So Rudy Beats Hillary. Then What?

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Harold Meyerson makes a great point in his column today:

In fact, with the honorable exception of long-shot candidate Mike Huckabee, the Republican field seems content with an economic program that comes down to opposing whatever Hillary Clinton proposes. Rudy Giuliani, campaigning hard to convince the Republican base to overlook his heresies on such cultural hot buttons as abortion rights, seeks to win over the faithful by claiming the mantle of Hillary-Basher Club Champion. A tax credit for parents struggling to pay their children's college tuition? Matching funds for 401(k)s? Baby bonds? Crazy notions all, not because of their substance -- Rudy can't be bothered with their substance -- but because they were proposed by -- get this -- Hillary! The GOP crowds roar.
As a road map to governance, this is both dim and skimpy. President Giuliani, Romney, McCain or Thompson can reliably be counted on to be against whatever Clinton is for. Beyond that, if we total up their domestic and economic policy proposals, they intend to do almost nothing at all.

If I were a Republican preparing to vote for Rudy on account of all his Hillary-bashing, here's what would scare me: If, thanks to all this Hillary-bashing, Rudy actually, you know, beats Hillary, then he will have ipso facto eliminated the thing I liked most about him, which is his ability to prevent Hillary from becoming president.

Or, to put it another way, Rudy's not running to be the guy who gets to hound Hillary Clinton once she's the president. He's running to be president. If he wins, it could be a long four or eight years without any more Clintons to kick around...

(Obviously this is the problem with any negative campaign, but I've never seen one quite as focused on another candidate as this one.)

--Noam Scheiber

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