New Yorkers may have enjoyed Giuliani's success at taming the untamed city but are quick to recall the combative mayor who insulted constituents, bullied opponents and made crossing the street in the middle of the block a punishable offense.The guy was a gutless, front-running pig of a mayor who stole credit for other people's work, including his predecesor, David Dinkins, three police chiefs and a string of Education Chancellors a mile long.
That's not to mention his multiple marriages, a divorce so acrimonious a judge ordered Giuliani's mistress out of the mayor's mansion and a son so estranged he plans to play golf instead of campaign for his father.
Crime dropped in the city during Rudy's administration for three reasons: President Clinton's economic boom, Bill Bratton's "No Crime Too Small" program (developed under Dinkins, who also provided the additional police manpower), and, well, as the editors of Freakonomics put it, abortion, which lowered the number of unwanted babies in this country without significantly changing the birthrate.
Isn't it amazing that, when a baby is born to a woman who is both emotionally and financially able, thanks to good economic times, to support it and give it love, that baby is less likely to turn to crime? But I digress...
Rudy was bellicose, belligerent, and a bully. He represented precisely everything that was wrong with Noo Yawk, without having any redeeming charisma (unlike Ed Koch, say). He was a martinet and a glory-hog.
He first came to the attention of New Yorkers when, along with then-Senator Al D'Amato, he "assisted" on an undercover narcotics bust in Washington Heights. I don't know about you, but I wasn't taken in by the sight of Rudy in slacks and jacket buying crack on the street....being filmed in broad daylight by Channel 7 Eyewitless News!
Many have pointed out (and indeed, Reuters notes) Rudy's personal peccadilloes: his many marriages, his rather outré lifestyle choices and, errrrr, costuming (looking like an aging dowager dragging out one more cross-dress version of "The Flintstones" on Saturday Night Live), but let's not forget that there's also some of the shady characters he's dealt with, starting with Senator "Pothole" D'Amato (who managed to duck twelve years of censure and impeachment from the Senate...geee....how? Perhaps a little bent-nose strong arming?) right up to Bernard "Pimp My Apartment and My Bitch, Y'all" Kerik.
But for me, it was the single-minded dictatorial nature of Giuliani's tenure as mayor that will stand out in my mind as the overriding reason people will eventually realize what a jerk he is.
How bad did it get here?
Human rights group Amnesty International accused New York police of abuse, especially against minorities.That bad.
He bullied people who had no defense against him and no power to fight back. When he was faced with a legitimate fight, against Hillary Clinton for Senate in 2000, he squeaked, made up some excuse of prostate cancer for dropping out, but only after serving his wife notice of their impeding divorce....at a press conference.
In other words, he panicked.
His generally high marks from September 11 can only be attributed to the fine work of the people who he surrounded himself with, admirable only for the fact that he'd managed to fire even better, more competent people ahead of them. After all, this was the moron who put the city's emergency management command center (his "bunker") in the line of fire of the only terror attack in New York City since the JP Morgan bombing 150 years earlier.
And then never bothered to show up there when there was a real emergency, to take control, to make command decisions, like getting police and firefighters out of the building when it became obvious how grave the danger was. He wanted to be outside, in the fresh air.
In front of the television cameras.