THE BLOG
10/10/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Contradictions and Confusion at the RNC

Even to my own surprise, I watched the Republican National Convention with the same zeal that I watched the Democrats' the week before.

Perhaps I was revisiting my past. I grew up idolizing New York Republicans Jacob Javits, John Lindsay and Nelson Rockefeller. I started to wonder what happened, what alienated me from our Grand Old Party. Former Republican congressman and current MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough offered a clue. When an audience member asked why he "seemed to become a liberal," Scarborough answered, "it is not my views that have changed," but that the Republicans have given up their fiscal conservatism, the conservatism in sending soldiers to war, that now in essence conservatism resembled something he and I don't recognize.

Watching the convention did little to lessen my confusion; the convention audience clearly loved the live version of "Palin In Wonderland."

Yet the contradictions I was hearing were weighing heavily on me. I watched the conventioneers devour her freshness while belittling their opponent's; revel in her independence though she spoke to a librarian about removing certain book titles from her hometown's library which would thereby limit independent thought. I heard spokeswoman after spokesman take task with those daring to see relevance in Gov. Palin's daughter's pregnancy at the same convention where Mitt Romney spoke about how conservatives must be elected to help eradicate teenage promiscuity.

How can Gov. Palin be hailed as a reformer but like Huey Long, after throwing the bums out is now being accused of the wrongful abuse of power? How can a mayor whose town became the beneficiary of multi-millions in earmarks and an early supporter of the most famous one of our generation - the bridge to nowhere -- now be the lynchpin of an administration hell-bent on eliminating pork from our budget diet?

Then Rudolf Giuliani cleared it up for me, providing what may have been a spontaneous admission of how Republican leaders feel about how the end can justify the means. Immediately after telling the crowd that we can trust John McCain "no matter what nature throws our way, anything the terrorists do to us," Giuliani stated, "I learned as a trial lawyer a long time ago: if you don't have the facts, you got to change them."

Skip the obvious irony; and skip whether the facts Giuliani was changing were relevant to his assessment of an obviously black and white guy being in charge of challenges that may require a sophistication and subtlety one doesn't learn as a POW. No, the issue for me was what it meant that a man whose only experience as a trial attorney was in a prosecutorial role and was admitting that he "learned" to "change" facts.

He neither mentioned a need to 'refocus attention' nor did he say that when you're on the un-winnable side of the argument to 'change the argument;' after all, there is only one set of facts but there can be many truths.

No, what Giuliani said, and I will say it again because its import should not be minimalized, that he learned, "if you don't have the facts, you got to change them."

Attorneys are officers of any court they enter. Per the American Bar Association's Rules of Professional Conduct, they have an ethical and professional responsibility to not knowingly make any false statement of material fact or law to a third person. Again, facts are facts.

How might the potentially unethical manipulations of fact have helped Giuliani achieve his own objectives? Giuliani cemented his reputation as a United States Attorney ready to do by continually prosecuting reputed mob leaders. Could his ambition and his admitted willingness to "change" the facts have in some way compromised the fairness of those proceedings? At the Republican Convention, Gov. Romney chastised the sitting Supreme Court for a ruling "that awards" Guantanamo prisoners with constitutional rights. Perhaps Giuliani made a different determination about organized crime figures.

Whatever his sins of the past, Giuliani's admitted deference for sounding right rather than being right compromises his credibility. Perhaps he knows Sen. Obama's plan to fix the economy will lower rather than raise taxes on 95% of our population and Giuliani's statements to the contrary is simply changing the facts to suit his purpose. More important, perhaps Giuliani knows but will not tell us that his good friend John McCain is not the right man for the job. Since he has admitted a willingness to lie when it serves him, how can anyone know what Giuliani really thinks?