There’s an article in this week’s Sports Illustrated about the Roger Federer versus Rafael Nadal rivalry, differentiating it from rivalries where it’s impossible to root for both sides. Federer and Nadal are both so likable, the article states, that it’s not like those nasty contests — Duke/UNC, Red Sox/Yankees, Hillary/Rudy — where you really can only pick one side or the other, and there’s no middle ground.
That line of thinking — that there’s a Hillary vs. Rudy “rivalry” — is another reason that, despite what I see as a lack of substance for Hillary, she leads national polls, as does Giuliani. I think that, to some degree, Americans may not be actually okay with Hillary Clinton (perhaps they haven’t thought it out quite yet), but they’d be more than excited for a Hillary vs. Rudy showdown in the general election. It would be exciting and vicious, with the left’s reigning hero (B. Clinton) going against the right’s reigning hero (of 9-11), in a New York-style throwdown. It’s the stuff of an easily-to-follow narrative, a manifest destiny continuation of the aborted 2000 Senate race, in a country where nuance doesn’t fly — just ask Barack Obama, who’s been skewered for speaking like a human being during debates.
Of course, all of this plays into the theory that the Republicans want Hillary to be the Democratic nominee because she’s beatable, and if Hillary is the nominee, Giuliani is the only one that can beat her. She would wipe the floor with Romney. She really would. But there’s always the distinct chance that Giuliani screws up, and Hillary takes the election home. It would be attack vs. standing firm, and the first one to budge would lose. Even I think it would be fascinating, and probably the most fascinating election I can remember, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to vote to make it happen. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, being a good campaigner won’t make someone a great President. I just think, with the Hillary vs. Rudy hoopla, a lot of Americans have forgotten that. They’re more excited about the race than the destination. And it’s the destination that really matters.