A Legend in His Own Mind

Giuliani, the Great Race Divider, Says He'll Be Europe's Healer

The public may continue to buy this P.T. Barnum routine for a while, or even for a lifetime. It demonstrates how rabidly, and gullibly, the American voter longs for heroes in this plastic age of image spinners.

The real Giuliani is a fallible human being like the rest of us—not a saint. And he isn’t a Mister Rogers man of the people. He doesn’t relate to those who have fallen and who need a hand up. He never admits mistakes. He never apologizes to people he has wronged. He was a crisis mayor, near-brilliant in convulsive events, such as terrorist attacks. He was George Patton, a man with an iron grip on command and a certainty of his rightness. But running a country or a city is not like running an army in wartime. Wars are irrational, diseased events. Giuliani has never shown us that he is not only a can-do general, but also a thoughtful man who respects others’ ideas. He is not Dwight Eisenhower or George Marshall or Omar Bradley. In victory, he has not shown any instinct to repair the damage he has done to his opponents.

Let us take one last reality check on Giuliani’s resume.

Perhaps you remember the sunny day in September 1992, when Giuliani, campaigning for the mayor’s job, was the principal speaker at a booze-fueled protest by 10,000 off-duty cops and their supporters at City Hall. The police were angry at the first African-American mayor of New York, David Dinkins—in particular his proposal to create an independent, all-civilian review board to examine citizen complaints about police rudeness and rough behavior. The word "nigger" was heard loudly several times from the crowd. A number of protest signs called Dinkins a "washroom attendant." Giuliani in his remarks at the protest, which was organized by the police union, whipped the crowd to even fiercer heights by reciting a list of Dinkins’ policies and, after each one, starting a chant of "Bullshit! Bullshit!" About 1,500 of the demonstrators eventually stormed onto the Brooklyn Bridge and tied up traffic there for an hour. The press recorded all this loveliness.

Giuliani loyalists say the former mayor has matured since then. Has he changed? I don’t know. People don’t usually change their nature at the age of 59. All one can really say with certainty is that we do him no favors by seeing only part of him and not the whole man.

Research assistance: Michael K. Anstendig

« Previous Page