Liberals for Giuliani

In the spirit of the minute-long You Tube video, "Gays for Giuliani," which is aimed at highlighting the former mayor's backpedaling from his once strong support for gay rights, I have another suggestion:

How about "Liberals for Giuliani"?

I'm talking about not just another You Tube video, which would be great, but an assembly of dedicated Giuliani critics dressed up as supporters, who could wave "Liberals for Giuliani" banners at his campaign appearances in early primary states where he is courting social conservatives.

Giuliani's liberal credentials include, of course, his embrace of much of the gay community agenda as New York's mayor, as well as his support of illegal immigrants, gun control and, of course, the legal right to an abortion.

The ironic tag also fits because he wooed city labor unions with pension sweeteners during his reelection campaign, put nearly every city agency to work signing up uninsured families for Medicaid mid-term, and burned through a three- billion-dollar surplus (while touting fiscal prudence, of course) before leaving office at the end of 2001. The state Liberal Party twice lifted the Republican to election success; the party chairman, Raymond B. Harding, held influence over the Giuliani regime's hiring and personnel decisions, and saw his law and lobbying firm boom with clients seeking favorable treatment and contracts from city hall.

When it comes to permissiveness, who can forget Giuliani's own shining example from his personal playbook: the extramarital affair he had while running against the former first lady of the United States. "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" was the Daily News front page the morning after Giuliani took his memorable stroll with his mistress in front of the news media. It came just in time for Mother's Day weekend, which his two children, who are disaffected from him, must surely have appreciated at the time.

True, it's incorrect to label Giuliani a liberal. His positions change to suit both the times and his immediate ambitions. As he joins other GOP presidential candidates in embracing the Reagan legacy -- the better to downplay associations with Bush II -- it's amusing to recall Giuliani backpedaled from Reaganism when he first ran for mayor of New York in 1989.

During the primary phase, Giuliani noted often that he was backed by the liberal wing of the Republican Party, and he asserted he never supported Reagan's broad conservative agenda, which his opponent, future mayor David Dinkins, a Democrat, argued had been harmful to New York.

At one point back then, Giuliani's mayoral-campaign staff released a copy of a letter he wrote in June 1984, as U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, in which he resisted attempts by the Reagan administration to cut off Social Security disability benefits to some recipients. Giuliani also underscored that he prosecuted two men who were close to Reagan's former Attorney General Edwin Meese III in the bribery case involving Wedtech, the Bronx defense contractor treated favorably by the Reagan administration.

So, it's best to set aside liberals' complaints about Giuliani now, and play up the liberal positions and actions that constitute a glaring and important aspect of his record of politically expedient conduct. "Liberal for Giuliani" T-shirts, pins and bumber stickers are bound to roll down some socks in places like Iowa.