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America's mayor - you sure you want him? - Sisyphus Shrugged
Lasciate ogni speranza and put your feet up.
America's mayor - you sure you want him?
Our former mayor, as you may have heard, is doing fairly well with the Republican base (as well as, surprisingly, with some of the Republican faithful - although not with some of their leadership, but more of that later). He came in second in the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference - think Woodstock for people with witty insults about Hillary on their bumpers) straw poll of preferred Republican presidential nominees with 17% to Mitt Romney's 21%. Not bad, when you consider that Giuliani is pro-choice, pro-gay rights (including domestic partnership benefits), pro-gun control, and has a legendarily complicated personal life.

Really not bad, when you consider that Romney (who used to hold the same views but now says he's changed his mind) picked up the all-important Ann Coulter endorsement at the conference (here, Ms. Coulter once again narrowly avoids rehab by not quite calling Mr. Edwards a "faggot," to the great joy of the very friendly crowd, the consternation of right-wing bloggers, the belated objections of republican candidates, and the belated reporting of the New York Times).

Of course, to put all of this into perspective, you'd want to keep in mind that Romney is actually trailing Newt Gingrich amongst likely Republican voters, while Giuliani is sixteen points ahead of second-place McCain with 33%.

Now Newsweek has decided that America should get to know Rudy.
As Giuliani campaigns to protect the country from disaster, he will have to account for calamities from his own past and of his own making. Twice divorced, he has lived a life more to the tastes of New York tabloid editors than evangelical voters in South Carolina. "I can guarantee you that the majority of Southern Baptists will not vote for Giuliani," says Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. "President Truman said he would never hire someone who cheated on his wife, because if a person breaks his marriage oath he could also break his oath of office."

Mindful of Giuliani's vulnerabilities, his campaign has controlled his exposure to the media tightly. He declined to be interviewed or photographed for this story. But with the Iowa caucuses still 10 months away, Republican primary voters will soon learn all about the Real Rudy that New Yorkers know so well. The former mayor's life story is that of a man with a righteous sense of right and wrong who excels when the world presents him with a crisis, and, when left to his own devices, creates crises for himself.

As a reader used to seeing Newsweek (and parent company the Washington Post) whitewashing Republican politicians, that's pretty heady stuff. Definitely read the rest.

They did leave out a few things. A few euphemisms you may need help with if you're new to this story:
"[Giuliani's first marriage to a second cousin] was later annulled by the Roman Catholic Church on the ground that the couple hadn't gotten a special dispensation required for blood relatives to marry" actually means Giuliani wanted to remarry in the church so he claimed he hadn't known that he and his wife were second cousins at the time of their marriage, we New Yorkers of italian descent being notoriously fuzzy about that kind of thing.

"By the late '90s, he and Hanover were leading largely separate lives" is a nice way of saying that at the time that he started dating Ms. Nathan, who was at the time still married to the father of her child, the Giulianis were attempting to patch up their marriage after his earlier affair with a lady named Lategano, who he later farmed out to a job heading NY tourism she wasn't particularly qualified for after she married someone else. Mrs. Giuliani was unaware that they were leading largely separate lives, because he hadn't told her.

"In 1999 the mayor met Judi Nathan, an attractive East Side divorcée. He was smitten. Over the next year, Nathan and Giuliani spent time together" actually means that she was his date to both the Millennium ball drop and New Years party, as well as marching with him in place of his wife in the St. Patrick's Day parade. This was particularly rude, since a long-running battle between the city and the local gay community about inclusion in the parade hinged on the contention by organizers that the parade was a religious observance. One doesn't generally parade one's mistress at a religious observance for your (and her) children to watch on TV.

"But when the vast majority of Americans look back on 9/11, they will, for the ages, think of Giuliani walking through ash and soot" unless they've heard about the thing with the radios he bought for the firefighters that didn't work and left them trapped in the collapsing building and the emergency response center that was destroyed because he insisted that it be placed in a terrorist target (the World Trade Center. You may have heard of it), because if they have they might think about that instead.

"Kerik's nomination was a disaster from the moment Bush announced it. Reporters inundated the White House with allegations of his seemingly shady behavior, including a sweetheart stock deal, improper use of police resources and connections to Mafia-linked construction moguls" in which "improper use of police resources" means using police to research the book he was writing for Judith Regan (yeah, the OJ lady), and then using an apartment that was donated for the use of police and firefighters who were working at Ground Zero after the WTC attack to carry on extra-marital (his) affairs with both Ms. Regan and one of his subordinates at the police department.

"The New York Daily News published an embarrassingly amateurish memo from his staff laying out potential fund-raising targets" which laid out all his liabilities in great detail and which you can read here, if you're interested, which doesn't bode well for his security credentials

"Giuliani may well be his own worst enemy. His strength in crisis can blur into stubbornness; his resolute conviction sometimes leads to churlishness and a tendency to divide the world into good and evil, with little apparently in between. Voters will have to decide whether his virtues are worth his vices in the White House" means that basically no-one who knows anything about his political history likes him

Still, by far the most astonishing thing Newsweek published about Giuliani this week was this:
Not that Giuliani is a Bush clone. He performed in slashing crime and helping to save New York. But Rudy was often petulant and polarizing. To give just one example (minor in itself, but revealing): he broke diplomatic relations with the Manhattan borough president, Virginia Fields, because she dared to criticize him. (Giuliani was feuding with Harlem politicians at the time.) When, amid a racial crisis in the city, I went to Gracie Mansion to ask him how he could refuse to speak for more than two years to the highest-ranking African-American in town, he scoffed that there was no point.

Of course, such detail about his fitness for the give-and-take of the presidency is too nuanced to be a campaign issue. So is the dictatorial way he dealt with local dissent. Unless his temper explodes on the trail, which is not as likely as his detractors predict, we probably won't squarely face the question of whether America is Ready for Petty. The more that liberal New Yorkers warn Republicans in the rest of the country about Giuliani, the more those Republicans will bond with him. The mayor once described by Jimmy Breslin as "a small man in search of a balcony" has found one, and with lots of people standing in rapt attention below.

Including me. In the days after 9/11, I went with Giuliani five times to Ground Zero and to the funerals of several firefighters. Up close, his compassion and calm command were every bit as impressive as advertised. I fell hard for him and what he was doing for New York and the country. Too hard. When he said it was "cynical" to believe he should leave office at the end of his term—nearly four months after 9/11—I bought his argument for an extension. I was fearful enough to write that he had "practical reasons" for moving in an extraconstitutional direction amid the emergency. When cooler heads than mine prevailed, he eventually backed down on that idea, as well as his insistence on changing the city constitution so he could run for a third term.

Rudy was a good mayor in many ways, but his appeal now is based on fear. When terrorists attack again, we'd want him at the helm for the first few weeks. But after that? Even the most skeptical among us might bend too easily to his will, with frightening consequences. As Giuliani moves toward the big prize, voters will have to look closely at how his history and character could condition his behavior in the White House, where past is always prologue.

That was Jonathan Alter, and he's not only right, he's acknowledging that he was wrong before. Speaking as one of the "cooler heads" he mentions, this is something I never, ever expected to see.

Good on him. Hope it works.

edit: newer, fresher Giuliani here

ahhhs. -- hmmm?
shelleybear From: shelleybear Date: March 5th, 2007 01:39 am (UTC) (linkie thing)
Set up a video recording both in Times Square.
Let the people of New York describe Rudy.
Put it on youtube.
snuh From: snuh Date: March 5th, 2007 10:47 am (UTC) (linkie thing)
I'm glad about your Giuliani posts. I feel he's going to be the GOP's choice in '08. For years, he's been in bed with the very same people as Bush and it'll be business as usual in the Middle East if he wins. He's a real piece of work.
bugsybanana From: bugsybanana Date: March 5th, 2007 03:17 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
Jonathan Alter is a fool. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, I probably would have voted for Giuliani (which I didn't either time he was elected) if he were eligible, but I never took his arguments for an extension as anything but a antidemocratic power play. Do Americans lack the instincts to be automatically skeptical about this sort of thing nowadays? I suppose the demise of the Roman Republic only gets taught in AP history.

BTW, I think the second-cousin thing is a bit spurious. Second cousins can get married in every state. First cousins can get married in New York! I can well believe that Giuliani got his annulment on those grounds as an expediency, but we can always go "so what?" because there's so much other juice to be squeezed about other things.
jmhm From: jmhm Date: March 5th, 2007 04:09 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
oh, hey, not really much of a fan usually, which is why this amazed me so much.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 12th, 2007 08:29 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)

Truman and Eisenhower

I love how Republicans like to quote Truman. In this particular instance, the quote backfires a bit. In the compilation of interviews with his biographer called "Plain Speaking" Truman related a conversation he had with Eisenhower during WWII in which he gave the then general (and later President) a dressing down over his affair with his Army Driver. Of course, consistency and hypocrisy remain meaningless to staunch Republicans for whom immorality (of one's opponents) constitute capital offenses but the exact same behavior by their heroes are only "simple human failings." Thus, this fact will not change any closed minds, but I enjoy these little ironies and like to share them.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 24th, 2007 11:53 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
I found the Alter excerpt terribly amusing. He says Giuliani isn't a Bush clone, but then he goes on to describe Giuliani demonstrating the exact same traits and behaviors that Bush has, lo, these many years. When has Bush ever been anything but petty and polarizing?

So I think we underestimate Giuliani's chances. After all, the scraped-knuckles crowd went big for Bush because he was a petty and polarizing jerk, never mind his considerable liabilities. Think they won't do the same for Giuliani?
jmhm From: jmhm Date: March 25th, 2007 12:10 am (UTC) (linkie thing)
I don't know - I think he may just be a little too vulgar for the delicate plants who gatekeep the world for the little people.

I don't think a guy who went to Manhattan College gets to be vulgar.
ahhhs. -- hmmm?