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Giuliani shamelessly kisses up to gun lobby
By A TIMES EDITORIAL
Published September 23, 2007
In the most hypocritical speech of any presidential candidate so far, Rudy Giuliani told a National Rifle Association audience he no longer supports the tough gun-controls laws he once fought for as mayor of New York. Apparently that shameless denial of his past even embarrassed Giuliani, who interrupted his speech Friday to take a personal cell phone call from his wife. It was a bizarre moment, though not nearly as unsettling as watching a man who had once prided himself on his tough stance against urban gun violence now kissing up to the NRA.
This was no mere waffle. This was an all-out retreat from his prior beliefs. He used the occasion to distance himself from a lawsuit he filed seven years ago to hold gun manufacturers liable for the violence done with their products. He didn't even wait for the issue to get its day in court. "That lawsuit has gone in a direction I probably don't agree with at this point," he said.
The Republican tough guy even sounded contrite about his usually ballyhooed crackdown on violent crime in New York, when he became a national spokesman for sensible gun laws. In 1995, Giuliani called the NRA "extremists" and condemned the group's defense of assault weapons as "a terrible, terrible mistake." There was no such talk on Friday, when he offered up every sop he could think of to the powerful special-interest group.
Giuliani praised a recent court decision that revoked tough gun-control laws in the District of Columbia, hailing the judge who wrote that opinion as the kind of "strict constructionist" of the Constitution that Giuliani, as president, would appoint to the bench. He made a strained connection to terrorism, saying that the 9/11 experience "highlights the necessity for (Second Amendment rights) more." And he dusted off the NRA's oldest cliche: "After all, it's people that commit crimes - not guns."
Yet Giuliani saved his most outrageous hypocrisy for last. "I'm going to tell you what I believe ... it's not going to change," he said.
Even an NRA audience that enjoys making politicians squirm must have gotten a laugh over that one. Who knows what the gun-control advocate turned pawn of the NRA will say next? Maybe the phone message Giuliani got from his wife was to stop talking while he still had some dignity left. If so, he should have listened.