Without 9/11 Rudy Giuliani would be remembered as a failed Republican mayor who attempted to censor a Brooklyn Museum exhibition; a man who took credit for a city's declining crime rate that had begun under the former Democratic mayor, a man who exacerbated race relations in the city, and one who had a marital history as messy as any puffed up, narcissistic bald man in American politics. With 9/11 he has become the Republican presidential front runner, "America's Mayor," a man who profited more than any other from a great tragedy, and one who is willing to say or do anything to win the nomination and then the presidency. As a lifelong New Yorker, and a compulsive Rudy watcher, I want to add my personal observations to the Rudy story.
It cannot be said often enough that 9/11 happened on Rudy's watch. In the real world -- one that is divorced, forgive the word Rudy and Judi -- from politics, when something bad happens to something or someone you are entrusted with, you are held accountable for it. Not for Rudy, or for Bush, masters of the art of deflecting blame and responsibility from themselves to others. It was Rudy who placed the center of police and fire fighting operations in the very World Trade Center that had been bombed by terrorists a few years before, making it useless in the event of another attack. It was Rudy who failed to upgrade the equipment that the Police and Fire Departments needed for communicating in a time of attack, and as a result, many more died than had to die. Not the smartest move for one who presents himself as our champion terrorism fighter, is it? It was Rudy who tried to make his crony, the corrupt Bernard Kerik our Homeland Security Czar, until Kerik's unsavory past popped up time and again. And it is now Rudy who stands before a Republican group on Lincoln Day in New Hampshire and warns that America will be attacked again under the "defensive" Democrats, making it necessary for us to elect "offensive" Rudy as our next Republican president -- the choice being Rudy or die. Well, offensive is the right word. I find him offensive in every way. He offends history, he offends common sense, he offends the constitution, and he offends human decency. And he offends me -- a New Yorker who lived through 9/11 and who together with his wife and family continues to live in the city that he, Rudy, put in such great danger. Anyone who wishes to add to this list, please feel free to do so.
There is a magnificent new exhibition of Greek and Roman art at the Metropolitan Museum, and it is both a wonder for the eye, and a cautionary tale. Never before in this country have so many magnificent classical sculptures and artifacts been exhibited in one place, and in such a beautiful setting. We stand in awe before them. It is an exhaustive and exhausting exhibition. If you go, bring roller skates. And think long and hard about the classical past. Looking at all this beauty, the high achievement of the human imagination, we recall that these great civilizations failed and passed into history through hubris, war, and a loss of their fledgling democratic roots. It only takes one Caligula to speed the end to the long and powerful Roman civilization. And it may only take one Rudy Giuliani, exploiting fear of terrorism, who will finally do that for America, if America buys the freshly coined terror that he is purveying from the Republican pulpit.