RUDY AND FEDERALISM….I was genuinely pretty surprised when I opened up the paper this morning and read Ron Brownstein’s weekly column. He’s generally a sharp guy, but today he takes at face value Rudy Giuliani’s argument that he’s a principled federalist:

Giuliani argues that the best way to reduce tension about social issues is to allow states, rather than the federal government, to take the lead in responding to them. That would allow socially conservative and liberal states to each set rules that reflect the prevailing values inside their borders….That perspective leads Giuliani toward positions uncomfortable for both left and right.

“Uncomfortable for both left and right.” What a maverick! But please: there isn’t a political reporter in Washington who doesn’t know why Giuliani is taking this position, and Brownstein knows it too. But he gives us only one weak sentence about Giuliani’s real motivation:

Federalism serves Giuliani’s political interests because it allows him to reconcile his generally moderate social views with his socially conservative party.

Right. It would be one thing if federalism had been a hallmark of Giuliani’s political career, but it hasn’t. Hell, even his famous “12 Commitments” didn’t say a word about federalism, and that was only a month ago. As virtually everyone acknowledges, Giuliani converted to the church of federalism because the Christian Right hates his tolerant views on abortion and gay rights and this is his way of pandering to them without officially changing his long-held views. Any serious look at whether Giuliani would genuinely be committed to federalism as president really ought to make that clear.