GIULIANI'S FOREIGN POLICY: If you haven't seen it yet I highly recommend reading Matt Bai's cover story in this week's New York Times Magazine on Rudy Giuliani. Bai gets at the essential contradiction of Giuliani running a campaign on the claim that he is the best-equipped to fight terrorism. As Bai notes, Giuliani had no known pre-occupation with Islamic radicalism prior to 9/11, nor did he do much to equip New York's first responders for the event of such a catastrophe. (Ari Paul recently reported for TAP Online on the NYC firefighters particular disappointment with Giuliani's performance.)

But Bai also gets at what makes Giuliani's pitch so appealing to many voters nonetheless. It is an assertion of characterlogical, rather than experiential or policy-based superiority. I'm the baddest cop out there, Giuliani seems to be saying, and his record as a prosecutor and tough-on-crime mayor make it seem pretty plausible. Just because Giuliani is ahead in the polls doesn't prove to me that this will overcome his disadvantages in the Republican primaries. As late as mid-January he could find his national lead evaporate if, say, Mitt Romney gets a huge bounce out of winning in Iowa and New Hampshire. But if he does, I think he will prove to be the Democrats' most dangerous opponent -- ex-wives and estranged children notwithstanding.

--Ben Adler

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