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Why Rudy Giuliani Really Shouldn’t be President
Special Guests Blog ^ | Marach 8.2007 | Jim Sleeper

Posted on 03/10/2007 9:24:06 PM PST by Angel

The deluge of commentary on Rudolph Giuliani’s presidential prospects has forced me finally to break my long silence about the man. Somebody’s gotta say it: He shouldn’t be president, not because he’s too “liberal” or “conservative,” or because his positions on social issues have been heterodox, or because he seems tone-deaf on race, or because his family life has been messy, or because he’s sometimes been as crass an opportunist as almost every other politician of note. Rudy Giuliani shouldn’t be president for reasons more profoundly troubling. Maybe you had to be with him at the start of his electoral career to see them clearly.

Throughout the fall, 1993 New York mayoral campaigns, I tried harder than any other columnist I know of to convince left-liberal friends and everyone else that Giuliani would win and probably should.

In the Daily News, the New Republic, and on cable and network TV, I insisted it had come to this because racial “Rainbow” and welfare-state politics were imploding nationwide, not just in New York and not only thanks to racists, Ronald Reagan, or robber barons. One didn’t have to share all of Giuliani’s “colorblind,” “law-and-order,” and free-market presumptions to want big shifts in liberal Democratic paradigms and to see that some of those shifts would require a political battering ram, not a scalpel.

I spent a lot of time with Giuliani during the 1993 campaign and his first year in City Hall, and while a dozen of my columns criticized him sharply for presuming far too much, I defended most of his record to the end of his tenure. He forced New York, that great capital of “root cause” explanations for every social problem, to get real about remedies that work, at least for now, in the world as we know it. I saw Al Sharpton blink as I told him in a debate that twice as many New Yorkers had been felled by police bullets during David Dinkins’ four-year mayoralty as during Giuliani’s then-seven years and that the drop in all murders meant that at least two thousand black and Hispanic New Yorkers who’d have been dead were up and walking around.

Giuliani’s successes ranged well beyond crime reduction. As late as July, 2001, when his personal and political blunders had eclipsed those gains and he had only a lame duck’s six months to go, I insisted in a New York Observer column that he’d facilitated housing, entrepreneurial, and employment gains for people whose loudest-mouthed advocates called him a racist reactionary. James Chapin, the late democratic socialist savant, considered Giuliani a “progressive conservative” like Teddy Roosevelt, who was a New York police commissioner before becoming Vice President and President.

Yet Giuliani’s methods and motives suggest he couldn’t carry his skills and experience to the White House without damaging this country. Two problems run deeper than the current likely “horse race” liabilities, such as his social views and family history.

The first serious problem is structural and political: A man who fought the inherent limits of his mayoral office as fanatically as Giuliani would construe presidential prerogatives so broadly he’d make George Bush’s notions of “unitary” executive power seem soft.

Even in the 1980s, as an assistant attorney general in the Reagan Justice Department and U.S. Attorney in New York, Giuliani was imperious and overreaching. He "perp-walked" Wall Streeters right out of their offices in dramatic prosecutions that failed. He made the troubled daughter of a state judge, Hortense Gabel, testify against her mother and former Miss America Bess Meyerson in a failed prosecution charging, among other things, that Meyerson had hired the judge’s daughter to bribe her into helping “expedite” a messy divorce case. The jury was so put off by Giuliani’s tactics that it acquitted all concerned, as the Washington Post recalled ten years later in assessing Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s subpoena of Monica Lewinsky’s mother to testify against her daughter.

At least, as U.S. Attorney, Giuliani served at the pleasure of the President and had to defer to federal judges. Were he the President, U.S. Attorneys would serve at his pleasure -- a dangerous arrangement in the wrong hands, we’ve learned -- and he’d pick the judges to whom prosecutors defer.

As mayor, Giuliani fielded his closest aides like a fast and sometimes brutal hockey team, micro-managing and bludgeoning city agencies and even agencies that weren’t his, like the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Board of Education. They deserved it richly enough to make his bravado thrilling to many of us, but it wasn’t very productive. And while this Savonarola disdained even would-be allies in other branches of government, he wasn’t above cutting indefensible deals with crony contractors and pandering shamelessly to some Hispanics, orthodox Jews, and other favored constituencies.

Even the credit he claimed for transportation, housing and safety improvements belongs partly and sometimes wholly to predecessors’ decisions and to economic good luck: As he left office the New York Times noted that on his first day as mayor in 1994, the Dow Jones had stood at 3754.09, while on his last day, Dec. 31, 2001, it opened at 10,136.99: “For most of his tenure, the city’s treasury gushed with revenues generated by Wall Street.” Dinkins had had to struggle through the after-effects the huge crash of 1987.

Remarkable though Giuliani’s mayoral record remains, it’s complicated further by more than socio-economic circumstances and structural constraints. Ironically, it was his most heroic moments as mayor that spotlighted his deepest presidential liability. Fred Siegel, author of the Giuliani-touting Prince of the City, posed the problem recently when he wondered why, after Giuliani’s 1997 mayoral reelection, with the city buoyed by its new safety and economic success, he wasn’t “able to turn his Churchillian political personality down a few notches."

I’ll tell you why: Giuliani’s 9/11 performance was sublime for the unnerving reason that he’d been rehearsing for it all his adult life and remained trapped in that stage role. When his oldest friend and deputy mayor Peter Powers told me in 1994 that 16-year-old Rudy had started an opera club at Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn, I didn’t have to connect too many of the dots I’d been seeing to begin noticing that Giuliani at times acted like an opera fanatic who’s living in a libretto as much as in the real world.

In private, Rudy can contemplate the human comedy with a Machiavellian prince’s supple wit. But when he walks on stage, he tenses up so much that even his efforts to lighten up seem labored. What drove him as mayor was a zealot’s graceless division of everyone into friend or foe and his snarling, sometimes histrionic, vilifications of the foes. Those are operatic emotions, beneath the civic dignity of a great city and its chief magistrate.

Of course, I know more than a few New Yorkers who deserve the Rudy treatment, but only on 9/11 did the city really become as operatic as the inside of Rudy’s mind. For once, New York re-arranged itself into a stage fit for, say, Rossini’s “Le Siege de Corinth” or some dark, nationalist epic by Verdi or Puccini that ends with bodies strewn all over and the tragic but noble hero grieving for his devastated people and, perhaps, foretelling a new dawn.

Giuliani called the Metropolitan Opera only a few days after 9/11 and insisted its performances resume. At the first of these, the orchestra, striking up a few well-known chords, brought the entire cast, Met administrative, secretarial, and custodial staff (who'd come up onstage), and the capacity audience to their feet to sing “The Star Spangled Banner” with unprecedented passion. A few days later Giuliani proposed that his term be extended on an “emergency” basis beyond its lawful end on January 1, 2002. (It wasn’t, and the city did as well as it could have, anyway.)

Should this country suffer another devastating attack before the 2008 primaries are over, Giuliani’s presidential prospects may soar beyond recalling. But the very Constitutional notion of recall could soar away with them. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and Giuliani was right for his time and on a stage with built-in limits. But we shouldn’t have to make him the next President to learn why even a grateful Britain dumped Churchill in its first major election after V-E day.

TOPICS: Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: elagabalus; electionpresident; elections; giuliani; kingrudy; rino; rudy; rutards
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To: FreeKeys

We are in complete agreement.

121 posted on 03/11/2007 2:39:20 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: Angel; B-Chan; Froufrou; GlasstotheArson; Trainer; Mrs. Frogjerk; Fiddlstix; xsmommy; TitansAFC; ...

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic Ping List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to all note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of interest.

122 posted on 03/11/2007 2:40:59 PM PDT by narses ("Freedom is about authority." - Rudolph Giuliani)
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To: Angel
I’m pro-choice. I’m pro-gay rights, Giuliani said. He was then asked whether he supports a ban on what critics call partial-birth abortions. “No, I have not supported that, and I don’t see my position on that changing,” he responded. Source:, “Inside Politics” Dec 2, 1999

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES (November 14, 2006)

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: I'm pro- choice. I'm pro-gay rights.

KING: Giuliani supports a woman's right to an abortion, and back in 1999, he opposed a federal ban on late-term abortions.

GIULIANI: No, I have not supported that, and I don't see my position on that changing.

KING: Immigration could be another presidential landmine. Back in 1996, Mayor Giuliani went to federal court to challenge new federal laws requiring the city to inform the federal government about illegal immigrants.

JEFFREY: He took the side of illegal immigrants in New York City against the Republican Congress.

KING: Giuliani opposes same-sex marriage but as mayor, he supported civil unions and extending health and other benefits to gay couples. He also supported the assault weapons ban and other gun control measures opposed by the National Rifle Association.

GIULIANI: I'm in favor of gun control. I'm pro-choice.

Republican Big-Wigs Support Pro-Abortion Event in NY

Pro-abortion Governor George Pataki and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who also supports unrestricted abortion, are co-chairs of the 2000 Choice Award Presentation to be held on May 30 at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. The event is sponsored by the Republican Pro-Choice Coalition, a group that is campaigning for the removal of the pro-life plank from the Republican National Platform.

123 posted on 03/11/2007 2:41:44 PM PDT by narses ("Freedom is about authority." - Rudolph Giuliani)
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To: Free ThinkerNY

124 posted on 03/11/2007 2:42:17 PM PDT by Mojave
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To: Carry_Okie
Reagan was all FOR the BRADY BILL.

Rudy did NOTHING "fascistic" as mayor.

Just throwing words around and ignoring facts, as you have, doesn't do anything to help your positions.

125 posted on 03/11/2007 2:43:49 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
Calling Rudy "tone-deaf on race" and then talking about him being called a racist, most assuredly is calling the man a racists, twice; even though he did mention the Al Sharpton bit, which was NOT a "debate" at all. Rudy REFUSED to meet and kow-tow to Sharpton!

I suggest that you go read the article again, since you missed so much of it the first time around.

The Bess Myerson thing was NOT dismissed. She was guilty and she was found guilty at trial.

I almost NEVER ( as in 99.7% percent of the time ) drop names nor introduce personal stuff on FR; however, in this instance I'm going to do just that. I know one of Bess's first cousins; have since high school. I not only followed this incident in the papers and T.V., but talked with members of Bess' family. Just HOW familiar are YOU, PERSONALLY, with this case?

It was Michael Milken, who was being referred to, with the "WALL STREET TYPES" mentioned in the article. And Milken and his cronies WERE convicted.

You would be far better off, if you wrote about things you knew and understood. Try saves a lot of eating of humble pie, later on.

People here complain that the president and some of those in his administration are "spineless". Rudy has a SPINE and you're complaining about that.

126 posted on 03/11/2007 2:58:29 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: SkyPilot
Tell us all EWHY Rudy dressed like that,IN COMPLETE DETAIL, or don't post any more of those pictures.

Posting them do you and your pals no good at all; it just makes you look ridiculous and Rudy look better and better and BETTER! :-)

127 posted on 03/11/2007 3:01:34 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: Tulsa Ramjet
Rudy is liked a LOT in the South! Keep on posting your delusions and you are going to look foolish. :-)
128 posted on 03/11/2007 3:03:38 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: nopardons

Thank you! Just trying to lighten things up a bit! Glad you caught it!!

129 posted on 03/11/2007 3:03:49 PM PDT by upsdriver ((Hunter / Thompson......Gonzo politics)
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To: Delphinium
If that's what YOU think, then it is YOU who are foolish!

OTOH, someone living far away from the tri-state area, knows almost nothing whatsoever, about Elliot Spitzer.

130 posted on 03/11/2007 3:06:57 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: dmw
Oh yes, absolutely and that's WHY every poll shows Rudy beating Hillary, I guess. LOL
131 posted on 03/11/2007 3:12:38 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: Carry_Okie; Free ThinkerNY
I invoke Godwin's law. The 1st person to compare someone to Hitler or the Nazi's forfeits the debate.
132 posted on 03/11/2007 3:13:06 PM PDT by Blackirish
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To: BigTom85
You have NO idea what a "police state" is.

This is getting really ridiculous...calling people and places things that they are not, destroys the debate. Go get yourself a good dictionary.

133 posted on 03/11/2007 3:15:35 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: nopardons
Bess Myerson was acquitted.
134 posted on 03/11/2007 3:18:26 PM PDT by garv (Conservatism in '08
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To: nopardons
Rudy is liked a LOT in the South

Maybe by some folks.

Rudy does however scare the crap out of unborn children and gun owners.

The first because Rudy will allow you to be killed right up until seconds before your birth and the second because Rudy thinks the Feds can tell them what kind of firearms they can own.

Rudy is a fraud. He's an anti-Contitution baby killing fraud.

I'm going to enjoy watching him lose the primary.

Failing that, I'll enjoy watching him lose the General.


135 posted on 03/11/2007 3:18:47 PM PDT by Lurker (Calling islam a religion is like calling a car a submarine.)
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To: Carry_Okie
Just WHAT companies were taken over by the N.Y.C. government, when Rudy was mayor?

Which groups of people were rounded up and sent to concentration camps and killed, when Rudy was mayor?

Your very sill analogy is patently false and unsubstantiated.

136 posted on 03/11/2007 3:22:50 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: narses

The SPAM QUEEN returneth! LOL

137 posted on 03/11/2007 3:23:44 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: upsdriver

Yes, I did "catch it". :-)

138 posted on 03/11/2007 3:25:25 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: garv

There were two trials. Go look it up.

139 posted on 03/11/2007 3:26:38 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: Lurker
You're looking forward to enjoying a Hillary or an Obama or a Richardson presidency, are you? That says quite a LOT about YOU!

What are you going to do, when Rudy IS the president?

140 posted on 03/11/2007 3:28:58 PM PDT by nopardons
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