Roundup: Rudy vs. Hillary (almost)

In a pair of stories today, the Monitor's Joelle Farrell and Sarah Liebowitz look back at the 2000 U.S. Senate race in New York, when Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton were headed for a showdown until Giuliani announced he had cancer and withdrew from the race.

In the New York Times, David Brooks recalls Giuliani, circa 1996, when the mayor gave speeches critical of the anti-immigration movement:

These speeches are the real Rudy. . . . This is why Giuliani won 43 percent of the Hispanic vote in the mayoral race of 1997. This is why his candidacy once had the potential to renovate the G.O.P.

Of course it hasn’t turned out that way. At the moment, Giuliani and fellow moderate Mitt Romney are attacking each other for being insufficiently Tancredo-esque. They are not renouncing the policies they championed as city and state officials, but the emphasis as they run for federal office is all in the other direction. In effect, they are competing to drive away Hispanic votes and make the party unelectable in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Florida and the nation at large.

A Union Leader editorial applauds Barack Obama for speaking honestly about past drug use to students in Manchester, saying Romney was wrong to criticize Obama's remarks. (Giuliani praised Obama's candor.) The UL did not take so kindly to the policy part of Obama's speech.

A recent interview with Shelby Steele previews an upcoming book in which Steele argues Obama is inextricably caught between the Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton agenda and the need to appeal to white voters:

He's got to keep on pleasing white folks without offending black folks, and vice versa. But the national black leadership is grounded in challenging. They do the opposite of bargaining. They rub racism in the face of whites. This is what they really mean when they say about Obama, "Are you really black?" What they mean is, "Are you a challenger?" But if he does that, he loses with whites.

He's bound between these two forces - challenging and bargaining. And that's a high-wire act. How in God's name do you pull that off if you have to shake down whites and also make them comfortable? He's in a tough spot, and it makes him stay away from strong policy positions, not just on race issues. It has prevented him from evolving deep and profound convictions. No one really knows what the man really believes, I think least of all himself.

And in the Los Angeles Times, Joel Stein sits down with Tom Tancredo . . . over Mexican food:

I watched him talk to rabid anti-immigrant groups for two days, and he never spoke with anger, just sadness that something he loves is being lost. Tancredo may be a reactionary, a xenophobe and a nationalist, but he isn't a racist.

UPDATE: Michael Kinsley weighs in on some of the recent Clinton/Obama jabbing and gives them each a point. First he says being first lady certainly counts as relevant experience for a presidential candidate:

It's like an eight-year "Take Your Daughter to Work Day." Laura Bush, as far as we know, has made no important policy decisions during her husband's presidency, but she has witnessed many and must have a better understanding of how the presidency works than all but half a dozen people in the world. One of those half a dozen is Hillary Clinton, who saw it all -- well, she apparently missed one key moment -- and shared in all the big decisions. Every first lady is promoted as her husband's key adviser, closest confidant, blah, blah, blah, but in the case of the Clintons, it seems to be true.

Then he says spending four years growing up in Indonesia certainly counts, too: "Obama's upbringing would serve us well if he were president, both in the understanding he would bring to issues of America's role in the world . . . and in terms of how the world views America."

For now, Kinsley leans to Obama:

When I hear him discussing issues, I hear intelligence and reflection and almost a joy in thinking it through. (Okay, not all issues. He obviously gets no joy over driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.) That willingness, even eagerness, to figure things out seems to me more valuable than any amount of experience in allowing issues to wash over you as they do our incumbent president.