYAR (for “It’s OK If You’re a Republican”) should not apply to Rudy Giuliani.

Edsall writes that the two primary anti-Giuliani groups are The Conservative Declaration of Independence and Fidelis, both based in Michigan. He also mentions blogger Steve Dillard of Southern Appeal, who is working on a Catholics Against Rudy website. (Evangelicals for Mitt already exists, of course. Will we eventually see Catholics and Evangelicals Together Against Mitt and Rudy?)

Edsall strikes a tone of skepticism about the tactics and motives of The Conservative Declaration and Fidelis:

The early success of Rudy Giuliani’s presidential bid has provoked a groundswell of opposition from disparate forces including conservative Catholics, remnants of Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaigns and regional political operatives seeking to break into the Republican firmament.

The opposition is united in its determination to block Giuliani, a supporter of abortion rights and gay rights, from becoming the GOP’s standard bearer. But lurking just beneath the surface is another motive for these anti-Giuliani conservatives: cash. The groups hope to benefit from a large constituency of donors willing to write big checks to bring down the former New York City mayor. The donors include backers of Giuliani’s competitors as well as ideologues of the right.

The story has not yet received attention from a major media outlet, but Shir Haberman of the Portsmouth Herald has covered it.

On a related note, longtime conservative activist Grover Norquist tells Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone that early polling suggests the Religious Right does not dominate the GOP after all:

You can make the argument that some candidates would be more enthusiastic about going further on the social conservative agenda, and some may well excite the leadership of the social conservative movement, but I don’t believe that it moves votes. Take a look at how McCain and Giuliani and Romney are polling. Who are the three top guys? Pat Robertson sees two pagans and a Mormon. Everybody’s heard that Giuliani dressed up in drag. If my analysis was wrong, would he be polling as well as he is? Romney is a Mormon, which evangelicals see as theologically flawed, and McCain picked a public fight in 2000 with Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Those are the three Republicans polling the best!

If 40 percent of the GOP base truly had Dobson’s 20 point test then a candidate such as Huckabee should be one of the frontrunners. He’s not, and that’s why I think my analysis is the correct one. The press is going to want to talk about and solicit quotations from self-appointed leaders about how unacceptable certain of these candidates are. I don’t think that translates. You have to convince people that one of these candidates would work actively against their privacy zone on faith and childrearing. And I’m not sure that anyone of them is going to fail that test.

Clearly the voting in early primaries will matter more than any poll, but Norquist makes a good argument.

Edsall compares the anti-Giuliani groups to the Swift Vets. That feels too dismissive. What bears watching is whether social conservatives will push more for the candidate they support than against the candidates they believe are bad for the party or the nation. What’s clear, at least from Edsall’s work, is that if IOKIYAR prevails in the end, it will not do so without resistance from some quarters of the Republican Party. For now, they’re being written off (at least by Edsall) as well-funded ideologues. But, then, that criticism could apply to any political partisan.

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  • Jeff Miller

    Steven Dilliard was of Southern Appeal, not Southern Exposure.

  • Martha

    That’s nice to know, Thomas: if I’m an orthodox Catholic who would not vote for Rudy based on his support for abortion, I’m opposed to him purely for the big $$$$$ I’ll pull down from some anonymous “large constituency of donors”.

    Will they also treat me to a chicken dinner while they’re at it?

    (I do, of course, realise that money plays a part in political campaigns, but how likely would we be to see a story beginning “Giuliani is hoping to appeal to a wider constituency with his expressions of support for abortion and gay rights, but lurking just beneath the surface is another motive: the big cheques he hopes organisations such as Planned Parenthood will write to prop up his campaign”?)

  • Jerry

    All politicians, left or right, who are serious candidates for office and not extremely rich have that same motive. Some have areas of principle, to be sure, but the joke “an honest politician is one who stays bought” is also partly true sadly enough. Trying to change the system to avoid pandering for dollars is hard. There are groups around who track voting records against campaign contributions and, to no surprise, there’s a correlation.

  • Douglas LeBlanc

    Thanks for the correction, Jeff. Southern Exposure burned itself into my brain when I worked at a daily newspaper and our newsroom library had a subscription. I’ll fix the reference.

  • Larry “Grumpy” Rasczak

    Martha, as usual, makes a very intelligent point. There are plenty of pro-Life voters who won’t support Rudy, in good conscience can’t support Rudy, but won’t see an extra dime in their pockets because of it.

    The line about “The groups hope to benefit from a large constituency of donors willing to write big checks to bring down the former New York City mayor.” is I believe exceptionally praseworthy though.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Martha is right on target in her complaint about this line. (Would HuffPo ever write such a line about the oh so principled and intelligent Progressives of the Left who’s only motives for ever doing ANYTHING is the self-sacrificing goodness of their own morally superior bleeding hearts?)

    That being said, I think the money angle is something that is not getting enough attention in politics. No, not from the campaign finance reform perspective, or the “oh the poor Congresscritters don’t have enough time to govern, what with all the fundraising they have to do” angle either. Those stories are done ad nauseum.

    I think it is a GREAT line because the election is still over a year away, it is many months before Iowa or New Hampshire, and yet the political consultants and professional staffers have somehow managed to solve that problem of “how do I get paid in the off years?” by driving the Campaign Cycle to the point it is ALWAYS on, and there IS no such thing as an off year. I’m genuinely happy Mr. Edsall has noticed this, and noticed the motivation behind it.

    The consultants, direct mail experts, pollsters, media buyers, etc. have all secured full and steady employment for themselves and their friends in the media. This has been a good thing for all of the above, but I’m deeply concerned about the ethics involved. With lawyers it’s called solicitation, with doctors it is unnecessairy surgery, with political consultants its “Early Money Is Like Yeast”.

    The jury is still out on if this will be a good thing for the candidates these consultants work for, and it is certianly still out on if it is a good thing for the American political system. How much good did winning the Republican Womens Non-binding Straw Poll do Phil Grahm in 1995? How did it help Dole that, in spending so much money so early to fight Grahm he hit the cap on primary spending and had to “go dark” in the early months of the actual election year?

    Personally I think that Catholics against Rudy and Evangelicals for Mitt are most likely wasting their time and their candidates money, and Mr. Edsal should be praised for noticing that the motivations involved may have more to do with political consultants fear of nasty phone calls from Mastercard than anything else.

    Personally I think there is about a 75% chance the Republican nominee will be someone who has yet to enter the race, (Thompson, Gingrich, perhaps someone else even… Tommy Franks, Colin Powell, heck if he wanted to resign General Douglas Lute (aka “the War Czar”) would be a fantastic G.O.P. candidate and a great President… have you seen his resume? Have you heard him speak? Given the right backing he could walk away with the nomination if he wanted it.)

    I’d say there is at least a 35% chance of that being true on the Democratic side as well. Look at how well Obama has done, coming out of nowhere on Hillary. Gore might pop in, some other person might, and there is always the possibility that some event outside the control of the electioneers could turn everything upside down in a minute (like a bunch of Saudi Arabians flying a hijacked airliner into the World Trade Center… or 40 Iranian kilotons going off in the middle of the Persian Desert… or 40 Iranian kilotons going off in the middle of Tel Aviv for that matter…or Castro’s death leading to a Cuban Civil War… or an armed revolt in Venezuela…heck who saw the Falkland Islands War coming?)

    It’s just to early to be talking about this, and kudos to Mr. Edsal for noticing why it is an issue at all.

  • Steve Dillard

    For the record, Catholics Against Rudy will not raising any money. It is strictly a volunteer effort by faithful Catholics at the grass-roots level.

  • Martha

    Good points, Larry (and thank you for that unsolicited testimonial!).

    My beef was with the easy linking of ‘opposition to Rudy’ = ‘getting paid to say this’. Maybe I’m hanging aroung Episcopalian blogs too much, but one charge made during The Current Unpleasantness by the reappraisers was that the reasserters were bought and paid for by shadowy ‘Right-wing concerns with big bucks’ and that was why all this opposition had suddenly appeared to the new and improved ECUSA; I remember all the conservative bloggers laughing about this and going ‘yay! I was doing this for free, but if there’s a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy out there who’ll pay me, when is my big cheque going to arrive?’

    I am perfectly sure there are organised groups out there to oppose Giuliani, some of them his party colleagues; I’m sure they will be splashing money about on campaigns; no doubt if they see a small group who will get their message out to an important niche constituency, they won’t have any problems throwing a few bob their way.

    However, that’s a different kettle of fish to saying that these small groups are not driven by principle but are instead really in it for the do-re-mi and are, in fact, only false fronts for anti-Giuliani candidates.

    (Having just gone through an election over here, how on earth do you people in the U.S. stand it? Here’s the campaigning already going on, with runners having entered and been written off already, and the thing isn’t even kicking off officially till next year!)

  • Douglas LeBlanc

    Dear Mr. Dillard,

    Thank you for pointing out that Catholics Against Rudy will not raise money.

    Thomas Edsall mentioned Catholics Against Rudy only toward the end of his piece, and though he said the group had “substantial ambition,” he did not address whether it would raise money.

    I was sloppy in writing as though Edsall was lumping Catholics Against Rudy in with The Conservative Declaration and Fidelis when he wrote about money.

    Thank you for the correction, and I’m going to adjust the post accordingly.

  • Ted Stevens

    Mr. LeBlanc,
    The central arguement in your article is false, and it makes it very clear that you did not do any fact finding prior to writing it.

    A simple phone call to Tom McMillin or Paul Nagy, the co-founders of the Conservative Declaration, would have provided you with this important piece of information:

    The Conservative Declaration of Independence has not and is not raising a single penny of financial support.

    It is grassroots movement based on ideological support of conservative principles. No money, just principle.

    Do your homework prior to writing. Falsehoods do nothing to serve the public debate.

  • Douglas LeBlanc

    Mr. Stevens,

    Thomas Edsall attributed financial motives to The Conservative Declaration, and I quoted him as doing so in his report.

    GetReligion does not re-report other people’s work, but provides media criticism.

    I apologize, however, that in writing about Thomas Edsall’s story I gave further exposure to a falsehood about the Conservative Declaration.