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Rudy Giuliani Is Frozen in Time

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Rudy Giuliani 's much-publicized interview with Larry King's replacement, Piers Morgan, ran Monday night on CNN. He's going to talk about running against Sarah Palin for the Republican nomination! Maybe dis the Tea Party! It's going to be all about ...

September 11.

"It was the most beautiful day..." Giuliani began, running through the same, endlessly repeated stories about where he was when the planes attacked, what he thought when he reached Ground Zero, what he learned about the resilience of the American people.

It was a momentous, terrible day in our history. But can you imagine anybody interviewing Jimmy Carter and spending most of the hour revisiting the Iran hostage crisis? No. Carter has been peacekeeping, writing, irritating successor presidents - doing a lot of things over the years that we, and he, find interesting.

But Giuliani is frozen in time. Unlike Carter, he has nothing going on now that anybody would particularly want to hear about. No new experience that informs his opinions beyond his work as a talking head and a speaker on the semi-sleazy Get Motivated circuit.

I'm no fan of Rudy's performance on 9/11 - when he told Morgan how inspired he was to see the flood of construction workers rushing to Ground Zero to volunteer to help, all I could think of were the ones I've interviewed, who are sick to the point of physical immobility from the effects of working on a site where the city leadership did not enforce proper safety standards.

But even if he was as fine a leader on that day as he imagines he was, it's been a decade. If he had another act in him, we'd have seen a hint.

Giuliani has made no secret of the fact that he'd like another run at the presidency. His big failing last time around, he told Morgan, was to have built "a great national campaign" rather than focusing on organizations in the early primary states.

This is an analysis that is at least half right - his organization in New Hampshire and Iowa and even Florida was terrible. But his national organization was terrible, too. The people he hired were terrible. Their strategy was terrible. His speeches were terrible. His meet-and-greets with voters were terrible. His pants and jackets were terrible.

And there was absolutely nothing about his visit with Morgan that suggested he's learned anything from the experience. Life lessons were never Giuliani's strong suit. It's impossible to learn from mistakes when you never really admit you've made any.

Morgan, whose guest lineup slumped in one week from Oprah Winfrey-George Clooney to Kim Kardashian-Rudy Giuliani, devoted himself almost entirely to sucking up. ("What was it like being knighted by the Queen of England?") He began with the presidential speculation. Then came a desultory discussion of current events, during which Giuliani sang the praises of big Wall Street bonuses while mixing in a nod to trickle-down economics. ("The bigger the bonuses on Wall Street, the more money I had to spend on poor people.")

Nothing has changed since Rudy's presidential run in 2008, except that his head looks much stranger. He is almost totally bald now, and his enormous forehead surges up into a huge, round dome that dwarfs his familiar, sharp face. It's very hard to listen to Giuliani talk and look anywhere but at the top of his head.

Remember a few years years ago, when it looked as if the nominees for president would be Giuliani and Hillary Clinton - an all-New York presidential World Series? This time the only names we've got to offer are George Pataki, who's telling people he's prepared to answer the call in the deeply unlikely event it comes, and a Giuliani who's an exact replica of the hapless 2008 version except for the shortage of hair.

Well, maybe the Mets will come around.