Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sanford Out, Rudy In

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 6/24/09

From the beginning it smelled like teen spirit. Just riding on the beach. Out for a hike. Like I used to tell my mother in high school. Bad for Sanford but good for Rick Perry. Most all historical movements from Christianity to the hippies to the Civil War started with one or some vastly imaginative and somewhat eccentric few who are usually quickly forgotten as soon as the tall men and the lawyers take over. Sanford may be such a one.

He was the first to speak out in opposition to the bailouts and he stood alone. Shortly after Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, joined him. What he started has converged now with an entirely new approach to government, an approach more akin to Jefferson than Hamilton which is taking hold in 35 states, including Texas, with Perry at the front of the ship. Yesterday, there might have been three people articulating these themes in the 2012 race; Sanford, Perry and Sarah Palin. Now there will likely be two; Perry and Palin.

Rick Perry is a very agreeable man. When things get said they sound better when they come from him than when they come from others, including Sanford. In that he is like Obama. Now as they head to 2012, whatever has worked its way in the creative mind of Sanford will come in the package of Perry. Unfortunate for Sanford, but this is good for conservatives, as it brings a creative new direction in an attractive new package and this is the most important new direction of politics in America today.

And don’t rule out Rudy Giuliani either. Today in an op-ed piece in The New York Times, Rudy has called for a state constitutional convention.

“New York state government is not working,” he writes. “This has been true for some time. But the paralysis and confusion that has overtaken the capital demonstrates the need to confront this dysfunction directly and take decisive steps to solve it once and for all.”

This is an extraordinary step and it takes someone with the character in personal sense of authority of Giuliani to call it. As goes California, so goes New York. These states, the most prestigious in our tradition, are falling apart before our eyes and without them, American leadership and participation in the world dwindles.

They will not be bailed out by Obama because he has his team listening to Glenn Beck and understands that Sanford’s Jeffersonian initiatives have hit such a cord in the heartland that it could drive the red states to a consortium of opposition, as it would be the productive red states where commodities come from and states running budget surpluses like Texas under Perry’s tenure that would be doing the bailing.

As Rudy points out, New York has been dying for some time. New York has not yet healed from 9/11. It has not yet metabolized maturity out of the suffering. It is still in a state of denial about all matters of responsibility and prefers to play. This particular New York state of mind might be called Lettermanism. The disgraceful commentary by Letterman last week directly pitted Letterman’s New York against Giuliani’s, as Rudy was sitting next to Governor Palin when she and her family were insulted by Letterman.

One cannot reconcile Letterman’s New York with Giuliani’s; one is responsibility and the other the ignoring of responsibility and the building of a subculture of irresponsibility and pretension as a substitute. New York City today is like London between the wars. It was tired of war, tired of responsibilities. But the responsibilities would keep coming. Eventually the leisure class at the Marlborough House would listen to Churchill. Time again for New York to listen to Rudy.