Tuesday, September 4, 2007

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Your Giuliani observation of the day

Take this for what you will:

Over the past month, I've had at least two dozen conversations with various people about Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign. A lot of these people are Democrats, but there were a healthy number of Republicans and independents as well. These are all smart observers of politics who generally do not make knee-jerk assessments. The one common denominator was that, at some point, all of these people had lived in the New York City area while Rudy was mayor.

What is astonishing is that, despite the fact that this collection of individuals would likely disagree about pretty much everything, there was an airtight conensus about one and only one point:

A Giuliani presidency would be an unmitigated disaster for the United States.
That is all.

UPDATE: Commenters have reasonably asked the "why?" question. For some answers from New Yorkers, click here and here.

posted by Dan on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM


I live in NYC, remember the days NYers declared Rudy the Hilter. Of course, this was after he cleaned up the miserable rot of crime ridden life so many NYers complained they were suffering under. Rudy was Hilter after he cleaned up the liberal crap hole called the Big Apple yet when 9/11/2001 NYers looked upon him as their hero.

That love lasted about as long as their love lasted after he cleaned up the crime.

NYers want their 1970's times-square sleeze without the suffering.

That said, what concerns me about a Guiliani nomination is that in the name political conquest, Rudy's 'friends' will all be coming out of the closet to expose whatever friendship secrets he may have shared with his 'friends.'

One thing about the liberal NYers, they will stab their own mothers in the back just to achieve an iota of political power.

posted by: syn on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

Is there a consensus reason why they think it will be a disaster?

posted by: David Pinto on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

wow! that is some prediction. they must have based it on giuliani's disastrous tenure in nyc.

now, if only those "smart observers" would suggest who we should vote for, i and other un-smart plebes could get back to our budweiser & wwf.

posted by: Anuj on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

The repuration Giuliani has here in Atlanta is:

1. He got the crime out of New York;

2. He was tough after 9/11;

3. He's had an awful lot of wives, mistresses and stuff; but

3. We can forgive him all those wives and that social liberal stuff because of 1 and 2.

Could you elaborate on why all the experts think that gives us an unmitigated disaster as prez? (I did read the foreign policy article, and I have some inklings of the potential problems.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

It probably has something to do with his ridiculous foreign policy, as articulated in Foreign Affairs. When a major task of the next administration will be recalibrating US FP, as well as handling the crisis in education and healthcare, "being tough after 9/11" and "getting the crime out of NYC" (which is itself a debateable assertion) don't really speak to a candidate's usefulness as President.

And please, don't call me a liberal pansy. My concern with these issues is not ideological, but rather one born out of a desire to continue US dominance internationally. It's amazing to see how the Bush Administration has squandered the so-called "unipolar moment." RG is on track to continue these mistakes.

posted by: Troll on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

Does anyone realize that NYC is absolutely nothing like the rest of the country? Not in the sense of good or bad, just seriously different.

So whatever Rudy did in NYC may not recommend him for any other office.

(Love to visit, couldn't live there).

The GOP field is absolutely a depressing mess.

posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

Well, I didn't live in NY for the relevant time, but:

Rudy is thin-skinned and hot tempered--not a good combo.

Rudy's anti-crime efforts involved significant abuses by the police, including significant discrimination against minorities.

Rudy vetoed the recommendations of the experts and decided to put the emergency command center in the World Trade Center complex, which was known as a likely target ...

But I am not sure whether he would be a worse president than Hilary (and I am a democrat).

posted by: Steve Saideman on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

Disaster? Compared to what? Higher taxes, anti-trade legislation and nationalized health care under the dems?

posted by: JohnF on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

Here's someone who explains why not Giuliani:


And, Rustbelt -- speaking of mayors that never should have been given a chance at any other office, EVER, what's the deal with Dennis Kucinich?

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

As a life-long New Yorker, I can attest that Mr. Giuliani's tenure as mayor of N.Y.C. raises very serious concerns about him becoming President. Specifically, his record on civil rights and basic diplomacy. In order:

- The Giuliani Administration's civil rights violations are legendary and legion. How much of this can be attributed to Mr. Giuliani personally is up to debate, but it is uncontested that there was, at least, a very callous and worrisome lack of respect for minority rights. People of color still speak of "death squads," and we are not speaking metaphorically. These allegations might not be believed (but I recommend that you research the history of the South Bronx Task Force for yourself), but they should sound alarm bells if one is already concerned about civil liberties being infringed upon by the Executive branch.

- Mr. Giuliani never met a diplomat that he didn't piss off, somehow. Many people can appreciate his bluster and wit (as a New Yorker, I always grudgingly liked his cracks about New Jersey), but a Mayor who insults V.I.P.s is a very different thing than a President who does. One should be cautious about voting for a man who seems guaranteed to offend our allies and international associates. The U.S.A. has lost enough soft power as it is!

And, finally, the man's personal life is atrocious. He cheated on his (2nd) wife in the emergency command center, and then announced his affair in a surprise press conference! I mean . . . come on!

posted by: S.G.E.W. on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

If the claim is being made that Rudy is more authoritarian than Hillary, then, I'm sorry, that just isn't true.

If the claim is being made, Matthew Yglesias-style, that Hillary will force people to do things that upper-middle-class cosmopolitans think people should be forced to do (e.g., quit smoking), whereas Rudy will force people to do things that upper-middle-class cosmopolitans don't think people should be forced to do (e.g., work for a living), then that is probably true.

posted by: y81 on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

What kind of health insurance do you have? Have you had to have any kind of major surgery lately? Or even relatively minor procedures?

posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

My concern with these issues is not ideological, but rather one born out of a desire to continue US dominance internationally.

Well, as a non-Yank who thinks U.S. dominance is becoming antithecal to democracy and freedom internationally (all power corrupts), go Rudy. But not so good for you guys... And not so good for the innocents of whatever impoverished nations he chooses to invade.

Nationalized Health Insurance, JohnF, the care thing is still between you and your Doc (actually moreso than your guys' odd and distinctly unfree system of having the HMO thrusting itself aggressively into the relationship). Do try and be accurate with your characterizations or are you just up for spouting slogans? Higher taxes for those who make much use of input from the commons but want all the profit to be private? You betcha. For the average Joe, not so much.

posted by: snicker-snack on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

I've been living in New York continuously for 27 years now, but I've been following Rudy since the early '80's when I worked for a lecture agency that represented Bob Leuci, the subject of the film, Prince of the City. Giuliani figured prominently in the story.

I remember when Rudy was number 3 at DOJ, he flew to Haiti, spent a day there with Baby Doc Duvalier and came back testifying before Congress that there was no repression in Haiti as Baby Doc said so. Perhaps a day with the Tontons Macoute might have convinced him otherwise. Somehow I doubt it.

His appointments were pathetic and motivated more by personal loyalty than by competence. Think Bernard Kerik was sui generis? Google Russell Harding and Giuliani. Russell Harding is the son of Rudy's political mentor, Ray Harding and was appointed by Rudy to the position of President of the Housing Development Corporation, a $110,000/year job for a college dropout.

Harding is now in the slammer for among other things, stealing more than $400,000 from the housing agency he once headed, as well as to possessing a disc, imported from Belgium, filled with pornographic images of children.

posted by: Randy Paul on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

I do not want Hilary to be president. However this point about Giuliani's authoritarian ways (such as banning ferrets as pets?) has nothing to do with Hilary.

I am an ardent Republican who is just confused why many supporters desire to make the Democrats worse than us rather than the Republicans better than the Democrats. If you think Giuliani is a good candidate, then state why. If you think Giuliani's best trait is that he is better than Hilary Clinton, then vote for Obama or Edwards. But don't defend one candidate solely by bringing up unsubstantiated claims about other who weren't even part of the question.

posted by: Bill Springer on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]


Until fairly recently, US military and economic preponderance/dominance has had a rather calming effect on international affairs. Regardless of my national allegiance, I'd rather have the US as the preponderant power than balanced multipolarity, or, put another way, I'd rather have the world 1963-present than the world 1914-1963.

posted by: Troll on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

Dan, Is this Pauline Kael syndrome? Just out of curiosity, are these "smart" people, say, salesmen in the Bronx, or are they Manhattan intellectuals. You know, as in the Manhattan borough that Giuliani lost when he swept to a landslide re-election. As in the Manhattan intellectuals who call Al Sharpton a civil rights advocate, who thought John Lindsay was a serious mayor, and who went for Ruth Messinger over Giuliani in 1997, the Ruth Messinger who thought NYC need more rent control. Just wondering.

posted by: William Sjostrom on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

Mr. Sjostrom,

Your swweping generalizations notwithstanding, I live in Queens and I can assure you that Giuliani has precious little favorable following here.

posted by: Randy Paul on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

Until fairly recently, US military and economic preponderance/dominance has had a rather calming effect on international affairs.

It has. But that moment's passed. There is nothing intrinsic in the nature of Americans that has had the U.S. act in a relatively benevolent manner to now; benevolence as such cannot be taken as a given. The U.S. is now following the path of all powers. It is no longer to be trusted.

Regardless of my national allegiance, I'd rather have the US as the preponderant power than balanced multipolarity

I wouldn't. No longer. Regardless of which party is in power. And perhaps you shouldn't presume to speak for us non-Americans if allegiance to the States is your sole experience (I tend to see the nation state as a for-the-time-being powerful but ultimately temporary historical construct)

And good luck in winning back your democracy. At the moment I see strikingly unequal access to the polls, strikingly unequal access to the media and, most stunning of stunning, that over 30% of your votes can no longer be verified (and that recent events to make them verifiable have been gutted). There is nothing given in the nature of Americans either that says you will/can retain your democracy. The complacency on the part of Americans in the face of what's been happening here too does not inspire faith or trust in a unipolar American world. I would like to be surprised by an American democratic reawakending. I won't hold my breath. I think your elites have all opted for the path of empire and you are too weak of a democracy to rein them in.

posted by: snicker-snack on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

An “unmitigated disaster” suggests an impending systemic failure substantially worse than the status quo in every discernable situation. Whether or not something will be an “unmitigated disaster” is probably unknowable. Obviously, the people that make this predictions have something to gain by being right. What does everyone else get if they happen to be wrong?

posted by: Pedantic on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

Keep in mind that what is a "civil-rights violation" to Al Sharpton is a "crackdown which Sharpton calls a civil-rights violation" to most of the rest of the country. Boo hoo, the enablers of thugs and hoodlums are whining! That is a feature, not a bug.

Certain genders and ethnic groups do, when left unguarded, commit more crimes and more violent crimes per capita than certain others.

Lastly, I'm not interested in democracy. What is so magical about democracy? Democracy just means the thugs can vote to steal from me rather than try it themselves. If Iraq has taught me anything it is that, when the proportion of those who sympathise with thugs reached a critical point, democracy doesn't work. I'm put that point at about 30% and I will state categorically that certain cities have long ago passed that point. New York was one such city under Dinkins; and then there is Baghdad and (I'd argue) Houston.

posted by: Houstoner on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

Lastly, I'm not interested in democracy.

Thanks for your honesty...

It is this belief in authoritarianism that has become the core of the Republican party.

And here is why your allies are edging away. Why we no longer trust your power. Why you will grow weaker or in resorting increasingly to the crude hammer of military power why you will beome a nation to be reviled. Giuliani would, like Bush. hasten the process of your decline. Go Rudy!

Though my first choice would still be for you to rediscover and reclaim your founding principles. Become a country we could stand with again.

posted by: snicker-snack on 09.04.07 at 08:03 AM [permalink]

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