Giuliani then and Giuliani now

The Rudolph Giuliani of 1989 to 2001, as candidate for mayor and as mayor, was preeminently a man who wanted to do a job. His entire focus was on the problems of the city and how to solve them. He was not about himself, he was about leadership. He bristled with executive energy.

The Giuliani of today is someone whose main activity is to promote a heroic image of himself, based on his past accomplishments as mayor and on his conduct of New York City after the 9/11 attack.

I’ve written before that Giuliani has become a big balloon of swollen ego and celebrity, and that this is an entirely wrong basis for a presidential candidacy and a presidency. This aspect of Giuliani is brought into a new clarity for me by the opening of Wayne Barrett’s August 7 article in the Village Voice, “Rudy Giuliani’s Five Big Lies About 9/11”:

Nearly six years after 9/11, Rudy Giuliani is still walking through the canyons of lower Manhattan, covered in soot, pointing north, and leading the nation out of danger’s way. The Republican frontrunner is campaigning for president by evoking that visual at every campaign stop, and he apparently believes it’s a picture worth thousands of nights in the White House.

Giuliani has been leading the Republican pack for seven months, and predictions that the party’s evangelicals would turn on him have so far proven hollow. The religious right appears as gripped by the Giuliani story as the rest of the country.

Giuliani isn’t shy about reminding audiences of those heady days. In fact he hyperventilates about them on the stump, making his credentials in the so-called war on terror the centerpiece of his campaign. His claims, meanwhile, have been met with a media deference so total that he’s taken to complimenting “the good job it is doing covering the campaign.” Opponents, too, haven’t dared to question his terror credentials, as if doing so would be an unpatriotic bow to Osama bin Laden.

Barrett then proceeds to puncture Giuliani’s “big lies” about the anti-terrorism credentials Giuliani claims for himself, based on the new book Barrett co-authored with Dan Collins, Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11.

By the way, has anyone ever won the presidency by boasting endlessly about what he’s done in the past, rather than by speaking of what he wants to accomplish as president?

- end of initial entry -

James W. writes:

I don’t recall Reagan ever speaking of himself. He spoke of the great men of the past and present, and of the great documents and institutions. He also was of the opinion that it is amazing what can be accomplished if you don’t care who gets the credit.

David B. writes:

You ask whether anyone has ever won the presidency by boasting about what he’s done in the past. I thought immediately of someone who didn’t win, but made his past the centerpiece of his presidential run. That would be John Kerry. Kerry made his Vietnam experience front and center. Much of 2004 was spent comparing his and GWB’s military records. The Swift Boat Vets made ads and had a website attacking Kerry’s Vietnam war record and post-war protests. I believe that Kerry made a big mistake playing up Vietnam. Most people would prefer to FORGET Vietnam than have to remember it all the time.

To me, Giuliani is doing what Kerry did. He says, “I’m strong on the ‘War On Terror’ because of what I did and experienced on 9-11.” Also, Giuliani seems to think of himself as a star. If so-called conservatives are going to support him, they are even more the Stupid Party than was thought.

Daniel writes:

To a certain America, how you earn your money, as long as you don’t break any laws, is not a matter for review, so hands off. OK, but do we want to maintain this policy for a man who is seeking our trust and confidence to be the President of the United States of America?

The vast majority of Rudy Giuliani’s income over the past six years has come from traveling the globe (expenses paid, mind you: private jet with extra seating for the missus and “Little Louie,” luxury suites, limousines, etc … ) giving the same speeches on Giuliani’s take on such deep philosophical matters as “courage,” “vision,” “leadership,” “grace under fire,” etc … …These engagements bring in 10s and even 100s or thousands of dollars per reading. Does anybody really believe that Giuliani offers any compelling insights in these speeches? …..Is this right? “Hey, it’s nothing that Bill Clinton hasn’t been doing since he left office…..” Case rested. Furthermore, Clinton cashed in on this celebrity AFTER he left office. If this grubby tendency of his had been known beforehand, I don’t think he would have been elected. One last point, why is there such a market for this boiler-plate? In light of the fact that those paying for these speeches are all business groups and trade associations and considering that Giuliani made it clear that he was going to continue in public life after the mayoralty, and that his next step would be the larger stage of national politics, couldn’t these outrageous payoffs be construed as some sort of payola, before the fact? Nothing to hang an indictment on, of course, but it is all so unseemly.

Giuliani is no Cincinnatus.

LA replies:

The demand for big-name speakers at private events and the out-of-this-universe fees that they receive is a typical expression of our time. I think it’s a manifestation of our extreme affluence and the decadence that accompanies it. People today really do find nearness to “celebrity” to be meaningful and fulfilling, something for which they are willing to pay lots of money, to pay, say, $100,000 to hear Rudolph Giuliani speak for one hour..

We know that liberalism is about finding substitutes for transcendence, but this is getting ridiculous.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 11, 2007 09:20 AM | Send

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