Editorials | May 2007
|An Italian-American for President?|
Domenico Maceri - PVNN
In 1984 Walter Mondale made history when he chose Geraldine Ferraro as his vice-presidential nominee, the first time a woman ever to have such an opportunity. Last year, Nancy Pelosi, another Italian-American, made history when she was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. Now it looks like another Italian-American, Rudolph Giuliani, may go even further with his candidacy to the presidency of the U.S.
|If Giuliani will win the White House, he will make history not simply because of his ethnicity but also for having made the jump from mayor to president. (Gotham Gazette)|
In the last decades most American presidents have been elected after serving some years as governors of their states. See, for example, the current president, George W. Bush (Texas), Bill Clinton (Arkansas), Ronald Reagan (California), and Jimmy Carter (Georgia). If Giuliani will win the White House, he will make history not simply because of his ethnicity but also for having made the jump from mayor to president.
It was as mayor that Giuliani became a national figure. During the tragic events of 9/11 he emerged as a hero for his ability to deal with the situation. His calm and strong but compassionate personality provided trust to everyone in a tragic moment and managed to restore order in the city. His reaction soon after the attack on the Twin Towers is considered by everyone worthy of a leader who could face any emergency.
Before 9/11 his record as mayor of New York was mixed. On the one hand he is credited with restoring order to the city by controlling crime and giving New Yorkers a sense of security. But his relationship with minorities leaves much to be desired, especially for his blind support of the police even in situations of abuses as in the case of Amadou Diallo. Diallo was killed with 41 gunshot wounds in spite of the fact that he was unharmed. In addition, Giuliani is famous for losing his temper when confronted with people with different opinions.
Giuliani’s moderate views on abortion, civil unions, arms control are also qualities which would become vital in a general election. But before taking his case to all to Americans, he’ll have to win the Republican nomination. And it’s here that Giuliani might face the biggest obstacle. His personal life, with three marriages, will not be seen as palatable to the right wing of the GOP, particularly Evangelicals. However, it has been pointed out that Ronald Reagan, a symbol of the Republican Party, was divorced.
Giuliani’s two major opponents at the moment are John McCain and Mitt Romney, both of whom share similar weaknesses. Both are considered moderate and far from possessing the qualities required by conservative elements of the GOP. It seems though that Romney may have a slight advantage in this respect. Yet, there are attempts to find a true conservative candidate. Fred Thompson, former U.S. senator from Tennessee, seems to fit the bill of the true conservatives, but so far he has not announced.
Another weak point for Giuliani which his two opponents also share is the support for Bush’s policies on the Iraq war. The latest polls show Giuliani in first place but at this stage of the game it might be only a matter of name recognition. The memory of 9/11 is still fresh in people’s mind and Giuliani appears to have the leadership qualities to deal with future crises.
The likely democratic candidate at the moment seems to be Hillary Clinton. If Giuliani and the former first lady become the respective candidates of their parties, it will also be something historical since both candidates will be from New York State. In essence, it will be the rematch for Giuliani who in 2000 resigned his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat from New York leaving the field wide open for Hillary Clinton. If Giuliani manages to win the GOP nomination, we could have the first Italian-American residing in the White House.
Domenico Maceri, PhD, UC Santa Barbara, teaches foreign languages at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA. He is the author of a book on Pirandello, one on Spanish grammar, and another on Italian grammar. He has also published a number of articles in newspapers and magazines around the world, some of which have won awards from the National Association of Hispanic Publications.
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