There’s a new growth industry on the Internet. It’s based on Rudy Giuliani’s record – or, to be more accurate, his lies. Type that into your search engine and you’ll have your choice of sites. And they have plenty to sell.
Everyone is always talking about what a polarizing figure Hillary Clinton is. But the truth is, the more people get to know her, the better they like her. The more they see her in action, the less they care about attacks based on 30-year-old land deals and billing records from her old law firm.
The more polarizing figure in this race may turn out to be Rudy Giuliani, both within his own party and in the electorate as a whole.
The left wing of the Democratic Party did not start out this campaign enthralled with Hillary. Hardly. The first Hillary Clinton event I went to in Los Angeles featured picketers outside wearing pink, complaining that she hadn’t taken a tough enough stance on the war. Prochoice women were annoyed at her for sounding too accommodating in her language about abortion. Civil libertarians thought she had gone too far in supporting a law of questionable constitutionality to prohibit flag burning.
Tell me the last time you heard anyone on the left raising any of those issues.
She not only went to the MoveOn.org convention, she stole the show by proving to them that she is what she is: a much more pleasant, good-humored, loose person than anyone imagines they’re about to meet. She has certainly courted the left in this campaign, but she hasn’t changed any of her positions to do so. The campaign has been, and will almost certainly continue to be, a process in which the real Hillary wins voters once put off by the caricature they thought she was.
Not so for Rudy Giuliani. Rudy was not a unifying force when he was mayor of New York. Yes, he cleaned up the streets (actually, his first police commissioner, Bill Bratton, did much of that and ended up at odds with Rudy, who wanted all the credit; his later police commissioner, Bernard Kerik, is now, to put it delicately, a convicted criminal). But had it not been for 9/11, Rudy would have left office in a beleaguered state, blamed by minorities for his open hostility to charges of police brutality even of the most brutal sort, by others for his crude mistreatment of his own wife, his neverending arrogance and his inability to keep his big mouth shut.
As for his tenure as United States Attorney, before that, ask any Wall Streeter and they’ll remind you of the way Rudy and his team would orchestrate showoff arrests, leading people away in handcuffs in front of cameras, many of whom were ultimately never charged with a crime, much less convicted of one. The reason the Democrats recruited Hillary to run against Rudy for Senate in 2000 is because they believed she could beat him.
Of course, the new Rudy is America’s Mayor, the man who was made by 9/11. His answer to all the conservatives who hate his position on social issues: terrorism, terrorism, terrorism. But if you check out some of the “Rudy” sites, it’s a bit like Lt. Kerry reporting for duty. The notion that John Kerry would be elected president based on his controversial role with respect to Vietnam seems as shortsighted in retrospect as the idea that 9/11 will be the making of Rudy Giuliani. In the end, Vietnam undid Kerry, and 9/11 has the potential to do the same to Giuliani.
I don’t want to give you chapter and verse, since it’s so readily available and done better by others, but here’s the short version. In the wake of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing by Islamist terrorists, the new mayor of New York spent no time or energy on the subject of terrorism in either the policing or the emergency preparedness arenas. Notwithstanding the obvious fact that the Trade Center towers were a target, he sited the emergency response office right there. He failed to provide the people who were putting their lives on the line with the kind of equipment they would need in an emergency, which left firefighters op- erating with outdated radios that would not allow communication with police. And even in the aftermath, he was more concerned with getting his picture taken at Ground Zero than with the safety of the workers at the site. According to The New York Times’ Gail Collins, Giuliani toured Ground Zero 41 times during his final months as mayor, but never once wore serious protective gear, setting exactly the wrong example for workers even though the city had been warned about the health hazards.
Imagine ads by a new generation of 9/11 orphans – Rudy’s Kids. They would make the Swift Boat guys look tame. And make no mistake: If he wins the nomination, they will come.
©2007 Creators Syndicate Inc.