To the best of my knowledge none of the leading presidential candidates is an opera buff, save Rudy Giuliani. This raises the related point that none of our aspirants for High Office is anywhere near as operatic as the former Mayor of New York. Say what you will about him, but Giuliani is never boring.
Of course, when running for President of the United States, boring is good. Boring means that you did not have the New York Press core discussing “other women” outside of your marriage for half a decade. Boring means you don’t have fabulous gay friends. Boring means you didn’t appear on Saturday Night Live and refer to yourself as “freakin’ Giuliani” while made to look like the most perfect approximation of a dimwit in the history of stagecraft. Boring means you and one-time chum Senator Alfonse D’Amato never went out to score drugs in an undercover sting operation. Boring means you didn’t have Yasser Arafat and his entire entourage tossed out of Lincoln Center—where the Metropolitan Opera performs no less!
These are the things that make Mr. Giuliani exceptionally interesting to those of us for whom “politics is theater, albeit with grave implications.” Yet these are precisely the things, so goes the logic, which will fatally doom his candidacy among “values voters.” For it has long been assumed that White Evangelicals and Traditional Catholics–the sinew of the Religious Right–will under no circumstances support such an interesting candidate. Further, it seems an absolute certainty that they will never support a candidate–boring or interesting, no difference– committed to a woman’s right to choose.
And then, from offstage, the chorus taunts us with statistics that flummox all of us in the Faith and Values Industry. Last month’s Pew Survey indicated that 49% of White Republican Catholics said there was a “good chance” they would vote for him. Among White Evangelical Protestant Republicans, 32% gave the same answer, giving Giuliani a 12-point edge over (the unannounced) Fred Thompson in second-place.
It is as this point that a pundit’s face contorts to assume the shape of a question mark. In Monday’s column I will advance my own counter-intuitive theory to explain his present popularity among these groups and other so-called values voters. I so doing, I hope to call attention to something that many of us who study religion and politics have not thought about carefully enough.
By Jacques Berlinerblau |
July 20, 2007; 4:12 PM ET
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