Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Rudy Can Fail

Let me be upfront-- I didn't like Rudy Guliani before 9/11.

I like him even less now.

I have been puzzled by the common wisdom that Guliani handled 9/11 "brilliantly." I'm at a loss to see what he did that was different from what any other mayor would have done-- walk around, looking concerned, then giving a couple of speeches. Hell, even our own excitable Mayor Daley here in Chicago would have done the same thing. Guliani did his job. Wonderful.

A lot of people also give him credit for the turnaround in New York City's crime rate. Yet, that turnaround happened in every major city in the United States. I wonder how much that had to do with the general economic upturn that most economists agree was the result of President Bill Clinton getting the federal deficit under control, freeing up money for investment.

And I'll bet the fact that Congress passed bills that sent a lot of federal money to cities and municipalities to beef up their police forces in terms of numbers and training helped out. There was, of course, money for that, back in those wonderful old days of a budget surplus.

But back to Rudy. Guliani was responsible for a criminal crackdown in New York, that included enforcing jaywalking laws. I wonder how Abner Louima and the family of Amadaou Diallo feel about that crackdown?

How about Rudy's brilliant role as a terrorism fighter?

Gary Hart, on Ariana Huffington's blog, questions this. He questions Rudy's dedication to the "fight against terror" in open letter to Rudy Guliani, wondering where his commitment to it was from January 31, 2001, when the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century issued its final report warning of the danger of terrorist attacks on American soil, to September 11, 2001, when Rudy gave his brilliant performance.

The first leader of the New York Office of Emergency management, Jerome Hauer, has some criticisms. It seems that since the World Trade Center had already been a terrorist target, and terrorists had publicly vowed that they'd hit it again, he argued for placing it in a location in Brooklyn, away from the World Trade Center.

It didn't seem like placing a huge emergency management center, filled with the computers, communications equipment, emergency generators-- and tanks with thousands and thousands of gallons of diesel fuel needed to run those generators -- right next to an obvious and stated terrorist target would be a good idea.

But Guiliani overruled Hauer and everybody else, and petulantly had the emergency center placed in 7 World Trade Center, right next to the World Trade towers.

On September 11, 2001, not only was that emergency center useless as a result of Guliani's decision, it actually became an additional hazard itself. When the North tower collapsed that day, the antenna sliced through 7 World Trade center, severing diesel fuel lines. 7 World Trade center-- and the emergency center-- had to be evacuated. The diesel fuel burned, creating additional smoke and eventually collapsing 7 World Trade Center.

Rudy tried to play like it had been a consensus, everyone's idea to place the emergency center there. But it wasn't. It was Guliani's idea alone, over the strident advice of Hauer and others.

Mr. Hauer’s memo to First Deputy Mayor Peter J. Powers recommended the MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn:

"The building is secure and not as visible a target as buildings in Lower Manhattan."

Fox News, of course, had Guliani claiming that it had been largely on Mr. Hauer's recommendation that the center be placed at the site it ended up being placed at.

Hauer's response:

He’s trying to run on his homeland-security and national-security background, and if you start peeling back the skin on the errors he made when he was mayor, you take away a lot of the basis for his candidacy… I feel sad that he would betray somebody that had served him loyally in the past, and I’m angry, too. But when you get to know Rudy, you know that this is the kind of thing he does. That’s just his personality.

Wow-- there's a candidate I can get behind-- a guy who makes huge errors of ommission and commission that actually interfered with responding to a terror emergency, then tries to run for President on his record as a terror-fighter. That's chutzpah.

I think that some Democrats are fearful of a Guliani run for President, but not this one. In looking at his record, his own arrogance, backstabbing of former aides, and obstinance will sink his run himself.

It's funny, because in writing that, I realize that my favorite President, Bill Clinton, had all those qualities. With some key differences, like the fact that he actually sent the military and intelligence services out to fight Al Queda and Bin Laden, including a large cruise missle strike that barely missed Bin Laden. And of course, helping the economy, fighting crime, etc.

Did you ever think we'd look back nostaligically at the '90's?

In the meantime, we need to figure out who will direct "The Rudy Guliani Story." Fellini is dead, so we need to find another surrealist director.


Skylers Dad said...

Well laid out JY, thanks. Great post!

Natalie said...

Excellent post. I am always shocked that people seem to like this guy so much. I completely agree with your assessment of his "handling of 9/11" isn't it exactly what anyone else would have done?

Coaster Punchman said...

I just got through leaving a similar comment on Some Guy's post. I was over the collective blow-job for Rudy Giuliani almost before it began. I've also been pontificating on this for years now. I'm glad everyone else is joining in! (Not that you heard it first from me, but I will be glad to take credit.)

Doc said...

WOW! What a brazen ass is Rudy Guliani! Thanks for confirming what I had already feared JY.


cheer34 said...

well said!

kim said...

I love Rudy. I think he did a lot for the people of NY after 911. Did he jump in and save people's lives? No, but he raised people's spirits, and at that moment it was needed. He was an ass before, and an ass afterwards, but at that moment, he rose to the occassion.

The Elk said...

Rudy has always been good about getting his face plastered on TV. On 9/11 he made sure of it, and only looked good due to the completely delayed and inept response of the administration (e.g GW Reading a Childrens book after the attack, and Cheney too busy planning Iraq invasion etc).
Rudy took the vaccuum and ran with it. He also posseses good solid right wing family values (he's on his third wife after numerous affairs).
As a scumbag, he even makes my long lost friend Rex look good.....

Erik Donald France said...

Whoah, I'm persuaded, though 1) I never liked Rudy anyway and 2) he may get ko'd by his own party.

In fact, I've never trusted any Republican for major political office since casting my first votes in 1980.

GETkristiLOVE said...

Since I'm a political novice, I wasn't familiar with Guliani before 9/11, except hearing his name during major NYC events. When I saw him on TV during and after 9/11, he immediately impressed me with his speeches. I thought, "Wow, there's a real politician for you - he uplifts you with his speeches, all the while taking credit from other people to further his career." I don't know why, he just seemed to have that way about him.

I guess I was right.

Splotchy said...

JY, since you are well-versed in Rudy Giuliani *and* Lou Reed's New York, what do you make of the line from Sick Of You -- "It was an inside trader eating a rubber tire
after running over Rudy Giuliani"


Bubs said...

Well done Johnny. I used to, kinda, like Rudy pre-9/11, just as a character. Actually, I shouldn't say "like", it was more like "enjoyed". I always thought he was kind of a dick. A couple of points:

The credit for NYC's decline in crime (other than the national trend you described) goes largely to the NYPD commissioner at the time, William Bratton. And the instant Bratton was recognized for this on the cover of Time magazine, Rudy got rid of him.

As to Rudy's performance on 9/11, while he didn't do anything spectacular, compare his demeanor and actions with the weepy hysterics of Ray Nagin during Katrina. Rudy looks good in comparison.

Johnny Yen said...

Skyler's Dad-

I think that his outrageous behavior before and after really stoked me up-- that he gets big props for simply doing his job. And then wants to launch a Presidential campaign over it.

Yeah, I didn't get it-- sort of like how people thought Reagan was great-- why?

He is indeed. Ironically, his party will turn on him not because of that, but because he's pro-choice, the only quality I like about him.


As Bubs pointed out, he could have done worse, but it really rankled me that accolades were poured on him just for doing his job.

Yeah, I didn't even get into his scummy personal life-- his political life was plenty sleazy.

I know, isn't it funny, that his only good quality, being pro-choice, will probably get him torpedoed by his own party?

He seems to be an expert at taking credit for other peoples' work.

I'm lost on that one too!

Both good points! Rudy could have done worse.

I know that the community policing strategies in New York were very effective, and they gave a lot better training to rookies than in the past.

From what I've heard about Guliani's style-- bullying, killing the messenger, vetting information he didn't want to hear-- it sounds like a Guliani presidency would be a lot like having Donald Rumsfeld as president. Not a pretty picture.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Great post, JY.

Democrats can only hope that Rudy is the nominee. No one's more beatable.