Giuliani has described himself as a backer of civil unions and is frequently described that way in news reports. But he began distancing himself from civil unions in late April, when his campaign told The New York Sun that New Hampshire’s new law goes too far because it is “the equivalent of marriage,” which he has always opposed for gays.
—Boston Globe, August 13, 2007.
Rudy Giuliani is definitely the “Teflon Don” of the current presidential campaign, in that even as more and more evidence surfaces about how deeply right-wing his politics actually are–or worse, that he’s pandering to gain traction with the GOP base–I still run across a baffling number of people who insist that they’d vote for him because of his socially liberal positions, or because he “cut taxes and stopped crime in NYC,” or because he looked authoritative and in command on 9/11.
Now, a lot of this is just pure mythos. Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice authored a devastating takedown of Giuliani’s supposed leadership during 9/11, citing as an example his insistence on building a command center for future terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center–the site of the infamous previous attack in 1993:
The mayor was so personally focused on the siting and construction of the bunker that the city administrator who oversaw it testified in a subsequent lawsuit that “very senior officials,” specifically including Giuliani, “were involved,” which he said was a major difference between this and other projects. Giuliani’s office had a humidor for cigars and mementos from City Hall, including a fire horn, police hats and fire hats, as well as monogrammed towels in his bathroom. His suite was bulletproofed and he visited it often, even on weekends, bringing his girlfriend Judi Nathan there long before the relationship surfaced. He had his own elevator. Great concern was expressed in writing that the platform in the press room had to be high enough to make sure his head was above the cameras.
In addition to the many instances of Giuliani’s disinterest in his actual work that I’ve cited (from having a campaign director who sells coke to ignoring Iraq Study Group meetings in order to collect hefty paychecks for speaking engagements), Giuliani’s foreign policy expertise and experience seems to be rooted in the idea that George Bush–one of the most unilaterally aggressive and militaristic presidents in our country’s history–just hasn’t pushed hard enough:
“We are all members of the 9/11 generation,” Rudy’s subtle first sentence reads â€” something that tells you quite a lot about what Rudy’s policies and campaign themes are. Rudy goes on to make some startling policy pronouncements â€” such as suggesting that we expand and redefine NATO into a worldwide alliance for pursuing more foreign adventures, and that running New York City as Mayor is very similar to handling the global foreign policy challenges associated with being President.
Meanwhile, his domestic policy platform is tepid at best, with his recently-announced health care proposal basically boiling down to a lot of weaksauce “market-oriented” programs and excuses to call single-payer health care plans “socialized medicine.”
And then there’s the point of Rudy’s notorious philandering and carousing while he was in office, leading to some very bitter and ugly scenarios as he continued to trade laterally for more palatable wives. Giuliani’s latest model, Judith Nathan, apparently is taking full advantage of the high-toned life Giuliani leads:
Today she and Giuliani, when they are not boarding private Gulfstream IV jets to Europe or trying to woo voters, shuttle between a $4 million Hamptons house and a $5 million nine-room Upper East Side apartment near Madison Avenue, its dining room walnut-paneled and crammed with crystal, china, and linen from Scully & Scully. Her annual salary has also improved: $125,000, evidently for helping to write some of the speeches Giuliani likes to give (for which he received $11.7 million between January 2006 and March 2007). This comes as a surprise to at least one of Judith’s acquaintances. Asked if he knew Judith was writing speeches, one former Giuliani aide replied, “Holy cow! God forbid!”
It doesn’t bother me that Giuliani slept around any more than it did Clinton. What bothers me is how ugly and vile his behavior was during and after each episode–how obviously entitled Giuliani felt to get away with something we nearly impeached a President for. That’s a very telling aspect of Giuliani’s personality–the sense that he is somehow innately better than the people he is supposed to serve.
I think, actually, that explains his appeal to people who should, frankly, know better. Giuliani’s image as the tough, commanding leader resonates with those who desperately want an authority figure–a “Daddy”–to tell them what to do and make them feel safe. No matter how fragile the reality is, the image provides comfort to those who desperately want it–and who are looking for an excuse to vote Republican to avoid the horror of (gasp) Hillary Clinton. 🙂
There’s also the “single-issue” voter complex that the progressive blogosphere has railed against for years–the idea that it doesn’t matter how a candidate or elected official votes on everything else, as long as he’s on the right side on your particular issue. In this case, Giuliani’s (until now) progressive stance on gay rights and abortion has softened him sufficiently to make him palatable to middle-of-the-road types who’re socially liberal but conservative on almost everything else. Meanwhile, it’s earned him unending hatred and scorn from the wingnut world– which may explain his gradual but noticeable shift to the right on these issues. Gotta keep the rabid dogs fed, after all.
Images are easy to sell and perceptions are hard to shake. People are essentially simple, and want to boil complex issues down to simple points that they can understand and relate to them. Just as Bush’s “guy you want to have a beer with” demeanor masked the already-evident destructive flaws in his personality until it was too late, Giuliani’s social moderate views and impressive post-9/11 political theater have solidified him in the eyes of many as the LEADER people want. But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that not only is he the absolute opposite of what a leader should be, but that his leadership style echoes and amplifies everything we have come to loathe about the Decider.
And we can’t have another four years of that sort of leadership messing up the country.