Rudy Giuliani’s hero was once Bobby Kennedy. The Giuliani of back then, a young man who got three Vietnam War draft deferments, voted for lefty George McGovern in 1972.
As a lawyer, he became a big-time corruption fighter, taking on the likes of Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky. He moved cautiously to the right in the Ronald Reagan years, but still held moderate views. His home was New York, after all, one of the great liberal bastions in the country.
In 1993, Mr. Giuliani became that city’s 107th mayor and earned a sterling reputation as a crime-buster, bringing peace to Gotham’s streets. The economic times were good and the city profited. Then came the apocalyptic calamity of 9/11 and he was there to stiffen the country’s resolve.
Suddenly, he was not just the city’s king but “America’s mayor,” as Oprah billed him. Through the crisis, he reached out, asking Americans not to take their anger out on Muslims. “We should act bravely. We should act in a tolerant way.” He was remarkably popular. His path to the presidency looked wide open.
And now? Well, don’t look now. Now the same Giuliani is derided as a Donald Trump toady, a font for falsehoods, a spewer of far-right agitprop. Once a man who brought the country together, he now is seen as the opposite – as a polarizer, driving it apart.
Say it ain’t so, Rudy. Say as you did in an interview with Chuck Todd that “the truth isn’t truth.” For many, that batty observation, an attempt to rescue himself from a flurry of contradictions in respect to Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, spectacularly encapsulated politics in the Trump era.
Truth has become an ever-shifting target. Words are ghosts. Reality is without foundation. It’s whatever your Nutri Blender makes of it.
The debasement and descent of Captain America, Rudy Giuliani, can be seen as a mirror on the madness. With all he had going for him, how could he devolve into becoming Nero’s lackey? Even New Yorkers have turned on him. For his 74th birthday a few months ago, he went to a Yankees’ game. They booed him lustily.
After almost every TV appearance, it seems poor Rudy has to come out to try to correct himself. One fine example was when he blatantly contradicted his boss in saying that Mr. Trump had repaid lawyer Michael Cohen US$130,000 for Mr. Cohen’s hush-money payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels.
After his superhero turn as New York mayor, he had the world at his toes. He was still moderate, backing gun control, gay rights, the right to choose. He bided his time, making money. For 124 speeches in 2006, he earned US$11.4-million. Leading the polls heading into the 2008 presidential race, he made a strategic blunder. Being pro-choice, he didn’t want to contest the caucuses in the heavily evangelical state of Iowa. He didn’t enter the race until the Florida primary. It was too late.
In the years of Barack Obama’s presidency, the Republicans were moving right in a hurry, racist backlash being one reason. Mr. Giuliani saw which way the wind was blowing and blew with it. In 2016, he initially thought of supporting Jeb Bush – the low-energy guy, as Donald Trump called him – but swung over, catatonically you might say, to Mr. Trump.
He ingratiated himself with him with vicious attacks on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, saying she “could be a founding member of ISIS [Islamic State].” Of Syrian refugees he warned, “They’re going to come here and kill us.”
But he did not get the prize of secretary of state, which he wanted in order to undo Ms. Clinton’s work. He sat out for a while but, desperate for a platform, chose to take on the impossible task as Mr. Trump’s lawyer.
In keeping with Mr. Trump, who he says “loves people, all people” and has “a big heart,” Mr. Giuliani has no shame. The once stalwart prosecutor and upholder of the law now does the President’s bidding in trying to undermine the rule of law in attacking the Justice Department and U.S. intelligence agencies.
The Greeks invented the word hubris for men like Rudy Giuliani. He’s a vivid example of the corrosive impact politics has on so many of its practitioners. It takes them, country in tow, to low places.