If you ever needed proof that anyone can lead in a crisis, hark back to 9/11 and the then omnipresent Rudy Giuliani.
For the days following that attack, Giuliani was everywhere—on every news broadcast, in every newspaper, on every radio call-in show. The fact that he failed to dominate Facebook and Twitter owes only to the fact that those two media had not yet come along.
He was the rock. The guiding force. He would bring his city—and by extension—our country back from the depths.
Seventeen years later the city has come back. The country has also. But Rudy Giuliani remains in the depths, always burrowing lower.
Admittedly, watching one’s power and influence fade is never easy, and politicians don’t handle the decline any better or worse than others. We’ve all heard the “In my day…” speeches and commentary from people whose fame has slipped; but we’ve also witnessed the accomplishments of someone like Jimmy Carter, whose presidency may have been lackluster at best, but whose lifetime of charitable work afterwards will ensure his place in the hearts of those he helped.
And then there’s Rudy Giuliani, whose only claim to fame was being mayor of New York City on Sept 11, 2001—the same Rudy Giuliani who, in 2016 while campaigning for Donald Trump, said “Under those eight years, before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack inside the United States.”
Yes, he forgot 9/11. Or he considered NYC separate from the USA. And actually he forgot two if you count the terrorist attack at LAX.
Of course his supporters assert that his stop-and-frisk policies dramatically reduced the murder rate in New York City, but even here the facts do not bear it out; in fact, they imply the opposite. Still, that policy pinpoints the beginning of Rudy Giuliani as Mr. Tough Guy whose concern for human rights equals that of his new best pal Donald Trump.
Now that Giuliani is the president’s lawyer, he’ll be heard from again with greater frequency; and really, that’s all he wants. He has nothing worthwhile to offer anymore, and his credibility among anyone outside (maybe) his immediate family and the hardest-line Trump supporters is nil. But don’t underestimate his ability to be exploited. His claim Wednesday about the Trump payoff of Stormy Daniels was not a gaffe but a plea bargain. As Trump said today in a tweet: “Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.” How do we know? One of his lapdogs told us.
So there in the muck of yet another Trumpian swamp, the two of them can be found, rollicking together, obfuscating all the way. Giuliani, the no longer credible and often pathetic former everything, has few other options available. But if he can further the success of a man as contemptible as he, that ought to buy him a slightly larger photo in a history book.
Or maybe, if there is some divine order, a catalogue of the infamous.