Wash. Post cited Giuliani's opposition to Iraq withdrawal in asserting his “tough[ness]”

A Washington Post article described Rudy Giuliani as “tough,” citing among other positions his opposition to withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. But the article did not elaborate on how holding this position makes one “tough” or whether holding the opposite view makes one not “tough.”

In a December 19 profile of former New York City mayor and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, Washington Post staff writers Michael Powell and Chris Cillizza described Giuliani as “tough,” citing among other positions his opposition to withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

According to the Post article, Giuliani's “strategy” for a presidential run “will be to capitalize on his status as a tough and plain-talking hero of Sept. 11, 2001.” The article continued: “He believes, say advisers, that his tough views on national security -- he supports the USA Patriot Act -- and on Iraq, where he opposes withdrawal of troops, will overshadow his liberal social views.” The article failed to indicate, however, how supporting the Patriot Act and opposing troop withdrawals from Iraq -- which were clearly separated from his “liberal” social positions -- makes one “tough” on national security or Iraq.

The article continued:

Giuliani, 62, presents an unusual figure in recent political history. His coolness after the Sept. 11 attacks, and his eloquence about that loss, rendered him that rare mayor who could step onto the national political stage. He has a core of socially liberal positions -- he also supports domestic partnerships for same-sex couples, although not marriage -- but wraps it in a hide as tough as any conservative Republican.

He's a crime fighter and a tax and welfare cutter. He campaigned for George W. Bush in 2000 and staked out unyielding positions on Iraq -- he said recently that withdrawing soon from Iraq “would be a terrible mistake.” He also disputed the recent findings of the Iraq Study Group, the bipartisan commission of elder statesmen, that concluded that untangling the Israeli-Palestinian knot is central to achieving a broader Middle East peace.

Once again, the Post clearly separated Giuliani's “tough” positions from his “socially liberal positions,” without explaining why cutting taxes and welfare, opposing troop withdrawals, and disagreeing with the Iraq Study Group qualify as having “a hide as tough as any conservative Republican.”

Also, the Post cited conservative radio host Dennis Prager as an example of a Republican who “say[s] his [Giuliani's] social liberalism is of less concern.” As Media Matters for America noted, Prager stoked controversy recently by claiming that Rep.-elect Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress, “should not be allowed” to “take his oath of office ... on the bible of Islam, the Koran,” and comparing Ellison's choice of the Quran to a hypothetical representative's choice of “Hitler's 'Mein Kampf,' the Nazis' bible, for his oath.”

As Media Matters has noted, the media have consistently equated opposition to withdrawing troops from Iraq with being “pro-military” or supportive of the troops -- setting up an implicit contrast with advocates of troop withdrawal as “weak” on defense or anti-military. Media Matters has also noted the media's apparent reluctance to look past Giuliani's reputation as “America's mayor” -- as the Post article referred to Giuliani in its first paragraph and on its website --despite the fact that Giuliani's political career, both before and after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has been marked by numerous controversies.