Rudy Giuliani

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Better governance was not the goal of the most recent American Presidential election.

Pundits on the Left (and many on the Right) have been excoriated as “out-of-touch” for not believing Trump could win the election, though the candidate himself was said to have thought he had little chance on Election Day. The two main reasons why so many high-information voters and members of the punditry felt he had little chance for victory: 1) Basically sane and decent people didn’t want to believe their fellow citizens would stoop to supporting a bigoted demagogue who was wholly unsuited for the position, and 2) Many traditionally astute observers judged the campaign based on who had better policies when anger was really all that counted this time. It was a populist revolt, which is always based more on emotion than rational thought.

Personally, I believed Clinton would win by five or six points nationally, taking the popular vote and electoral college, until James Comey insinuated himself, at which point it seemed it would be a dead heat. When the FBI concludes investigating Trump and his associates for possible treason, the department itself needs to be examined for its outrageous actions and how outsiders to the organization, like Rudy Giuliani, seemed to know ahead of time about its coming October surprise.

From Simon Kuper’s Financial Times piece on the perils of populism:

All populist movements now offer some version of “Lock her up!”. Pim Siegers, a village councillor for the far-left Dutch Socialist Party, told me that when he tried to convince people that the populist Geert Wilders wouldn’t solve their problems, they often replied: “We know. But ‘they’ — the elite — don’t like him.” Voting populist is often simply a way to punish elites. One campaign poster during last year’s Brexit referendum urged, beneath a picture of the grinning politicians David Cameron and George Osborne: “Wipe the smile off their faces. Vote Leave.” No matter that voting Leave might make you worse off; at least it would hurt the elite too. Similarly, many poor Americans wanted to abolish Obamacare chiefly to punish Barack Obama.

Liberals still often delude themselves that today’s political battle is about which side has better solutions. When Trump proposes killing off the National Endowment for the Arts, liberals counter that the NEA costs taxpayers a pittance (less, for instance, than Trump’s weekend trips to his Mar-a-Lago resort). But smart policymaking isn’t the point. Trashing the NEA punishes liberals.

Populist leaders act out revenge fantasies for people who feel slighted. Hence that quintessential populist persona (which Trump incarnates): the troll. Trump being Trump, he sometimes turns the dial up to 11 and goes from punishment to sadism, as in his odes to waterboarding.

The joy of punishment goes back to the Old Testament, but Randy Newman captured it beautifully in his 1988 satirical song “I Want You To Hurt Like I Do” (“One thing we all have in common/ And it’s something everyone can understand/ All over the world sing along… ”). Newman wrote the song as a counter to “We Are the World”, the liberal-solutions anthem. American conservatives understand the joy of punishment. •

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In a great Politico piece, Kevin Baker sees Rudy Giuliani’s second honeymoon-ish “American Mayor” phase as a brief, mostly unearned aberration in a nearly three decades campaign of race baiting and a distortion of facts that began in earnest with his defeat by David Dinkins in the race for Gracie Mansion in 1989. Those who see Giuliani’s deranged delegate speeches for Donald Trump as odd may think again, as the former created something of a template for the latter during his 1993 rise to the mayoralty, an ugly spectacle of lies and hate speech that served to divide the city. Baker is masterful at defying a collective (and often faulty) memory of NYC politics, recalling the past with great clarity and some glorious phrasing–he describes Daniel Moynihan as “New York’s great stuffed owl of a senator.” Perhaps most damning is the writer’s excoriation of Giuliani’s two terms in office, which were largely lackluster and incessantly petty. An excerpt:

Nobody remembers it this way now, but the Dinkins administration compiled New York’s best record on crime since World War II, adding 6,000 more cops and enjoying a record, 36 straight months of drops in the crime rate. But for New Yorkers this was eclipsed by big headline events like the Crown Heights riot of 1991—a clash between African-Americans and Orthodox Jews that Giuliani would insist on calling a “pogrom,” implying that it was countenanced by Mayor Dinkins. The crime statistics had turned around, and quality of life was slowly but visibly improving in much of New York, but that’s not how people saw it at the time—in part thanks to Giuliani’s relentless, Trumpian campaign to tell them it was a still a cesspool.

Even once-liberal elements of the press internalized Giuliani’s apocalyptic view of his own city. Richard Cohen, in an October 1993 column in the Washington Post the month before the election, scoffed that, “Aside from the deranged, there’s not a single Gothamite who thinks it has gotten better under Dinkins—no matter what his statistics say,” while the Times’ James McKinley concluded, “Mr. Dinkins will never be able to prove his policies have curbed crime.” John Taylor, in Time, conceded that New Yorkers might actually be safer, but that they felt less safe, because the crimes still going on—though he did not give a specific example—were Trumpishly hellish: “Entire families are executed in drug wars. Teenagers kill each other over sneakers. Robbers casually shoot victims even if they have surrendered wallets. The proliferation of carjackings means people are no longer safe even in their automobiles.”

With actual facts about the crime rate effectively banished from the debate, pundits could feel free to embrace the throwback notion pushed by Giuliani that America’s real urban problem was not so much poverty or racism, but black people demanding special treatment, much like their tribune in city hall. Black-scolding reached a sort of frenzy that April, when New York’s great stuffed owl of a senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, gave his famous, “Defining deviancy down” speech, in which he asked “what in the last 50 years in New York is now better than it was” back in 1943, and concluded that nothing was better, especially crime. Moynihan received almost universal adoration for these supposedly bold words, the media having failed to notice that crime was at record lows in 1943 because most of the city’s young men were off fighting something called World War II. Or that there was a deadly race riot in New York that year anyway, set off by a cop shooting a black soldier. Or that Harlem had been officially “off-limits” to visiting white servicemen, or that black people were effectively banned from all of the city’s best restaurants, hotels, colleges, hospitals, or jobs in 1943.

Whatever. The Giuliani campaign, and its attendant press corps, was as far past facts as the Trump campaign is now. The perception became the reality.•

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Rudy Giuliani, the President of Broward County, has always been a miserable man. His recent comments about President Obama not loving America and not being raised like you or I is just more of the gutter-level Birtherism that looks at Black and sees Other. Wayne Barrett’s New York Daily News takedown of Giuliani is a thing of utter beauty. An excerpt:

The onetime presidential candidate also revealed at the party that Obama “doesn’t love America,” an echo of a speech he’d delivered to delirious cheers in Arizona a week earlier when he declared: “I would go anywhere, any place, anytime, and I wouldn’t give a damn what the President of the United States said, to defend my country. That’s a patriot. That’s a man who loves his people. That’s a man who fights for his people. Unlike our President.”

Rudy may have forgotten the half-dozen deferments he won ducking the Vietnam War, even getting the federal judge he was clerking for to write a letter creating a special exemption for him. And remember Bernie Kerik? He’s the Giulaini police commissioner, business partner and sidekick whose nomination as homeland security secretary narrowly preceded indictments. He then did his national service in prison.

Giuliani went so far as to rebuke the President for not being “brought up the way you were and the way I was brought up through love of this country,” a bow no doubt to the parenting prowess of Harold Giuliani, who did time in Sing Sing for holding up a Harlem milkman and was the bat-wielding enforcer for the loan-sharking operation run out of a Brooklyn bar owned by Rudy’s uncle.

Though Rudy cited Harold throughout his public life as his model (without revealing any of his history), he and five Rudy uncles found ways to avoid service in World War II. Harold, whose robbery conviction was in the name of an alias, made sure the draft board knew he was a felon. On the other hand, Obama’s grandfather and uncle served. His uncle helped liberate Buchenwald, which apparently affected him so deeply he stayed in the family attic for six months when he returned home.•

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Tough on crime and on the eyes.

Rudy Giuliani: President Obama thinks we can all hold hands, sing songs and have a peace symbol.

Decoder: I know Obama has been forceful militarily in the Middle East, but this tired old argument is the best I can do. Anyone who followed my jackass Presidential campaign knows how out of touch I am.

Rudy Giuliani: North Korea and Iran are not singing along with the President. Knowing that, it just doesn’t make sense why we would reduce our nuclear arms when we face these threats.

Decoder: Our nuclear and non-nuclear arsenal could destroy these countries many times over. And Obama has made those outlier nations exceptions to his nuclear rules.

Rudy Giuliani: The President doesn’t understand the concept of leverage.

Decoder: Like how I leveraged the horrible tragedy of 9/11 into great personal wealth for myself and my friends.

Rudy Giuliani: Leverage means the other guy has to be afraid of you.

Decoder: I manage through fear and intimidation because I know what an unlikable prick I am. Even my prostate despises me.

Rudy Giuliani: This President has taken so many steps backward in dealing with national security.

Decoder: For instance, he hasn’t accepted my recommendation that Bernie Kerik be Director of Homeland Security.

Rudy Giuliani: Beyond this nuclear policy, this is still an administration in a state of confusion about how to deal with terrorism.

Decoder: I know how to deal with terrorists. Business deals, I mean.

Rudy Giuliani: The [Obama administration has] shown an inability to make tough decisions. It’s not inconsequential how the President dithers over so many issues.

Decoder: I don’t dither. I make poor decisions quickly and I stick to them, no matter how stupid they are. That’s how I got to be President of parts of Broward County.

Rudy Giuliani: With Israel, [Obama] has been extremely hostile. His treatment of the Israeli Prime Minister [during his recent Washington visit] was shocking.

Decoder: Unless you read the newspapers. Then it’s not so shocking. Netanyahu embarrassed America during Biden‘s visit there in March. The tall man will ice you if you do that to him.

More Decoders: