Friday, August 10, 2007
A couple of weeks ago, I made mention of the trait Mayor Rudolph Giuilani was most famous for prior to September 11, 2001. That would of course be being a contentious, combative asshole. When he wasn't crossdressing or offering his city as a sanctuary for illegal immigrants - the kind of things that Republican primary voters love to see - he was going to war with anyone and everyone for any reason and, not infrequently, for no reason at all. Most people don't remember this, but before 9/11, most New Yorkers couldn't wait to be rid of Hizzoner
Giuliani's troubles were epitomized by his announcement that he was divorcing his second wife, Donna Hanover, during a news conference. This was appropriate because the divorce was certainly news to her. By comparison, Newt Gingrich is one of history's most dashing gentlemen. At least he showed up at his first wife's hospital bed in person to serve her with divorce papers because she "isn't pretty enough to be First Lady." But Newt's classy, everybody knows that.
During his mayorality, Giuliani not only fired his wife, he fired his first chief of police for being too successful and getting too much credit in the press for it. He would engage in long, needless and abusive arguments with ferret owners on the radio. When his police force wrongly shot a security guard to death, Giuliani illegally leaked the victim's juvenile records to somehow show that was asking for it.
Not only was Rudy Giuliani a prick, he was a proud one. The only time he showed anything resembling human compassion was when thousands of his citizens were vaporized on the morning of 9/11. And from that moment on, everybody but his immediate family forgot what a confrontational cocksucker Rudy really is when he isn't wearing his "America's Mayor" cape.
Yesterday, Giuliani decided to remind everyone in the crassest way possible.
Since it became probable that Rudy would run for the Republican nomination, articles in the leftie journals of record and books began appearing making wildly unfair attacks about New York's preparedness for 9/11 and Giuliani's response to it. In fact, I can't think of a city better prepared at the time for a such a catastrophic attack.
One thing that should be remembered is that while 3,000 people died that morning, there were approximately 50,000 people in the World Trade Centre on 9/11. A surprising number of people actually got out safely. That is an enormous testament to New York City's first responders and as mayor, Giuliani deserves some credit for it.
Furthermore, Mayor Giuliani became the face of American leadership while President Bush was bouncing around the country on Air Force One. It was only during the National Cathedral memorial service and his visit to Ground Zero that Mr. Bush effectively resumed his presidency. For two days, Giuliani was the man the world turned to. Most fair-minded people would agree that Rudy Giuliani has nothing to be ashamed of regarding his performance on 11 September 2001.
The 9/11 attacks on Rudy weren't even gaining any traction. His polling among both Republican primary and general election voters was only going up. The only people with whom those articles and books resonated are people who would never vote for Giuliani - or any Republican - in the first place. If anything, the attacks could have become a net positive among Republicans and independents.
But Giuliani did what he's biologically programmed to do, he over-reacted and said something incredibly dickish.
The former New York mayor struck a nerve with firefighters and police officers when he said Thursday in Cincinnati that he was at ground zero "as often, if not more, than most of the workers."Not only are the cops and firefighters pissed at Rudy, they have every right to be. Even though he never explicitly said so, he wanted to leave the impression that he was lifting concrete and steel with his bare hands, rescuing survivors and recovering the dead. To some extent, every politician does this, but most of them are far more nuanced than that and most will get surrogates to make those claims for them. If there's one thing Americans hate, it's blowhard politicians saying things that just aren't true.
"I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I'm one of them," he told reporters at a Los Angeles Dodgers-Cincinnati Reds baseball game.
Fire and police officials responded angrily, saying Giuliani did not do the same work as those involved in the rescue, recovery and cleanup from the 2001 terrorist attacks, which left many workers sick and injured.
"I have a real problem with that statement," said Battalion Chief John McDonnell, head of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association in New York. "I think he's really grasping and trying to justify his previous attempts to portray himself as the hero of 9/11."
Statements like the one Giuliani made yesterday not only feed the unfair criticisms of him, but they also put the things he did right on 9/11 into play. Prior to yesterday, no other candidate was willing to attack Rudy on 9/11 out of fear for being seen as politicizing that awful day. Giuliani himself politicized it yesterday, he did it directly, and he did it himself.
Rudy said today that he "misspoke," but that's too little and too late. Now he gets to defend himself against the real heroes of Ground Zero and that isn't going to be pretty.
Giuliani's explanation further angered his ground zero critics, prompting several to issue a statement demanding an apology.If any of you knows how you counter-attack against a guy who spent months digging through that rubble for his son, you know a whole lot more about political communications than I do.
"He is such a liar, because the only time he was down there was for photo ops with celebrities, with politicians, with diplomats," said deputy fire chief Jimmy Riches, who spent months digging for his firefighter son.
"On 9/11 all he did was run. He got that soot on him, and I don't think he's taken a shower since."
With his prickish defensiveness and penchant for exaggeration, Giuliani may have created thousands of enemies yesterday and started a debate that he can't possibly win. It's one thing to have Democratic operatives and Michael Moore challenge the Mayor on 9/11. It is quite another to have cops and fire fighters who spent a year on the pile doing so. Intellectually, he probably knew that but Rudy just couldn't help himself.
For the last six years there have been two Rudys - a pre-9/11 Rudy and a post 9/11 one. The pre-9/11 Rudy is thin-skinned in ways that would shock even Richard Nixon. So much so that he created enemies when he didn't have to and antagonized people merely for the sake of doing so. Republicans seem to have forgotten that Giuliani endorsed Mario Cuomo's re-election as governor of New York in 1994 because he thought the party was being mean to him. George Pataki won that race and he - and the national Republican Party - hated Giuliani for years afterward.
Rudy Giuliani did two politically unforgiveable things yesterday. First, he tarnished his one unimpeachable positive. Second, he resurrected pre-9/11 Rudy. Now that this has happened everything about Giuliani is on the table. And you'll soon see other Republicans bringing it to him. I can't see a way Rudy wins under those circumstances. I can now - barring another major terrorist attack - predict he'll be out of the race by the end of January.
I'll never understand why he didn't just sit back and let Mitt Romney have the title for the biggest jerk-off statement of the week.
Easy Lisening Recommendation of the Day: Suicide Room By: Dan Bern From: Breathe
Labels: Fun With Politics