Sunday, May 27, 2007


I had been hoping to make an attempt at a Memorial Day-related post that combines wit, wisdom, and diplomacy. Well … that went out the window when my temperature yesterday hit 101.7. I’m afraid that I can manage diplomacy, perhaps, but little wisdom and certainly no wit.

So let me just say, briefly, that I may have been an impassioned opponent of this war from the moment Fox News first orgasmed at the prospects of blowing the Iraqis back to the Stone Age in March 2003. I was sitting in my living room, pleading to see the face of a war critic who was permitted to speak out … and finding nobody to interrupt the flow of “embedded” reporters and other enthusiastic war hawks. And what I was thinking way back then, what I still often think about, was that the fundamental issue was not “what will be the consequences of the war?” but “do we even have a right to be there?”

All that said, today is indeed a day that all of us should take seriously -- doves as well as hawks. The GIs whom we have lost in this war remain, in my eyes, as heroic as those who have died in more revered and Hollywood-friendly combat such as that which took place in Normandy.

All of our veterans signed up to protect a society that can aptly be called the world’s oldest, continuing democracy on a grand scale. They signed up knowing that their job wasn’t to ask questions but to put themselves in harms way, and they did it not only for themselves but for us. Sure, they might have eyed a business career emerging down the road from the expertise they gathered. But they DEFINITELY understood that they might never live long enough to have that career. They also understood that without their courage, our descendents might never know the value of such concepts as “the right of free speech” “checks and balances” or the “separation of church and state.”

Our Iraqi vets gave up their lives by the thousands and we, no matter what we think of the war, owe them a huge debt of thanks. Politicians who talk about their having died “for nothing” may have had their heart in the right place, but their brains were elsewhere. These soldiers died for the principle that it is of infinite value for any large country, including any great democracy, to ask for volunteers who will serve with valor at any time that our Government believes that a war is in the national interest. Once we encourage soldiers to pick and choose which of our wars to fight in, and once we look with pity and disgust at the lives of those lost in fighting to protect our liberties and our way of life, that’s when we’ll know that our love of peace has been taken too far. That’s when we’ll know that we, no less than our enemies, have become blinded by our ideology.

In short, don’t pity heroes. Emulate them.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


It was a bad week for one of the two politicians from my law school class, but a good week for the other. On the negative side of the ledger we have the politician with what they call “name recognition.” Some know him as the most effective government regulator of our time; others as the sitting Governor of New York. I know him simply as the latest idiot who endorsed Hillary Clinton for President.

OK, OK. Cheap shot. I admit it. The fact is that I have a ton of respect for Elliot Spitzer. First of all, his wife’s great. She also went to law school with us and was surely one of the most impressive women, in all respects, on campus. Secondly, when he was Attorney General of New York, Spitzer seemed to get an incredible amount of results in reining in corporate malfeasance. Some called him a showboater, but I suspect that was based on jealousy. The guy got the job done over and over again and managed to handle himself with dignity in the process.

I can’t say I’ve followed his career as Governor quite as closely as his regulatory career, but I was thrilled when he honored his campaign promise to support gay marriage. Apparently, he has no Presidential ambitions, which is usually a good thing for a politician.

So, what’s a nice boy like that doing endorsing a woman like Hillary? Can we attribute it to the fact that they’re both New Yorkers? Ah, well, she’s not really a New Yorker. And even if she were, so what? With other more charismatic, more honest and equally capable candidates around, her place of residence should hardly be enough to earn his support.

Do you think Spitzer likes her vote in favor of a law banning flag burning? Or her support for the war in Iraq? Or her refusal to apologize for that vote? Or her shameless excuse that others hoodwinked her about our military intelligence? Or her ability to polarize the nation like no other politician today (save those in the Administration)?

I know. Maybe he just thinks it would be really cool for our democracy to see the same two families control the White House for forty or fifty years. What do you think – Chelsea in ‘16! Jenna in ’24! Jeb Jr. in ’32! Irving Lewinsky-Clinton in ’40! Is that what you want, Elliot?

Let’s face it, Governor, you’re no Steve Novick. Loyal readers of this blog should recognize that name, though it’s not exactly widely known. Hopefully, this soon will change.

Roughly one month ago, Novick declared himself a candidate for the seat in the United States Senate currently held by Oregon Republican Gordon Smith. Smith is one of those blue state Republicans whose raison d’etre appears to be to make sure the Congress can never enact progressive legislation. How a state like Oregon keeps electing a guy like this is beyond me. Presumably, he promises to bring home the bacon and not make waves, and in a society where most people have become cynical about the potential of an active government, maybe he has indeed found the winning formula.

Maybe. Then again, maybe the Soporific Mr. Smith has just met his Waterloo.

Given the vulnerability of the GOP in ’08, it has been widely rumored that Smith’s seat is vulnerable. And yet, in the past couple of weeks, one potential challenger after another has dropped by the wayside. We already knew that the Democratic Governor of Oregon has said that he wouldn’t run. But what we didn’t know is that every single Oregon Democrat in the U.S. Congress would pull out of the race as well. So that leaves only one challenger of note: Mr. Novick.

Who exactly is he? You can read a bit about him in the following link. That’s an article Novick wrote about Gordon Smith back before Novick threw his hat in the ring. Read it and you’ll see what prompted Novick to challenge Smith, but you’ll also learn a few salient facts about the challenger.

Please allow me to summarize in my own way precisely what Novick brings to the table:

(1) He’s 44 years of age.

(2) He comes from a relatively poor family. I don't mean poor for a politician (that's another word for upper middle-class); I mean poor compared to most of us.

(3) Because he’s so committed to working for the public interest, he’s not taken the many opportunities he's had to feather his own nest. This man, in short, is the Platonic Form of the non sell out.

(4) He's a policy wonk’s policy wonk. He can rattle off facts and figures about economics and politics the way Paris Hilton could talk about shoes or Mel Gibson about Jews.

(5) He isn’t interested in hearing himself talk; he’s impassioned about specific causes. Above all else, he fights like a Banshee for the economic interests of the average worker. He’s also a fervent environmentalist. And needless to say, whereas Gordon Smith was supporting the adventure in Iraq for years, Novick was a critic from the start.

(6) That said, Novick is not a knee jerk liberal. I have often been struck by the independence of his positions. Apparently, he thinks the issues through and listens to his own counsel, rather than following the political winds.

(7) He started law school at age 18, having skipped high school altogether. You see, where he lived in Cottage Grove, Oregon, the high school was closed for a while, so he had no choice but go straight on to college at age 14.

(8) At Harvard Law School, he was four or five years younger than most of our classmates but significantly more articulate and intelligent. Despite being outspoken, he had no enemies there and plenty of fans.

(9) He is 4’ 8” and has a metallic hook for a left arm. In fact, his own website touts himself as “the fighter with the hard left hook.” But unlike many others who style themselves “fighters,” his personality is not pugnacious. To know him is to understand that he is a kind and generous person – and would, no doubt, be warmer to his “enemies” than many politicians are to their friends.

(10) He was a successful litigator for the U.S. Department of Justice, having served as lead counsel in the Love Canal case that netted the government more than $100 million.

(11) He has worked for a number of political campaigns and has been active in fights centered on specific legislative initiatives.

(12) Until now, he has been known not as a professional “politician,” but rather as an “activist.” That’s another word for someone who fights political battles because they actually care, rather than because of their nice hair (see, e.g., Gordon Smith) and “electability.”

(13) He is plainspoken, has a great sense of humor, and directs his funniest barbs at himself.

(14) He is not the reincarnation of Paul Wellstone. We know that because there was a time when both men were alive. But he is the closest thing this species has to a living Paul Wellstone.

So, are you intrigued? If you’re not, either I’ve failed miserably in explaining what sets this guy apart or you must lack a pulse. Honestly, the real reason Novick must win has nothing to do with the Soporific Mr. Smith. Even if Oregon didn’t have an empty suit for a Senator, it would still have to find a place in D.C. for Steve Novick.

We desperately need men and women like Novick to come to Washington, bring their affability and sense of humor, and then speak the truth first and read the polls later. Perhaps it is precisely because of his disabilities that Novick is allowed to say what he’s really thinking without worrying about petty schmucks coming down on him swiftly and mercilessly. Just Google “Steve Novick + Senate” and read what’s being said about him in the blogs. Oh, you’ll find the occasional snipe (“He looks like a villain in a Mike Myers movie” is my personal favorite, and one that would surely get a laugh from Novick himself), but for the most part, the Oregonians seem to be warming up to the man pretty well. I think they recognize that if ever there were someone who represents what Oregon is supposed to stand for – down-to-earth, fun-loving, independent, environmentally-conscious – that person is Steve Novick.

But enough about Novick. Let’s talk about you. Are you prepared to read about this guy? You obviously have a computer, that’s the place to start. There are all sorts of info on the web about him. And surely, even if you don’t live in the great state of Oregon, you must know people who do. Spread the word, my friends. Don’t sit on the sidelines lamenting all the problems in the world. Bring Steve Novick to Washington! Make it happen. Then watch as he tells truth to power. Who knows, if he can win and if, perchance, there are other Novick’s out there in the country (perhaps a 7 footer who started Yale Law School at age 17), maybe we can actually regain some faith in our Government.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve been thinking a fair amount about dogs lately. I live in a house that is often dominated by them, especially when one of them wakes everyone up in the morning when it needs to go out. But lately, I haven’t just been thinking about my own two Bichons. My thoughts have turned to other breeds. Like Poodles. And Pit Bulls.

First things first, though. To me, there is only one breed. I really don’t know if we’ll get more dogs when our current ones die, but this much is certain -- if we do, they’ll be Bichons. For those of you who don’t know the breed, “Bichon” is short for “Bichon Frise,” which means “curly haired lap dog” in French. The breed didn’t originate in France but is best known for having been there at the time of the Revolution. Before the storming of the Bastille, they were associated with places like Versailles, and their “job” was to jump up on the laps of royalty and simply look cute. In other words, they were much like the aristocrats who cared for them, only their hearts were doubtlessly purer and their thoughts less petty.

After the Revolution, the Antoinettes and the Louis’ of the country were beheaded, but the Bichons survived. They were turned out on the street, where they had to make it in such capacities as the sidekicks for organ grinders. Bichons are pretty funny when they get on their hind legs and beg – no longer the fru-fru palace dwellers, they can be as humble and salt-of-the-earth as it gets. But even when they’re begging, you can’t help but notice their one defining characteristic: they don’t have a mean bone in their bodies. In fact, their temperament is so sweet that the American Kennel Club concludes the official “standard” for the breed by describing them as follows: “Gentle mannered, sensitive, playful and affectionate. A cheerful attitude is the hallmark of the breed and one should settle for nothing less.”

Fortunately, from what I’ve been able to surmise, few Bichon owners have to settle for anything less than a perpetually loving, peaceful companion. The “dark side” of the breed doesn’t involve meanness so much as, well, incontinence. OK, so they’re probably not physically incontinent, but when it’s raining out, sometimes they prefer to take a little tinkle in the house. Charming, huh? And, if we’re being candid, while I’ve seen many, many dumber dogs than my Bichons, I get the impression that there are quite a few smarter ones too. That’s OK, though. Intelligence is overrated in dogs. You want them to be cute, you want them to be sweet, you want them to be playful, and you want them never to turn on you or your guests. In those respects, Bichons remain unsurpassed.

Oh yeah. And if you’re allergic, you want dogs that won’t destroy your sinuses. When I was first shopping for dogs, I was told that the two best breeds for allergies were Bichons and Portugese Water Dogs, but that the latter could become “dominant members of your household” and sometimes get violent. It thus shouldn’t be surprising that I bought a Bichon. We liked him so much that we got another. They’ve been loyal ever since – at least when it’s not raining – so now, I want to repay that loyalty. If there are to be any more dogs around here, they will have to be the most benign of beasts. They will have to be Bichons.

I’d like to say that Bichons and Portguese Water Dogs were the only breeds we seriously considered bringing into the house, but that would be false. There was a point where I got caught up in the hype about doggie intelligence, and that led me to the Einsteins of canines. No, not the border collies; they’re just nerds – always obeying what their masters say – whose “doggie IQs” are vastly overrated. I’m talking about the Poodle.

“Wickedly smaht,” as they say in Beantown, Poodles are also known for their loyalty to their masters, though they can be rather mean to strangers and man do they come across as narcissistic. Thinking back, I can’t believe I really thought about getting one, but I can’t hide from the truth. Their brainiac ways enticed me to the point where I traveled down to Central Virginia to visit a woman who bred Standard Poodles. My main concern was their dander, so I buried my snout in the fur of one of the dogs to see how I’d do. Thankfully, nobody said anything, but my fear was that the breeder would politely request that I please get my snot off her dog. I was pretty embarrassed.

Yes, I know, Poodles are supposed to be good for allergies. Let’s just say they weren’t good for mine.

I bring up Poodles to commemorate the exit from the world’s stage of a marvelous man-poodle named Tony Blair. Truly, he’s been a shining example of the breed. His intelligence is palpable to anyone who’s heard him speak. I mean the way he sold that Iraq War, it almost made you believe in the war’s sanity. Almost. And he has always seemed so proud, so self-confident, that you can practically picture him, perfectly coiffed, strutting around the ring at Westminster having no doubt in his mind that he’s about to be named Best in Group for the Non-Sporting category.

It’s ironic that the Man-Poodle is a Non-Sporting breed because Blair is anything but non-sporting. He and his fellow English aristocrats have always enjoyed a challenging romp in the wilds. And in the finest tradition of the fox hunt, he has repeatedly advocated sending his own trusted minions to fight halfway across the world against treacherous predators. This predilection culminated, as we all know now, in a country where his minions had hardly a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the game. Tony is surely smart enough to have known that all along. He’s just one heck of a gutsy sportsman.

Of course, Tony, being a man-poodle, was also too intelligent to tell us all about the length of our odds, not to mention the pitiful rationale for the fox-hunt. He just loved the sport – the challenge – and so he unleashed the dogs of war, so to speak. Tony gets a bad rap for being labeled a lap dog of President Bush. He’s been advocating overseas adventures since well before Bush came to Washington. You see, he’s a man-poodle who’s obsessed with the war of good against evil, and whenever he sees evil in the world, he can’t help but personally fight to eradicate it … or at least to send other people’s children to do the job.

Blair has never admitted he was wrong in Iraq. And really, how could he? A man-poodle is a proud breed, a regal breed. He can’t admit to a mistake. It would go against his self image as a “breed above.” Tony is smarter than the rest of us, he’s more moral than the rest of us, he’s more commendably resolute than the rest of us, and when it rains – and it does that a lot in England – he never tinkles on the carpet. So what if he has helped opened up the Pandora’s Box of international anarchy and wasted the better part of a trillion dollars. He’s looked good, he’s sounded articulate, and he’s reassured us all that even in the most trying of situations, Poodles – especially Standard Poodles – will always stand tall.

Anyone who knows dogs can tell you that, while Bichons might make the world’s worst watchdogs (unless you’d like your burglars to be licked when they break into your house), Standard Poodles are actually pretty decent ones. The shame is that, due to the way they’re coiffed in dog shows, “real men” don’t appreciate Standards as “real dogs.” If you’re traveling to a Red State and want to show off your dog, there are only a few breeds available to you. One of those breeds is most certainly the Pit Bull.

Pit Bulls are in the news these days, and not just because they’re up to their usual kid-mauling tricks. This time, ironically, the Pit Bulls are the victims. Allegedly … let me say that again … allegedly, they were being raised in large numbers at a home owned by the Atlanta Falcons’ star quarterback, Michael Vick, for the purpose of being entered in dog fights. Let me take that back. I think it’s pretty well accepted that they were being raised at one of Vick’s homes so that they could participate in dog fights. What’s disputed is whether Vick personally had any knowledge of that fact. A Web site exists for “Mike Vick K-9 Kennels” which references the Vick house that was raided by the police. And people who know Vick have told CNN and ESPN that they can’t help but believe that he was aware of his house’s role in dog fighting. But I won’t draw any firm conclusions about his guilt or innocence until we get more facts. What I can say is that someone here is guilty. Consider the following description of the scene at the Vick house published by an outlet called the Associated Content:

“According to reports, police found more than 70 dogs on the property, many of them scarred, injured, malnourished, and appeared abused, either by neglect or other means. ‘Some had significant scarring,’ said Kathy Strouse from Chesapeake Animal Control. ‘Some had wounds. Some had eye problems.’ In addition, police discovered what is known as a ‘rape stand,’ where a female dog may be tethered in order to give male dogs access to her in order to facilitate breeding. According to animal control officers, [the] bust was one of the largest dog fighting instances they've seen.”

Reportedly, a Web site for an Atlanta-area breeder, Sanders Kennels, displays Vick himself holding a Presa Canario puppy, an animal that supposedly is "bred for loyalty, protection, guarding, and peace of mind. They can and will protect.'' Indeed. Well, as a lover of dogs – maybe not man-poodles, but at least dogs – let me say that I am just as loyal to my pet’s species as most dogs are to their masters. And because of that loyalty, I certainly hope that the investigators devote the resources needed to identify each and every person who made it possible to raise and torture the 70 dogs who were found at the Vick house. If Michael Vick is one of those people, he should be banned for life from the NFL. Heck, whoever is involved in illegal dog-fighting (and there should be no dog fighting that isn’t illegal) deserves to do hard time, where they can cuddle up with the kind of guys Vick has to evade for a living. I’m not talking about safeties and corners; I’m talking defensive linemen and linebackers.

Of course, that’s just my view. Dog fighting is still merely a misdemeanor in Idaho and Wyoming. So maybe the idea of torturing “man’s best friend” isn’t as big a deal as I thought. No, that can’t be right. Maybe some of the folks in the reddest of red America are just off their stupid, macho rockers. Even a man-poodle like Tony Blair could tell you that.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


I’m feeling especially out of touch this morning because I watched both Presidential debates and, apparently, what I saw and what the talking heads saw were two different things. After the Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton was hailed for her performance. Her demeanor was just fine, they said – not shrill, as you might have expected. As for the GOP, we were told that the loser among the top tier was Hillary’s fellow front-runner: Rudy Giuliani. Rudy, say the talking heads, “stumbled” in answering a question about abortion, and looked like “a deer facing headlights” in responding to another question about the differences between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites.

So score one for the “liberal” New Yorker and against the “conservative.” Right? Not if I’m doing the scoring.

Before I explain why the debate further cemented my opposition to Hillary Clinton, let me preface my comments by pointing out that I’m not one of these anti-Clinton conspiracy theorists. Whitewater doesn’t interest me. Nor do I blame Hillary for the death of Vince Foster or anyone else. In fact, I respect her intellect, knowledge of policy, passion for governing, and ability to get things done on the Hill. If I lived in her state and she were running for Senate, I might even vote for her.

But just because you can play defensive line doesn’t make you a good quarterback. And just because you’re an effective Senator (most of the time), doesn’t mean you could get the job done as President. Hillary, I’m more convinced than ever, most certainly cannot.

To me, the defining moments in the Democratic debate were the comments by the top-tier candidates regarding their original positions on Iraq. First, you have Obama. His point was simply stated: he opposed the war from the start. Does he score points for that? Mega points. Second, you have Edwards. Did he oppose the war? No. So he doesn’t get mega points. But he admitted that his instincts were to oppose it, and he simply didn’t listen to them. Edwards stopped short of calling himself a wimp, but he might as well have. He apologized, owned responsibility for the problem, and blamed no else but himself for his vote. For that, he might not merit points, but nor does he merit scorn.

That leads me to the Democratic front runner. Hillary addressed the issue without a hint of noticeable remorse. She apologized – in a manner of speaking – but her regret was in trusting President Bush and his people not to take us into the war precipitously. Her mistake, in other words, wasn’t one of not relying on her own instincts, let alone in showing cowardice; rather, she was simply too trusting of the Administration. They’re the ones responsible for our problems in Iraq, not her.

Now, maybe the talking heads weren’t offended by that exhibition, but I was. It’s one thing for Hillary Clinton to blame the White House for her vote to authorize the war back in 2002. But once the Administration went in and found no WMDs, did she speak out against the conflict? Personally, I marched against the war at the same time that the media claimed we were “winning” it. Strangely, though, I didn’t see Hillary at those marches. Apparently, she was still being hoodwinked by the Administration.

Here’s what Hillary said to NPR’s Juan Williams in June 2003 – three months after the war began in Iraq -- when it was clear that the WMDs did not exist:

“I think that from my perspective, the vote I made, which was a very difficult vote, was based on my assessment of the evidence presented to me. In my mind, the jury is still out as to whether or not that evidence merited my vote or anyone else's ... But I knew from my husband's administration that he certainly received the same kind of intelligence reports -- that here was a man who was intent, obsessed with having weapons of mass destruction. So I'm not ready to say either that the intelligence was wrong or that the intelligence was selectively applied and skewed for a certain result.”

Leadership? Courage?

Here’s the reality: if Hillary is on your side, she can be an effective advocate. But if she’s not, she’ll fight you tooth and nail, and she’ll never admit to a mistake unless she has backed into the tightest possible corner. You’d think she would have found that corner with respect to Iraq, but apparently not. She can still (over)play the “blame the Republicans” card, just as she did when her husband was besieged with the Lewinsky scandal. In that matter, blame could be laid on every doorstep – including Bill Clinton’s. The same applies here. But Hillary can’t bring herself to blame herself other than to say that she was too trusting, the poor girl.

Folks, she had access to the intelligence! She claimed to have assessed it herself, remember? She then saw the results on the ground. But while we were marching, political expediency prevented her from speaking out against the war until it became crystal clear that she couldn’t continue to support it and receive her party’s nomination. Is this someone we should trust to make decisions on future wars?

And the issue here isn’t simply one of national defense. Let’s say that her political machine is powerful enough to put her in the White House. I doubt it will happen, but let’s say it did. Do you possibly think for a second that she would be able to rally the nation behind any important cause? Do you possibly think that conservative Americans and right-leaning independents will warm up to her and join her in an effort to combat poverty or global warming, or to provide universal health care coverage? George W. Bush campaigned for President in 2000 saying that he will be a “uniter, not a divider,” and in fact he served that way as Governor of Texas. Well, we’ve seen what happens when a President is unable to unite more than his core constituency, and we’d see it again if Hillary takes the reigns.

So, if you like gridlock, vote for Hillary. If you don’t, you might want to look at other candidates whose negatives aren’t quite as high as hers. It’s no wonder the GOP is so desperate for her to win the nomination. If she loses the election, the Republicans keep the White House. And if she wins the election, the Government won’t be able to push through any major, progressive initiatives. Talk about a win-win for the GOP.

If not Hillary, who? You know my answer: the man who is known for his intellect, charisma, multi-cultural background, positive approach to politics, and ability to tap into both progressive and spiritual traditions.

No, I’m not alluding to Rudy Giuliani. But I have to say, while all the talking heads were criticizing Rudy’s performance this week, I was actually somewhat impressed. Stylistically, Rudy was obviously not on his game. Nobody could deny that. And yet there’s more to a performance than style. Every now and then, we should consider substance.

Mitt Romney, the man who is most closely competing with Rudy for GOP fundraising dollars, pointed out the traditional way to earn the GOP nomination. A former Governor of Massachusetts, Romney gathered his experience by being a pro-choice politician. But now that he’s running to be the leader of the conservative party of the entire US of A, he could ill afford to be anything but pro-life. Like Reagan before him, he said, he has done a complete 180 on the topic. The new Mitt is pro-life and proud of it! From the looks of the guy, the issue didn’t give him any sleepless nights either. He simply saw the light. Praise Jesus. Praise God.

Well, that was Mitt’s approach. Opportunistic, wouldn’t you say? Rudy chose another path. He’d be OK, he said, with the Supreme Court repealing Roe v. Wade and also OK if the Court upheld that decision. The talking-heads couldn’t believe what a lousy, unprepared answer he gave. Doesn’t he know that Presidents need to be decisive?

Well, I think he does. He sure seemed to know that when the topic involved the war against terrorism. Funny, though, but abortion is different. It’s not an issue that merits decisiveness so much as compassion. I think Rudy gets that.

This is what he said that mattered most to me: First, that when he was Mayor of New York, abortions were legal but they dropped substantially in number. Funny, but crime took a nosedive as well. So did poverty. Facts are facts: Rudy doesn’t just talk about the need to help the poor, he’s actually done something about it. Second, it was pretty clear during that debate that Rudy still respects a woman’s right to choose. He might oppose abortion personally, but at a time and place where it would have been expedient to take a little gel to his hair and flip flop (like Romney), he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.

Now, my fellow progressives, you can lambaste the guy all you want for not proudly proclaiming his pro-choice stance, but what he did was as close as you could get to doing so without committing political hari-kari. He risked coming across like an angst-ridden boob – the antithesis of presidential – when he refused to join with all the other GOP candidates and line up for life. Why? Because he almost certainly believes that a woman does have a right to choose. That signal was sent loudly and clearly to any open-minded progressive who has two functioning ears, just as it was sent equally clearly to Republicans. And the result, in the short run, will be less money for Rudy and more for Mr. Hair Gel and that ol’ war horse, John “Pro Life from the Start” McCain.

Can Rudy win the GOP nomination? You bet. But he probably has only one shot. He’ll need Hillary to get the Democratic nod. If the GOP knows they’re going up against her, they’ll be motivated to fight her with the same ruthlessness that she fights them. And they’ll find the candidate most likely to appeal to the center. That candidate, as the GOP debate illustrates, is Rudy Giuliani.