Friday, November 16, 2007
Rudy The Not So Potent
There are a lot of easy ways to target Rudy Giuliani. Starting with the fact that the guy's certifiably crazy. (In fact, the changes in his body morphology over time suggest to me that the single question that would most likely derail his campaign is, Are you now or have you ever been prescribed psychotropic medication?) So Josh Marshall's insistence [spelling error, ahem, hereby corrected] that as Mayor of New York, Giuliani wasn't responsible for the security of the city's eight million residents is difficult to understand, since it strikes me as, 1) wrong; and 2) generous.
Wrong because the City of New York has so many security functions -- ranging from the direct (police and fire departments, hospital and emergency response systems, a city environmental protection agency) to the indirect (health inspection, infrastructure oversight) -- that to deny the Mayor's role in protecting New Yorkers takes an act of will. Now there might be some lawyerly distinctions to be made between "security" and "safety", but I don't think anyone understands Giuliani's claim to mean that he would serve in a command and control capacity in the event of an armed invasion of New York.
But besides the fact that it comes off as obstinate to deny Giuliani this point, it's politically generous as well. Sure, crime in New York went down on Giuliani's watch (although there's some doubt over how much of that was due to his "zero tolerance" policy and how much simply the result of broader national crime trends). As important is the fact that both the cops and the firefighters, the two "security services" so central to the symbolism of a Giuliani campaign, despise him.
The firefighters resentment of Giuliani's Twin Towers cleanup policy resulted in him being excluded from their Presidential Forum this past spring. As for the cops, here's a recent press release from Patrick Lynch, the head of the NY PBA, on Giuliani:
Giuliani has wrapped himself firmly in the cloak of 9/11 for his own political purposes. But the real heroes of 9/11, those who helped to evacuate those towers and lived to tell the tale and all those who participated in the recovery and cleanup, know the truth. Rudy Giuliani has no real credentials as a terrorism fighter. His only credentials lie in managing the cleanup after a terror attack. The New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association could never support Rudy Giuliani for any elected office.
But what about his managerial performance, upon which his claims are based? His decision to override his advisors' misgivings and locate the City's emergency "war room" in the Twin Towers suggests he graduated from the Homer Simpson School of National Security. (A building already targeted by terrorists = D'ohhh!!) What's more, he did nothing to resolve the police and fire departments' historic and notorious "first-responder" rivalry (brawls between cops and firefighters were not unheard of at emergency scenes).
I say, Give Giuliani his security bona fides. Then hold him accountable for them.