|When Rudolph Giuliani awoke on the morning of September 11, 2001, his political career was in the toilet. Nearing the end of his second term as mayor of New York City, a tenure marred by conflict and personal scandal, his approval rating was in the dismal 30th percentile, and he was term-limited from running again. He dropped out of a 2000 Senate race against Hillary Rodham Clinton after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Besides, no New York City mayor had gone on to higher office since 1868. Newsweek referred to pre-9/11 Rudy as “unpopular” and “irrelevant.”|
New York magazine reported that on the morning of September 11, while breakfasting with Bill Simon, who was considering a 2002 gubernatorial bid in California, Giuliani told him, “I could endorse your opponent. That might help you more.”
What a difference a day can make.
Later that day, the American public was introduced to Giuliani, covered in soot, addressing his city with a strength and poise not lacking the emotional weight of the tragedy. He was on the scene, not holed up in a bunker, and he commanded from the streets, just as at-risk as the people he was charged to serve. Holding impromptu press conferences amongst falling buildings and chaos, he displayed the valor of a true leader. That day, even New Yorkers who had long called their mayor a “fascist” and “Adolph Giuliani” loved Rudy.
By the end of the day, when Giuliani retired to a friend’s apartment where he’d been staying since separating from his second wife, he had transformed, in image at least, into “Rudy the Rock” and “America’s Mayor.” One has to wonder if his presidential hopes were rekindled as he read Winston Churchill before falling asleep.
Today, Giuliani is the front-runner of the GOP’s presidential primaries. In a recent CNN poll, Arizona Senator John McCain trails Giuliani by more than 10 points. As improbable as it may seem that Republicans would nominate a pro-choice, anti-gun, pro-gay-rights divorcee from the Northeast, they just might. Those hot-button social issues are not as hot with the conservative base in a post-9/11 world; all of the GOP’s front-runners — including McCain and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney — are perceived as moderate on social issues. America’s Mayor may very well be America’s next president.
That concept is very difficult for many New Yorkers to grasp. After living under Giuliani’s tyranny for eight years, many are concerned that America doesn’t know the real Rudy, the “9/10 Rudy,” as he’s been dubbed.
“Giuliani was a frustrated and not very popular mayor on September 10, 2001,” Slate editor Jacob Weisberg writes. “Today, most New Yorkers do see him as a hero, but also a self-sabotaging, thin-skinned bully. To put it more bluntly, we know he’s a bit of a dictator.”
Before we march America’s Mayor into the highest office in the land, perhaps blinded by the shimmer of 9/11 heroism, it’s a good idea to know the 9/10 Rudy as New Yorkers do, because as president, he could do for Colorado, and the rest of the country, what he did for New York City — for better or worse.
RUDY WAS HEROIC AMIDST A MESS HE HELPED TO CREATE
To suggest that Rudy Giuliani in any way caused the events of 9/11 would be a ridiculous implication. Even suspicions that he had prior knowledge of the terrorist plots are paranoiac conspiracy theories at best. But the fact remains that, as mayor, Giuliani made decisions and ignored issues that tragically complicated the city’s ability to respond to the attacks.
Giuliani told Time magazine in its 2001 “Person of the Year” profile that he “assumed from the time I came into office that New York City would be the subject of a terrorist attack,” largely because the World Trade Center was attacked in 1993. So in 1996 he established the Office of Emergency Management to coordinate rescue efforts, especially to “ease the long-standing disaster-scene turf battle between police and fire.” He even built a $13 million emergency command center for OEM and ran drills. But, stubbornly ignoring overwhelming advice against it, he built the command center on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center, which fell.
The image of a heroic Rudy leading from the debris-covered streets that’s been ingrained in minds all over the world is a result of that short-sightedness: The command center, or “Rudy’s Bunker,” as New Yorkers called it, was never used on September 11.
Without a command center, and with shoddy communication equipment, the fire department and police could not adequately coordinate with each other or with other rescue units. Plus, Giuliani lead the top brass away from their makeshift command center. Police knew the towers were going to fall as firemen rushed in, resulting in the deaths of 343 firefighters.
9/11 Commission member John F. Lehman called the city’s “command and control and communications…not worthy of the Boy Scouts, let alone this great city.” Still, in his book Leadership, Giuliani calls the OEM “one of the most important decisions I made.”
GIULIANI PUT THE REHABILITATION OF COMMERCE ABOVE SAFETY AND MOURNING
To a congressional panel in late June, former Environmental Protection Agency head Christine Todd Whitman addressed accusations that she withheld information from city workers and volunteers on the dangers of the dust at Ground Zero and Lower Manhattan for political reasons: to get the New York Stock Exchange up and running, as mandated by the White House.
Since 9/11, an ever-increasing number of people have suffered from chronic respiratory disease and rare forms of cancer believed to be the result of exposure to the toxic dust at Ground Zero. Mount Sinai Medical Center released a study last September showing 70 percent of the 9,500 World Trade Center responders who were studied had a new or worsened respiratory symptom. Additionally, tens of thousands of people are thought to be affected.
Since cleanup was a city-run operation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, had no jurisdiction that allowed them to require workers to wear respirators, as it did at the Pentagon cleanup. Whitman could have wrangled control of the scene, but Giuliani was directly in charge of mandating respirator use. He didn’t.
In the weeks following 9/11, Giuliani quickly turned coat from mourning to moving on. After an October memorial, he removed from the site 75 percent of the firefighters still searching for human remains at Ground Zero, and installed a “scoop and dump” operation using heavy equipment, moving everything to a Staten Island landfill. Firefighters rose in anger. Bodies were found in the landfill. In response to the firefighters’ protest, Giuliani sent in the cops, who physically fought and arrested firemen. Giuliani then ordered the arrest of two fire-union leaders, one of whom called Giuliani a “fascist.”
“The mayor fails to realize that New York is not a dictatorship,” a Uniformed Firefighters Association statement read. “The message being sent from City Hall is that if you don’t agree with this administration, we will get you.”
A federal lawsuit brought by a group of families charges “that the city negligently dumped body parts and other human remains from Ground Zero in Fresh Kills garbage facility on Staten Island.”
The International Association of Fire Fighters plans to take aim at Giuliani’s presidential campaign. Harold A. Schaitberger, the union’s president has said, “Our disdain for him is not about issues or a disputed contract, it is about a visceral, personal affront to the fallen.”
GIULIANI PARTNERS CLAIMS SHADY ASSOCIATIONS
By 9/11, New York City mayoral primaries were in full swing, but the primary election was delayed as a result of the attacks. Drawing further comparisons to a banana-republic dictator, Giuliani lobbied to circumvent the New York Constitution in order to reign a third term. His argument: New York needed him more than ever, although just one percent of New Yorkers were displaced by the attacks and the city never truly “shut down.” When the third term didn’t fly, Giuliani sought an additional three months. No dice.
Meanwhile, he was organizing Giuliani Partners, a security consulting company. In the spirit of the true cronyism he is known for, Giuliani enlisted his close associates. One of them was Bernard Kerik. Starting out as a driver for Giuliani before advancing to commissioner of police — replacing a commissioner who was allegedly fired for taking too much credit for the decrease in crime rates — Kerik was recommended by Giuliani to serve as head of Homeland Security. But during the vetting process for that position, Kerik’s shady dealings became apparent. Kerik later pled guilty to accepting bribes and loans from developers with mob ties. Many speculate Kerik is “mobbed up,” an interesting associate for Giuliani, a man who built his reputation prosecuting mob leaders, Wall Street swindlers and corrupt cops.
Along with Kerik, Alan Placa, a former Catholic priest excommunicated from the church for accusations of sexual abuse as well as covering up the abuse of other priests, is a partner at Giuliani Partners. Recently, Giuliani stated that Placa will not be fired as a result of the coverups. Petty in comparison but still worth noting is Pasquale J. D’Amuro, a former FBI administrator and Giuliani Partners partner who has admitted to stealing artifacts from Ground Zero.
While Giuliani refuses to talk about his clients, the work he does for them, or the cash he’s made with Giuliani Partners, a Washington Post exposé details how Giuliani has collected millions using his connections and 9/11 reputation to attract shady clientele, such as the makers of OxyContin, who he personally represented, and a client who has admitted to smuggling kilos of cocaine from Columbia to Florida on a private jet.
As mayor, Giuliani was a well-off public servant. As globetrotting consultant and famed 9/11 hero, he’s worth tens of millions of dollars.
GIULIANI RID NEW YORK OF CRIME — AND FERRETS — WITH AN IRON FIST
“Freedom” is so closely connected with 9/11that the new towers being erected are named after the principle. Here is how America’s Mayor views freedom:
“Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.”
If Americans west of the Hudson River know anything about Giuliani beyond 9/11 heroism, it’s that he “cleaned up New York,” which he genuinely did. New York feels, and is, significantly safer since Giuliani’s reign. What New Yorkers know is that cleanup came at a cost: Times Square became Disneyland. Homeless were arrested and children taken from parents. Jaywalkers were strip-searched. Ferrets were banned. The list is long.
Giuliani’s approach to crime, which lowered the rate by 60 percent, is known as the “broken window” concept: One broken window in a building leads to more. So, if a neighborhood is willing to tolerate graffiti, jaywalking, beer drinking on stoops, turnstile jumpers, etc., then murder, crack dealing, robbery and other, more serious crimes will ensue. But what followed was an extreme zero-tolerance policy, resulting in almost 70,000 people suing the city for police abuses, like strip-searching jaywalkers.
“If I had to sum it up in a few minutes, I would say he’s a control freak, and the control is over your life,” says Ed Koch, former U.S. congressman and two-term mayor of New York. Koch supported Giuliani during his two mayoral campaigns, but the two had a notorious falling out over policy. Koch has since authored Giuliani: Nasty Man.
During Giuliani’s term, police wore T-shirts with intimidating statements, such as the Hemmingway quote, “There is no hunting like the hunting of man.”
But most of the crime reduction was achieved during his first term, when the economy was fairing well. By the second term, Giuliani’s agenda became bizarre. He outlawed ferrets and banned squeegee men, panhandlers who move through stopped or slowed traffic soliciting to wash car windows for change. He built massive networks to track graffiti artists. He lined streets with formidable barricades to prevent jaywalking.
“For Rudy, governing New York was conquering New York,” Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban planning at New York University, told Newsweek. “He thrived on confrontation.”
Giuliani’s zero-tolerance “quality-of-life crackdown,” which allowed for anyone to be stopped and patted down, raised the ire of even the police.
James Savage, then-president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, told Daily News, “If we don’t strike a balance between aggressive enforcement and common sense, it becomes a blueprint for a police state and tyranny.”
LIKE HIM BECAUSE HE’S TOUGH? TRY MEAN
Rudy Giuliani’s temperament is well known in New York. He’s quick to anger, an egomaniac, very stubborn, throws tantrums and is generally, well, mean.
Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter: “His ridiculously thin skin and mile-wide mean streak were not allegations made by whiners and political opponents. They were traits widely known to his supporters.”
Giuliani was on a talk show when a man called to contest his ban on ferrets. He told the woman, among other things, that her love of ferrets meant there was “something deranged” about her. “The excessive concern you have for ferrets is something you should examine with a therapist.” He also told her she has a “sickness” and is “very, very sad.” All because she wanted a ferret.
When protestors took to the streets after 23-year-old Guinea immigrant Amadou Diallo was shot by police 40 times while, unarmed, he reached for his wallet, Giuliani claimed the protestors were upset because of “their own personal inadequacies.” He also illegally opened police-shot immigrant Patrick Dorismond's sealed police record and declared the victim “no altar boy.” Dorismond's mother produced proof that he once was, in fact, an altar boy — at Giuliani’s church.
Giuliani also refused to meet with people he didn’t agree with, like civil rights groups, the ACLU and others.
“He wasn’t a great mayor because he didn’t like people,” Koch told The New York Post. “He wouldn’t meet with people he didn’t agree with. That’s pretty crazy.”
Giuliani once tangled the city in an expensive legal battle after ordering the removal of bus advertisements for New York magazine that read, “Possibly the only good thing in New York Rudy hasn’t taken credit for.” (Remember how he fired the police commissioner for receiving too much credit for crime reduction?)
RUDY’S WHITE HOUSE WOULD MAKE A GREAT TV SHOW
Giuliani left his second wife, Donna Hanover, to be with Judy Nathan, the nurse who cared for him while he had cancer. Hanover heard the news at the same time as the rest of the world: during a press conference Giuliani held to announce the couple’s separation. Later that day, Hanover called a conference of her own, outing Giuliani as a liar and saying he’d been sleeping with a staff member, his communications director, as well as Nathan. His response: that the impotency he suffered as a result of cancer treatment ruined his marriage.
Giuliani’s first wife was also his second cousin, and he has stated that he thinks a marriage works better when a mistress is involved. Should he be elected, he has said that Nathan will be a close advisor and can sit in on cabinet meetings if she wishes.
Giuliani’s 21-year-old son, Andrew, currently won’t talk to him.
Bush’s misspeaks and idiocy, though frightening, have been a source of entertainment, but a Rudy administration would be downright bizarre. He’s prone to speak off the cuff, making inappropriate statements, and he’s not reserved in sharing his personal life, which if it continues along the same historical path, will surely become tabloid fodder.
Rudy Giuliani with Donald Trump
Then there’s the drag: America’s Mayor has dressed as Marilyn Monroe for a press dinner, donned fishnets with the Rockettes and allowed Donald Trump to nuzzle his neck while in drag.
There’s never a dull moment with Giuliani.
CAREFUL — HE COULD WIN
New Yorker contributor Hendrik Kertzberg commented in the weeks following 9/11 that “in cheering Rudy, we have also been cheering our city, and our firefighters and our cops and our rescue workers. … Because [Rudy] was a lame duck, he was a soaring eagle.”
Capitalizing on his 9/11 fame, referencing it in every speech and at every stop on his campaign, Giuliani claimed every cheer for himself. It’s more likely that Americans declared Giuliani the “9/11 hero” because President Bush was AWOL and Dick Cheney was hiding in a bunker when the country was looking for a leader. Giuliani filled a void, and, arguably, no other American heroes of his proportion have emerged since 9/11. He hopes to ride that reputation all the way into the White House.
“Colorado is a state that can vote either way,” he not-so-perceptively told the Denver Post in June. As of April, Coloradans had contributed $102,101 dollars to Rudy’s campaign. They gave about $200,000 more to Mitt Romney but less to John McCain. As of March, Giuliani had raised $18 million nationally, $3 million less than Romney, but $4 million more than McCain.
If Rudy wins the GOP nomination, as many early polls are predicting, he stands a good chance of winning the presidency, and he’s already stated that his plan for Iraq would double the number of troops that Bush has dedicated to his “surge.”
America’s Mayor as America’s President could be much more dangerous than George W. Bush.