I will keep America on offense in the Terrorists’ War on Us. ~Rudy Giuliani
James Joyner reasonably asks: “What the hell does that mean, exactly?” Mr. Joyner goes through Giuliani’s “twelve commitments,” all of which are equally vague, and asks the right questions in response. There is also a rhetorical problem with Giuliani’s re-branding of the “war on terror.” If it is “the terrorists’ war on us,” this automatically gives the sense that we are already on the defensive, which renders his warnings about Democrats’ putting us on defense meaningless. Ignore for a moment how simplistic and ridiculous this sort of thinking is (should we rename the drug war “drugs’ war on us”?), and just note that Giuliani’s first act to “keep us on offense” is to adopt a name that carries the connotation of being on the defensive. Rhetorically, it is a total failure. It conveys an idea that directly contradicts the message that Giuliani wants to send. If he can’t even manage to get the phrasing right, why would anyone think that he knows how to handle actual policy challenges?
It is amusing to think that all the polls and many pundits have held up Giuliani as the frontrunner, and yet he has not even made a formal announcement and has not given a single policy speech worth mentioning. If these “commitments” are what he will be campaigning on for the next several months, he won’t remain in front of the pack for very long.