THE BLOG

Giuliani Slips Another Notch

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Dan Collins New York Editor-at-Large, The Huffington Post

The Rudy Giuliani brand has deteriorated so much that it's hard to imagine an elective office for which he might be suited.

But the image of Rudy running for governor did have its fascination. For all his self-promotion as an expert on leadership, his real talent is for bare-knuckles, no-holds-barred, I-am-righteous-and-the-other-side-is-evil-incarnated combat. Giuliani would probably not have been good at running the state, but if there was ever a group that deserved being stuck with him, it's the New York state legislature.

Now, published reports say he's given up the idea.

Does he think Albany is too tough for him? It is, of course. New York's state government is such a mess it would be too tough for Vlad the Impaler. But it's another sign of Giuliani's dwindling political presence that he might admit it, even to himself.

If this is the finale of Giuliani's political life, fine. Good-bye, Rudy. See you on Fox. Good luck with your consulting gig. People must be standing in line to have the guy who thought Bernie Kerik would be a good bet to run the Department of Homeland Security tell them how to manage their businesses.

However, there's still that Senate seat.

No sooner had Giuliani been reported out of the governor's contest than the Daily News announced he was eyeing a race against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

True, Gillibrand would be a softer target than Andrew Cuomo. Giuliani v. Cuomo would be prosecutor against prosecutor -- one on a career trajectory and the other old, not-really-that-great news.

The only problem with the switch from the voters' point of view is that instead of running for a job to which he would bring a lot of minuses and a couple of pluses, he's apparently now eyeing one for which he is totally, completely unsuited.

There are very few people who've played politics on the national level with a worse reputation for working well with others.

When it comes to national policy, he's swung with the wind. In his mayoral era he was liberal on social issues, conservative on fiscal ones unless they involved the federal government sending more money the city's way, and Bloombergian in his willingness to hang out with helpful Democrats from Washington.

Now, he's a knee-jerk Republican, so in tune with the party line that he even blasted the Obama administration for bringing the trial of the architects of 9/11 to New York. If we had a right to expect consistency from him on anything, it's the attack on the World Trade Center. But there he was on Fox, completely backtracking on his earlier views about standing up to the terrorists.

Senator Gillibrand is far from the world's strongest candidate. She's been constantly criticized for having taken one set of positions on issues like guns and immigration when she was a member of Congress from a conservative upstate district, and switching gears when she was elevated to Hillary Clinton's old seat.

But she looks like a paragon of consistency compared to Rudy.

Giuliani flirted with a Senate run once before, in 2000, and he was a terrible candidate. He was even worse than he was at running for president in 2008.

He withdrew from the Senate race citing the discovery of prostate cancer.,There was also the problem of his spectacularly collapsing marriage. Nevertheless, everyone who watched his brief, miserable campaign saw a man who actually had no earthly interest in being part of a body of 100 equal legislators.

If Rudy had decided to run for governor, it would have been a signal that he was at least willing to try to re-establish his credentials as an executive, as a leader. Of course he would have had to do it in Albany, which is nobody's idea of Camelot.

But wouldn't you have liked to see Giuliani, at his craziest, doing battle with the State Senate?

It turns out he doesn't have the stomach.