James expresses his agitation with the Robertson endorsement of Giuliani and elsewhere notes his frustration with Republican efforts at “redefinition”. I sympathise with both reactions, and I agree that it is surely a bizarre set of priorities that makes a relative handful of jihadis on the other side of the planet seem more appalling and threatening than the institutionalised denigration of human life at home. But those have been the priorities of actual Republican governance for years before there was any hint of a Giuliani candidacy.
That is the heart of the “new fusionist” bargain: social conservatives rally behind aggressive foreign policy, and interventionists pretend that this aggressive foreign policy has something to do with moral conviction that is vaguely related to the protection of life (provided that it doesn’t involve the lives of foreigners). The attempt to “re-brand” the GOP and Robertson’s emphasis on Islamic “bloodlust” as the rationalisation for embracing Giuliani are interrelated: the obsession with so-called Islamofascism (a name that misdiagnoses and misunderstands the threat it is supposed to describe) is the reason why the GOP needs significant help in rehabilitating itself in the eyes of the public, yet this is naturally the last part of their platform that the Republicans are looking to change. Therefore, instead of changing anything substantive, the Republican leadership turns to remaking its “image.”
Gerlach and Castle, the two House members quoted in the Politico article, are not in electoral trouble because of excessive fiscal austerity and promises to eliminate the Department of Education, or indeed over any particular domestic policy difficulty. Obviously, their electoral woes (Gerlach ran a very competitive race last year in what was otherwise a GOP bloodbath in Pennsylvania) are tied closely to the war in Iraq and the interventionist adventurism that characterises “mainstream” GOP foreign policy nowadays. This is the one unifying, unquestionable thing on which everyone is supposed to agree, and it is the one thing that is pure electoral poison. Strangely, it is also the one thing that bring together Pat Robertson and Rudy Giuliani, who should otherwise have nothing in common.