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Too much Starbucks pushed Mornin’ Joe Scarborough into a full-throated, looney-tunes, rant this week in defense of our own local heroes Rudy Giuliani and Bernie Kerik.
It’s been exhilarating to see Rudy back on a national TV tour lately, reminding us what an expert we had in City Hall a decade ago on nuclear weapons policy, health care reform, cap-and-trade and Florida’s next senator. Who knew?
When the ex mayor, who last won an election 14 years ago, launched into a cheer for his latest candidate, Marco Rubio, the Tea Party touted tough-guy running in the senate GOP primary in Florida, Arianna Huffington had the nerve to bust up the chuckle party by making the same point John McCain did at one point during the presidential primaries in 2008.
“Your judgment on people has not been stellar,” Huffington said to Rudy. “Bernie Kerik, anybody?”
Scarborough, who likes to pose as an independent conservative who has grown since his days in the House as a Gingrich Republican, rushed to Rudy’s defense. With all-tooth Giuliani repeatedly assailing the comparison as a “cheap shot,” Scarborough laid out a conspiracy theory that would make Fox blush.
“I know that nobody else will agree with me,” Scarborough declared (his only accurate claim). “The bottom line is if Rudy Giuliani did not run for president, Bernie Kerik would be walking the streets today. Because the second Rudy Giulani started running for president, the long knives came out and they started searching everybody’s record. And they found somebody who made bad mistakes in Bernie Kerik.”
Scarborough’s theory might come as a bit of a surprise to then U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia, an appointee of George W. Bush who indicted Kerik in 2007 on the charges that have now put him in prison. Kerik was accused, among other things, of making “multiple false statements to the White House and to other federal officials” when he was going though the vetting process to become Homeland Security Secretary in 2004. Rudy had encouraged Bush to name his then partner Kerik to this incredibly sensitive post despite the fact that Giuliani’s investigations commissioner had unearthed criminal allegations implicating Kerik years earlier.
Garcia won the Department of Justice’s Exceptional Service Award twice. He helped put Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 bombing, in prison. He participated in the prosecution of the embassy bombing case that led to the sealed indictment of Osama bin Laden years before Rudy Giulani ever knew who the man was. Garcia actually worked at Homeland Security, running immigration and customs, when Kerik was nominated to head the agency. Shortly after Kerik imploded, Garcia left to take over the same Manhattan-based prosecutor’s office Giuliani once headed.
Do you think it’s possible that Garcia and the career federal prosecutors who targeted Kerik did so because he lied to the president, the FBI and everyone else who talked to him about this appointment? It was reported that state prosecutors began a probe of Kerik immediately after he withdrew from the homeland appointment process, back in 2004, three years before Giuliani emerged as a presidential candidate. In fact, Kerik pled guilty to state charges in 2006, and Garcia cleaned up whatever the Bronx District Attorney missed.
The camera panned over to Giuliani during Scarborough’s impassioned defense and he was taking it all in, but saying nothing, an amen of sorts for this Too-Early-in-the-Morning Scarborough theory of prosecutorial intrusion in the national electoral process. Mort Zuckerman, the Daily News owner, was also on the set, chiming in for Rudy at other points, but tongue-tied at Scarborough’s channeling of Garcia’s secret motive.
Poor Ariana was told repeatedly by Scarborough to “stop right now,” and everyone on the panel ganged up on her, with Zuckerman, Scarborough and Giuliani trying to outdo each other in false claims about what a great mayor Giuliani had been. No one could top Rudy himself, who declared that he inherited a $2.3 billion deficit when he became mayor and left the city with a $3 billion surplus.
Actually, the Times reported in January 2002, when Mike Bloomberg took office, that Giuliani personally estimated the gap for the coming fiscal year at $2.9 billion, and Bloomberg said it was $4 billion. For the first time since the near bankruptcy of the city in the 1970s, it had to borrow to pay operating expenses. The Citizens Budget Commission, a business group that is the most respected private voice on city budgets, found that “at least two-thirds” of the deficit were “due to events unrelated to the terrorist attacks” and were consequences of “egregious fiscal policy error” by Giuliani.
“I’m also responsible largely for the turnaround of New York City,” Giuliani observed modestly.
“Yes, that’s right,” echoed gung-ho Joe.