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Say It Ain't So, Rudy

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Boy, are we going to miss Rudy Giuliani, who threw in the towel yesterday in the 2008 Republican race.

Our Rudy was the young prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York, the one apparently born with a comb over, who became the nation's best-known mayor since the first Richard Daley of Chicago.

Rudy was the man who cracked down on ferrets and other varmints, like welfare freeloaders, the homeless and, of course, public menace number ones, the squeegee car window washers, many of whom moved to Florida and did not vote for Rudy, the one reason the pundits ignored in analyzing how he managed to lose the Sunshine State. Rudy was the man who became a famous crime-buster, a millionaire, and husband of the year, actually several years with his several wives.

But he was most beloved as the man who became America's Mayor, whose campaign slogan was the words "9/11," which he made a verb, a noun, an adjective, a dangling participle and any other grammatical tools he could think of.

He also was the man who could have become the most terrible and terrifying president we've ever had, the nation's First Emperor, until some funny things happened to him on the way to the forum and debates. He turned out to be fourth in the heart of Republican voters. What a shame.

Boy, am I going to miss all of that stuff about Rudy's love life. He was the man who made our gossip pages read like political science texts. Sex, it could be said, made strange bedfellows.

Rudy had, as we say on the sidewalks of New York, balls. I mean, the way he paraded his floozies around City Hall. First, there was his press secretary, then Judy (not Judge Judy).

Not since Warren Harding was keeping his tootsie, Nan Britton, in the White House cloakroom, had there been a Republican with such a commitment to strong family values. Rudy was ahead in wives in the campaign, with more than Fred Thompson and even Mitt Romney, as far as we know. While we in the media were obsessed with his relationship with wife number two (Donna Hanover) and wife number three (Judy Nathan), and they were certainly important issues, we never got to mention first wife Regina Peruggi, without whom Donna and Judy wouldn't have been possible.

The unsung heroine today is the president of Kingsborough Community College, formerly the president of Marymount, and formerly the head of the Central Park Conservancy. With his connections, Rudy managed to annul that marriage to his cousin even though it lasted 14 years.

We also neglected to mention how Rudy's Judy, when asked about her marriages and divorces somehow forgot she'd been married three times and divorced twice. So the underlying issue of the campaign, if Rudy had stayed the course, would have been: is America ready for a candidate whose mistress and later wife, who had a total of six marriages and so far five divorces, or four (depending on who is
keeping score), and one annulment between them?

And then there was Rudy's prostate problem that fascinated New York political medical junkies. By May 2001 Giuliani was recovering from aggressive radiation therapy when his wife at the time (Donna) sought a court order barring the First Girl Friend (Judy) from Gracie Mansion.

Details of the operation were featured in the city's most reliable source of fair and balanced information, the New York Post. On May 13, we awoke reading about Rudy's sperm count. Although the Post had supported Rudy so slavishly for years it was called the City Hall Post, Rupert Murdoch's organ courageously reporting from court case affidavits told us Mr. Mayor, poor fellow, was not only impotent but vomiting eight times a night.

The macho mayor, about who we were learning more than we ever wanted to know, was now in a testerone-free zone, the Post reported faithfully. In fact, he didn't have a trace of male hormones in his entire body, it was said, at the height of his fight to rid the city of ferrets and other weasels.

Admittedly, all of this was bad for the Republican Party's image in the eyes of the NASCAR vote. But Bob Dole did commercials for Viagra. It's moot now, but the question was: would Rudy be doing Cyallis or Levitra commercials from the Oval Office or the Lincoln Bedroom?

And, boy, were we going to miss Rudy's flexibility on the other domestic and foreign issues. True, he wasn't as much of a change agent as Mitt on abortion, gun control and immigration, but Rudy could go to his right faster than Derek Jeter, shortstop of his beloved Yankees.

Rudy was silent about gays during the primaries, but when the going got tough his homophobia would kick in. It forced him to cruelly ride a school chancellor out of town, back in the days when Rudy turned education into a blood sport.

If you thought Clinton was bad playing the race card in South Carolina, he is Jesse Jackson compared to Rudy, whose negativity to blacks during his New York City gig was legendary. He wasn't too kind to Latinos, either.

The campaign so far has been conducted on a very high level. There was a dearth of mud throwing. Let's face it; the Republicans have achieved a new level of boredom. But Rudy would have brought the race right down into the gutter alongside the sidewalks of New York. When he felt threatened, which was all the time, no rock went unthrown. That was part of his excitement as New York's mayor.

What will be missed most is Rudy as the orator. Rudy would stick his chin into any issue, cultural, social or political. Nobody could mount a balcony making his prouncimentos like our Il Duce. He didn't even need a balcony; he had TV.

And he always made the media the villain for anything that went wrong.

Yes, sir, things will be dull, now that we won't have Rudy to kick around anymore.

I'm not a betting man. Nevertheless, I wouldn't bet on Rudy disappearing from the political scene. He has had more lives than a neutered cat. And Rudy doesn't forget when he is wronged. He'll get even with us.

Anyway, so long, Rudy, for now. Arrivederci aroma.