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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ego Tripping: How Rudy Defeated Giuliani

(Editor's note: Today's column was written by Steve, a longtime friend dating back to the second millennium. He's known for doing his research, as he once wrote articles for a New London Day subsidiary. From the beginning of his column, I think you'll be hooked. With Rudy Giuliani's growing popularity, Steve takes a step back and with a wide-angle lens re-examines an American who's reputation is based on a terrorist attack. His conclusions are thought-provoking. Ultimately, the question must be asked: Who was Rudy Giuliani before 9/11?)

In my younger and more vulnerable years my aunt gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “No one is indispensable,” she told me. “No one can’t be replaced.”

She didn’t say any more, and I understood that she meant a great deal more than that. The point isn’t that a bigger fish swims (maybe it doesn’t) but that the world turns without the biggest fish. It’s not that the world doesn’t revolve around you, it’s that the world can easily find another axis.

It’s not a motto that politicians often take to heart, least of all the mayor of New York City who accrued $2.5 billion in debts to fund projects and programs he thought would benefit him politically. Rudolph Giuliani, 62, has earned some braggadocio, running the world’s thirteenth largest city, but unique to Giuliani is his incredibly inflated sense of self, shown especially in his attempt to extend his mayoral term limits after 9/11.

“While Mr. Giuliani has been a great leader during this crisis,” wrote the New York Times’ editorial page on September 28, “the truth is that no one is indispensable. George Washington understood that when he rejected repeated attempts to keep him in power indefinitely. Washington was followed in the presidency by a long line of successors, some of them distinctly mediocre. But the country went on, because the people put their faith in the democratic process, and not in the strength of one individual.”

Giuliani’s ego has played out in five direct ways, five reasons why he will not be the next President of the United States of America (foregoing his picture on the original cover of Prince of the City, eerily alike the Snow Shovel Murderer from Home Alone): wives, crime, education, racism, radios.

WIVES

Ronald Reagan is the only U.S. President to have been divorced. Rudolph Giuliani is on his third marriage, this time to Judith Nathan, which began with a public affair while he was still married to Donna Hanover. This was the second of two public affairs during his six-year stint as Mayor of New York City (the first was with his communications director). To boot, Rudy married Hanover while still legally bound to Regina Peruggi, his second cousin. Always on to the next best thing…

Rudy is probably a good husband and father when he wants to be, in the same way that he wasn’t a bad mayor when he focused on being mayor. As New York Post columnist Jack Newfield wrote in The Full Rudy: “He had a successful first term from 1994 to 1997, when he was moderate, fresh, focused, not thinking about running statewide for the Senate and not intoxicated by hubris” (2).

But Rudy’s relationship with women is a clear example of his brutal opportunism. To quote his second schools chancellor: “He is so incredibly self-centered that no one else’s feelings are even part of the radar screen.”

CRIME

In 1982, as Deputy U.S. Attorney General, Giuliani defended the torture and repression by the Baby Doc Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti. Years later as US Attorney for New York State’s Southern District, Giuliani famously prosecuted “Fat Tony” Salerno and Ivan Boesky, which led to the indictment of Michael Milken (think Gordon Gecko). He’ll brag about this in the primaries, but soon it’ll leak that even with more assistants than any other U.S. attorney’s office, Giuliani’s office had the tenth lowest number of completed cases per assistant. While a Texas district recorded 56.2 cases closed per assistant, Giuliani’s logged 27.1. This man of productivity.

True to form, Giuliani takes credit where credit isn’t due. (A telling court case: Giuliani forced the New York Transit Authority to remove this New York magazine ad from all buses: “Possibly the only thing in New York Rudy Giuliani hasn’t taken credit for.” The magazine sued and won.) In his biography, Leadership, he brags about implementing the “Broken Windows” theory: “When I ran for mayor, I promised to do something about the out-of-control crime rates that were holding the city hostage” (71).

Right. At the time, Giuliani himself said that “nobody can be sure exactly what’s going on” with the declining crime and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called Giuliani’s City Hall “the black hole of law enforcement.” The drop in crime began to accelerate rapidly in 1993 (http://www.city-journal.org/html/15_1_ny_crime.html) when Giuliani took office. There’s no way he can take credit for that.

Economist Steven Levitt has argued that the legalization of abortion was the largest factor in the drastic drop in crime. (This drastic drop in crime meant fewer taxes used to house criminals, and gave Giuliani more money. He had his cake and ate it, too.) If 9/11 happened in another U.S. city, we’d see that mayor in Rudy’s shoes today.

RACE

In his first term, Giuliani discarded the previous mayor’s affirmative action plan, stopped advertising job openings in black newspapers and eliminated New York’s minority contracting program. By 1996, 4632 fewer blacks were working in agencies under mayoral control. Quoting Giuliani’s Parks Commissioner Henry Stern: blacks are “genetically inferior, because they have smaller brainpans” (Newfeld, 71).

According to a study in 1999 by then Attorney General Elliot Spitzer, the NYPD stopped Latinos 39 percent more often than whites and stopped blacks 23 percent more often than whites.

“Rudy Giuliani’s record on race was a disgrace as mayor of New York. …Bloomberg had more contact with the black community in eight weeks than Giuliani had in eight years. Today in New York, there is visibly less racial tension” (Newfeld, 67, 88).

Peripheral to this issue is Rudy’s work with the homeless.

“I thought he was sincere in 1989 when he visited shelters and promised a system of smaller, more humane shelters,” said the director of Coalition for the Homeless, Mary Sullivan. “When he turned to us in 1993, I thought it was ruthless opportunism. But after he was elected mayor, his attitude hardened into something even worse – into hatred. He despised the poor” (Wayne Barrett, Rudy!, 166).

Here’s a court case to site to your Republican uncle: Walton v. Safir. Yvette Walton, a black officer, was fired when she spoke out against racial profiling by the NYPD’s Street Crime Unit. The federal district court ruled that the NYPD fired Walton in revenge and ordered her reinstated. Not until 2002, AFTER RUDY LEFT, did a new police commissioner ban racial profiling.

For more outrageous racism on Rudy’s watch, Google the names Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo.

EDUCATION

Giuliani on education: “the whole school system should be blown up.”

In 1994, Giuliani demanded 2500 people be cut from the staff of the Central Board of Education. When the chancellor refused, Giuliani forced him out, calling him a “whining” “little victim.” Rudy also forced out his second chancellor, who later said this: “When Rudy sees a need to take someone out, he has a machine, a room full of henchmen, nicking away at you, leaking crazy stories. He is not bound by the truth” (Newfeld, 57).

While www.JoinRudy2008.com claims that Giuliani’s education budget increased from $8 billion to $12 billion (chalk up $2 billion to inflation alone) and more than 13,000 new teachers were hired, it is undeniable that in Giuliani’s first three years as mayor he cut the education budget by $1.3 billion. 10,000 people marched over the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall in 1995 to protest his education cuts.

When Michael Bloomberg first became mayor he said this: “There is no question it’s (the school system) gotten worse in the last eight years, not better” (Newfeld, 40).

RADIOS

For a guy who held a tight leash on everything taxable and supposedly questioned everything happening in city government, how could Rudolph Giuliani allow the FDNY to have dysfunctional radios for the year leading up to 9/11? If he wears a hat emblazed with FDNY, it’s because the bucks stops there for the death of the firefighters who died in the North Tower. Their radios didn’t work and they didn’t know the South Tower had collapsed.

How can the hero of 9/11 keep face?

IN CONCLUSION

A recent Quinnipiac University poll contends that, faced with an either/or, 48 percent of American voters would vote for Rudolph Giuliani compared to 43 percent for Hilary Clinton.

“Giuliani will be ripped to shreds on cultural issues in the primaries,” predicted Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report, in a January interview with The Financial Times. “Polls show his strength is among conservatives, who like his leadership image. That will melt like a snow cone in the Sahara when his record, the video of him marching, what, six, seven, eight times, in the New York City Gay Pride parade, come out.”

“Rudolph Giuliani did well after Sept. 11, 2001, and was impressively well-liked Republican mayor in liberal New York,” The Boston Globe said on February 23. “But Giuliani is popular as a steadfast social liberal, respectful of gay rights and abortion rights. Unlike former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Giuliani was far too forthright to start doing pirouettes now. It’s hard to imagine the GOP base going along.”

V.P.? Maybe. But Rudolph Giuliani won’t be America’s fifth oldest elected President (post a response and tell me who is the oldest and who wants to be the oldest). He won’t be the second Roman Catholic President (who is the only?). Maybe Rudy’s record on education or even racism could be bypassed for the Republican nomination, but in running for President he’d be ensnared by sexual escapades, an unfounded claim as crime-buster, and the sound of silent radios.

The falling towers elevated Giuliani to Person of the Year. (Hell, even I’ve been Time’s Person of the Year.) He was America’s Mayor when the nation lacked a President. But with the nation’s disapproval of the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism, that title too has fallen. Let’s hope the same for Rudy’s ego after it bites him in the ass.

3 comments:

sptmck said...

What about Rudy's decision after the 1993 WTC attack to house the city's anti-terrorism unit in...the World Trade Center? You've got to be kidding me? And they call him the hero of 9/11?

Stephen C. Kurczy said...

Yeah... After the 1993 attack, one of the terrorists actually returned to the Ryder Truck Rental in Jersey to get back his $400 deposit on the getaway van. CIA agents were waiting (sneaky, sneaky), and as they drove past the towers the terrorist said something ominous like, "One day they'll fall..." (from Wayne Barret second biography on Giuliani, "Grand Illusion")

PresidentWebb said...

Good stuff. However, you forget that Americans are stupid, sorry.....not intellectual.

This means that as long as Rudy stays involved, his name recognition alone plays well for the folks who may not have voted otherwise. He maintains a DC "outsider" persona, which the plain spoken people say they most admire.

Would Rudy be a terrible President, hell yes, but anything is better then who we have today.
He is no John McCain or JFK, but maybe maybe U.S. Grant is a good model for him to follow.

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