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March 06, 2007

The dark side of Rudy Giuliani

We have promoted the presidential candidacy of Rudy Giuliani since before he actually announced, not only for his clarity on an aggressive response to terrorism, but for his understanding of civic values.

We are part of a groundswell of enthusiasm for the former NYC mayor. Giuliani has been running away with GOP straw polls since 2004. After that election, Hugh Hewitt reported conducting informal polls among social conservative voters, and being surprised that Giuliani again swept the field.

I have been addressing scores of audiences for two years on the subject of 2008, most of them full of social conservatives, many of them self-described evangelicals . . . Not only does Rudy get the nod in audience polling when matched in a race against Hillary, he is often the first choice of large majorities of these highly motivated "base" voters. (He has not failed to win one of these straw polls since the collapse of Allen.)

So social conservatives like Rudy. But - conventional wisdom says - that must be just because his response to 9-11 made him "America's Mayor." It must be that they don't know about his ugly divorces, his gay friends, his self-aggrandizement, his temper, his support for gun control and legal abortion, his estranged family. And as they learn more about "the real Rudy," they will drop him like a hot potato.

And now the Rudy backlash has begun. And that's okay.

Giuliani burst out of the gate as the strong horse - last week he made an impressive showing at CPAC, Ground Zero of conservate activism - but as in any horse race longer than a sprint, he doesn't have to lead the pack every minute. And he is savvy enough to get that. Voters have over a year to chew on every candidate's personality and record, and to figure out their "must haves" and "can live withs" and dealbreakers. Let's air out the dirty laundry now and give the electorate plenty of time to examine it. I like reading blog comment threads - often they give you a better sense of the zeitgeist than the post they comment on - and I already see evangelicals and 2nd Amendment absolutists arguing about him on blog after blog.

So to help you explore the dark side of Rudy Giuliani, here is a panorama of his faults:

David Freddoso warns:

. . . before they back the most liberal man in the field, conservatives should be aware that Rudy’s failure to toe the party line is only one of his liabilities, and it doesn’t necessarily make him electable. If Giuliani’s stances on babies, guns, and gay marriage do not sink him in the Republican primaries, he will probably suffer in a general election campaign from the fact that there is so much evidence in the public record that he is a total jerk.
Freddoso then goes on to give many examples, and this New York Magazine article further elaborates the sour response of many New Yorkers to Rudy's enthusiastic reception by the rest of the country. But if you take issue with its summary of the post-9-11 response to terrorism, you might take the article's slant with a grain of salt.
Post-9/11 events have only made Giuliani more exalted. The more the war on terror bogs down, the better he looks. September 11 has spawned two wars, cost us 6,000 American lives here and abroad, and produced precious few heroes. Those we got wilted under scrutiny. Donald Rumsfeld turned out to be a nut job, Jessica Lynch may or may not have actually needed to be rescued, and Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire. There have been no Pattons, no MacArthurs, no Eisenhowers. There is only Rudy.

Outside of New York, there is a still-unsatisfied appetite for revenge (that hunger seems to get stronger, strangely enough, the farther one gets from ground zero). Bin Laden is still at large. Saddam Hussein, it’s now tragically clear, had nothing to do with the terror attacks, however awful his other transgressions were. People seem to believe—wish?—that Rudy can somehow bring us justice. Who else could at this point?

Typical myopic and condescending Manhattan mischaracterization of the war, and misunderstanding of how the rest of the country thinks.

The Financial Times says Giuliani didn't manage NYC as wonderfully as you think:

Instead of taking on new challenges after his re-election in 1997, he dedicated his second term to vanquishing his remaining enemies. Fran Reiter, who served as a deputy mayor under Mr Giuliani, describes him as depressed and directionless after being sworn in for the second time. "He can get mired in the petty stuff," Ms Reiter says. "He doesn't suffer political opponents well and there are times when he doesn't compromise well."

. . . . Mr Giuliani's weaknesses as a manager have become more evident in the light of his successor. Michael Bloomberg has neither a whim of steel nor a populist bone in his body. Arriving in 2002 at a City Hall that had no e-mail system and no computerised payroll, he quietly cleaned up a mess of no-bid contracts without faulting his predecessor. He and Ray Kelly, his police commissioner, have made continued gains against crime without becoming obsessed with press clippings. Above all, Mr Bloomberg has taken on the big problems Mr Giuliani never faced.

Mr Giuliani never wanted responsibility for the city's troubled schools; Mr Bloomberg has taken charge of them and engineered a massive overhaul. Mr Giuliani lost interest in curtailing the growth of city government and left behind a fiscal catastrophe; Mr Bloomberg took the unpopular step of raising taxes and has created a budget surplus.

Mr Bloomberg's style is less theatrical than Mr Giuliani's, but as a negotiator, he is probably tougher. Last winter, Mr Bloomberg took a paralysing transit strike and sent the union's chief to jail, rather than cave in to demands that the city could not afford. Today, the local economy is booming, construction is ubiquitous and, in spite of 9/11, New York has become a more attractive business destination than ever.

Admittedly, New York politics are duller without the constant racial tension, operatic feuds and mass protests. When the police shoot a black man in error, Mr Bloomberg invites the grandstanding Al Sharpton in to talk, instead of provoking him to demonstrate on the steps of City Hall. Post-Giuliani New York is less like a Spike Lee movie, but would make a superior business school case study.

Paul Mirengoff's "conservative cousin from New York" agrees.
George Will introducing Rudy to the audience gave him credit for everything good that had happened in New York over the last 15 years. Someone once said that if you told Rudy Giuliani about a beautiful morning sunrise, he would reply "Thank you very much."

In reality the crime rate declined by a higher percentage during the last two years of the Dinkins administration than it did during Rudy's tenure. Ray Kelly, Dinkins Police Commissioner, introduced many of the reforms for which Rudy takes credit. Recognizing the good job done by Kelly, he was reappointed to head the Police Department by Mike Bloomberg. Much of the drop in crime was probably due to the changing demographics of New York and the ending of the crack epidemic. Mayoral policies had little or nothing to do with this.

Where Rudy deserves high marks is for his handling of the economy. In sharp contrast to his predecessor, he lowered taxes and took a pro-business stance. He also did try to curb the power of municipal unions with mixed results.

Newsweek's thesis is that Giuliani is
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.

. . . His city delivered from strife, Giuliani went, in John Quincy Adams's phrase, in search of monsters to destroy. Sometimes the mayor created them when a lot of people didn't think they really existed. Where to begin? First, there was the New York Magazine ad campaign in which the magazine called itself "possibly the only good thing in New York Rudy hasn't taken credit for." Giuliani banned the ad from city buses. . . . Then there was the risqué Brooklyn Museum exhibit that included a portrait of the Virgin Mary that the artist had stained with a clump of elephant dung. . . . Giuliani went to war in a way even some of his friends found rhetorically extreme. Outraged, he responded as though the museum was poised to destroy Christendom. "You don't have a right to government subsidy for desecrating someone else's religion," the mayor said. Some old supporters wondered if he'd lost his sense of proportion. "It was almost as if he became so enamored of his press," says Floyd Flake, a former Democratic congressman from Queens who supported Giuliani in 1993, "that he had to be solving something, even if there wasn't any problem to solve."

The article also goes into detail about Giuliani's public divorce from Donna Hanover and the Bernie Kerik fiasco.

Kate O'Beirne wonders if Giuliani's personal life and socially liberal positions will alienate the crucial Catholic voting bloc.

In his 2004 race against John Kerry, the first Catholic nominee since 1960, George Bush won a majority of Catholic voters by a margin of five points - and carried Catholics who attend services weekly by 13 points. Catholics made up 27% of the electorate in 2004, and are the dominant religion in two-thirds of the presidential battleground states.

Giuliani will need those votes to win. In presidential races over the past 50 years, Republicans have repeatedly been elected thanks largely to Southerners and Catholics who abandoned their ancestral political affiliations. Many of the Catholics who were once Reagan Democrats have become reliable Republican voters in reaction to the excesses of a cultural left that is firmly rooted in the base of the modern Democratic Party.

Well, that's a lot to chew on, isn't it?

I'll let Rudy have the last word - here's his CPAC speech and here's an interview with Hugh Hewitt.

Judith | 03/06/07 at 07:00 AM | Categories: - GOTV '06 to '08

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Blogs which link to The dark side of Rudy Giuliani:

» Rudy puts his foot in it from Kesher Talk
Although we are supporting Rudy Giuliani for POTUS, we are not blind to his less-than-sterling qualities. And it doesn't bother us when others are made aware of his less-than-sterling qualities, especially when some of those can be seen as advantages... [Read More]

Tracked on March 30, 2007 06:35 PM


Live From New York: The Prodigal Son, By William Tucker in The American Spectator Published on 3/6/2007

The other night I was having dinner with two friends in an Upper West Side restaurant when an extraordinarily loud group of about a dozen people settled into the next table.

Before we knew what had happened, one man had sat down at our table and started filling out a questionnaire. I was about to ask him to leave when the female of our group, being more conciliatory, asked him what he was doing. Turns out it was the local Democratic club and he was filling out a ballot on who he liked for President.

This kicked off a political discussion and before long the subject of Rudy Giuliani came up. Our uninvited guest was scornful. "Giuliani was the worst mayor we've had in the last fifty years," he announced.


Robert Schwartz | March 6, 2007 01:03 PM

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