The Crazed Clown
If we really are a Torture Nation, the moment this will go beyond argument is when Rudy Giuliani is sworn into the presidency on my dad's 66th birthday, January 20, 2009. Giuliani, to a greater extent even than George W. Bush, is the embodiment of all the worst deficiencies in the American character: unbearably arrogant and self-righteous, incapable of self-reflection or second thoughts, dishonest, and perhaps above all cruel.
Like many New Yorkers, I grew entirely sick of these flaws during the second half of Giuliani's mayoralty. The excesses of the police were matched only by the excesses of the mayor himself, constantly looking for new enemies against which to define himself. Ultimately, New York magazine, the Brooklyn Museum, and ferrets--not to mention his second wife--didn't prove as suitable as squeegee men and welfare cheats had been. But at the figurative eleventh hour, he found an enemy worthy of his abundant hate, and leveraged the unspeakable tragedy of September 11 into, first, many millions of dollars, and then a political resurrection.
On the merits, there is no way Giuliani should even be under consideration for high office. Beyond the failings of his own character, he was a bad judge of others' character, and despite the constant touting of his own executive experience, he wrecked the city's finances and made a mess of a number of key city agencies. But his confrontational temperament is better suited to the angry, fearful mood of today's Republican party than any of his competitors', and that willingness to loudly and ostentatiously hate--Muslims, liberals, the press, taxes, anyone and everyone who angries up the righties' blood--could be enough.
The New Republic recently ran two very good pieces on Giuliani. The first is a devastating analysis of his economic views, which come fairly close to making Bush look like Tip O'Neill. The second is a terrific and surprisingly even-handed analysis of Giuliani's views on "freedom and authority," and how his worldview played out over eight years in City Hall. Both highly recommended.