June 16, 2006

"go to a choice system and break up the monopoly"

This piece by Ryan Sager makes Rudy look very appealing (Thanks, Dean)... I may have to add "Giuliani" to my spell-checker...

June 14, 2006 -- A small gathering in Mid town yesterday got a sneak peek at Rudy Giuliani's formula as he gears up for a likely 2008 presidential run. That formula: one-third leadership, one-third technocratic centrist and one-third radical conservative reformer.
There's a reason Giuliani outpolls Sen. John McCain regularly when it comes to who conservative Republicans prefer for the presidency - while also maintaining great popularity with centrists - and it was on full display in this Manhattan Institute-hosted talk on energy policy...

...Summing up U.S. energy policy since the 1970s, he was blunt: "We haven't done anything." We haven't drilled in Alaska. We haven't built oil refineries. We haven't ordered a nuclear power plant since 1978.

We need to start doing these things, he said, to diversify. Energy independence, he said, is simply the "wrong paradigm," despite the idea's popularity in quarters of both the Left and the Right. Instead, in a global economy, "We have to diversify, that's our strength ...You can be independent by being diversified."...

Good stuff. One important thing is that Rudy has experience running a large and complex entity. There is a good reason why we rarely elect Senators to the presidency--we've never seen them manage anything bigger than an office with a few dozen staffers.

But this is what really grabbed me:

...The red meat for conservatives, however, came in the Q&A: An audience member asked Giuliani what he would do on education as president.

Without deflecting the loaded premise of the question (no announcement yet, folks), the former mayor launched into an impassioned brief for school choice. "A president has to know the role" of the federal government, he said. "It's more of a leadership role." But as that leader, he would emphasize, "choice and vouchers."

As mayor, he said, he thought he could do for the schools what he did for the police department and other city agencies. But he learned he was wrong. The education bureaucracy and the teachers unions were too deeply entrenched. What's needed, he said, "is to go to a choice system and break up the monopoly."

Even if they believe it, "most Democrats can't say to you what I just said," he told the crowd. "They're not allowed to."

What's more, he said, there's not as much support even among Republicans for school choice as one might think. The GOP's electoral base is largely suburban, and suburban schools are doing just fine. Some suburban parents might even see school vouchers and other choice programs as a threat to their cushy status quo. These suburban Republicans simply aren't affected by what's happening to our urban schools.

"They're just not thinking of the good of the country in general," he said - taking a forceful swipe at the selfishness of a group of voters that he may soon be courting.

But he's not going to forget about choice, he said, because it's a civil-rights issue. He recalled when a private philanthropy offered low-income kids in New York City a chance at scholarships to private and parochial schools - a sort of private version of the public voucher program he'd like to see. There were 167,000 applications for a relative handful of spots. The rest of the kids were left stranded.

"I'll never forget that number," he said.

And conservatives are unlikely to forget his political courage.
Posted by John Weidner at June 16, 2006 6:49 AM
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