Papal Pandering

Rudy Dons Miter In Search of Upstate Canonization

The administration's funding of the Gay Men's Health Crisis was unaffected by deaths at its well-publicized annual drug orgy on Fire Island, and he never misses a Gay Pride Parade, even though it features what the Post calls "grotesque mockery of the pope, cardinal and church." It's only now, when term limits and Hillary Clinton have changed his constituency, that Giuliani has become a public censor.

The museum defunding, just like his attempted voucher funding, is part of a 1999 rush of Giuliani reversals designed to reposition him for the Senate. In August, his switch from opponent to champion of the milk cartel bill slipped by the press, with barely a note of criticism. Only seven months earlier, Giuliani's chief lobbyist had written a memo to the state legislature, saying that the city "strongly opposed" the bill, which upstate farm interests demand. The memo said it "could cost NYC consumers $30 million per year."

The memo assailed the bill for permitting an across-the-board price hike, saying it "does not distinguish between large successful dairy farms as opposed to smaller farms which might require greater financial assistance." The memo concluded that "there has to be a means of assisting the dairy industry without hurting NYC consumers."

photo: Fred W. Mcdarrah

Since Clinton had already backed the cartel bill too, the issue quickly disappeared. But Hillary is not sworn to represent the interests of city residents only; she's not supposed to be our spokesperson at a bargaining table with those who embody broader state interests. Rudy is.

Clinton did stake out a decidedly pro-NYC position on the $792 billion federal tax cut proposal of congressional Republicans— showing how it would butcher city education aid. Yet Giuliani's endorsement of a tax gouge so deep it would cripple future city budgets has earned him no real rebuke. It's gotten a fraction of the attention that the museum and FALN flaps have, suggesting that the mayor and his allies at the Post have so far been able to tilt the campaign coverage.

He's also collapsed to upstate interests on a city-owned camp for the homeless in Orange County and wetlands development near the watershed reservoirs. His turnabouts were undisguised bows to pressures from upstate GOP officials, who publicly gloated over his sudden acquiescence, reversing his pre­ Senate-race positions. "We got more than we asked for," the Orange County attorney boasted when the city moved to settle a lawsuit involving the camp that it had fought for five years. The city's homeless, who will now be quarantined in an almost prisonlike camp, and its wetlands, which may be damaged by less- restrained developers, are no doubt seen by the mayor as sacrificial lambs in service to his own upstate ambitions.

When Christie Whitman dropped out of the New Jersey senate race recently, she said: "Part of what I set out to determine during the past nearly three months was whether or not it's possible to implement our programs, policies, and reforms while at the same time running an aggressive race for the Senate. I have come to the conclusion that it is not."

She was a statewide official considering a run for a different statewide position, and she found a conflict. The clash between city and upstate interests has long been the engine driving New York politics; yet the mayor acknowledges no conflicts even as he betrays his city.

We now have a mayor who will torment us with a needless and divisive controversy like the museum madness— just as he did by stonewalling after the Diallo shooting— so that he can gain a few points above the Bronx. Ed Koch was the last mayor to run statewide, but he only ran in a six-month Democratic primary campaign, and could not resort to upstate pandering that would have damaged him in his base. Rudy Giuliani seems prepared to run against his own city for most of two years, recasting himself in a state where the overwhelming lion's share of the Republican vote is located in regions he doesn't represent.

It's city bashers, not Catholic bashers, who are setting the Giuliani agenda.

Research: Jennifer Warren

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