The Sad Ballad of Rudy Giuliani


(Originally published on Pecorino & Eggs on February 7th 2017)

Last week, former New York City mayor turned cyber security expert, Rudolph Giuliani claimed Donald Trump wanted “a Muslim ban” and ordered Giuliani himself to assemble a commission to show him “the right way to do it legally.”  Giuliani, appearing on Fox News, eagerly recalled the  details of a phone call that allegedly took place between him and the president.

For the full interview, click here.

Giuliani, speculated by many to be the next Secretary of State before removing himself from contention, said, “When (Trump) first announced it, he said, ‘Muslim ban.’  He called me up.  He said, ‘Put a commission together.  Show me the right way to do it legally.’”  Giuliani, who himself has a difficult relationship with legalitytook almost grotesque pleasure in relaying the details.  He explained the story as if conveying an anecdote from summer camp, inexplicably unaware he was divulging the fact Mr. Trump knew what he was doing, and knew it was based off of religious discrimination.  Perhaps it’s because of Giuliani’s obliviousness why he rose so meteorically and fell so catastrophically during Trump’s campaign, and subsequent victory.

Or perhaps it’s because Rudy Giuliani has a history of making inflammatory statements—statements that, over the years, have become more and more fantastical.  For example, even though Rudy’s father did a stint in Sing Sing prison for felony assault and robbery, and even though that father later became an enforcer for an organized crime family in NewYork, Giuliani claimed former President Obama “doesn’t love America” because he wasn’t brought up right.  He also claimed the Central Park Five—five black and Latino men falsely accused of rape and assault and later exonerated through DNA evidence—were still guilty because, after all, they were “criminals and engaged in criminal activity.”  This statement came even though there was no empirical evidence to support such a claim. 

 Or what about that time, when questioned about the shootings of unarmed, black men, he said, “White police officers wouldn’t be there if black people weren’t killing each other.”  Therefore, categorically claiming the reason unarmed black men are relentlessly murdered by white cops is because they’re doing it to themselves.  It’s possible because of these, and many other inflammatory statements, he wasn’t asked to be a cabinet member to either George W. Bush’s presidency or Donald Trump’s current fiasco.  But I'm not inclined to believe that.  

Then if it's not his inflammatory statements, perhaps it’s because of his questionable ethics and actions during his tenure as mayor of New York City.  This is the same mayor who sought an increase in fines for jaywalkers, constructed pedestrian barricades, ordered the arrest of homeless men and women found sleeping in public places, saying, “Streets do not exist in civilized societies for the purpose of sleeping there.  Bedrooms are for sleeping,” and spent city funds escorting his mistress from Long Island to Manhattan.  An out of touch mayor is not an anomaly in America, but a mayor with such little basis in reality is the definition of Rudy Giuliani.  But reality has never been a strong fixture in Donald Trump’s world, so I’d be hard-pressed to believe it’s this that sunk Giuliani’s cabinet hopes. 

After 9/11, Giuliani became both a local and national hero, taking to the streets to assure the people they would rise again and that sheer New York will would be the foundation for their cure.  But, sadly for Rudy, this adoration didn’t last long.  He falsely claimed, after the attack, he was the only politician at Ground Zero—chastising then-New York Senator Hillary Clinton for her lack of action—even though, unfortunately for Rudy, she marched next to him hours after the attack.  

But perhaps the most harmful action Giuliani took post-9/11 was during the city’s cleanup efforts.  Despite the arrival of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Army Corp of Engineers, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)—all with extensive disaster response experience—Giuliani dismissed the groups and assigned the Ground Zero cleanup to the largely unknown city agency, the Department of Design and Construction (DDC).  Giuliani and the DDC claimed the air quality around Ground Zero was “safe,” even though records show the city was aware of the danger from the start.  In a federal court deposition, Kelly R. McKinney, associate commissioner at the city’s health department, issued a statement claiming she gave the city an advisory of asbestos in the air and warned of its hazards.  FEMA, the Army Corp, and the OSHA instructed all workers at Ground Zero to wear respirators, an instruction Giuliani and the DDC ignored.  Since the cleanup, dozens of those workers have become ill.  According to the New York Times, 70% of the nearly 10,000 cleanup crew screened at Mount Sinai Medical Center had trouble breathing and healthcare costs related to such illnesses have run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.  As crazy as this sounds: it’s hard to believe even this colossal fuck-up was the reason Trump steered away from Giuliani. 

After all, Giuliani was one of Trump’s staunchest proponents at the start of the shaky campaign—a campaign in which nobody seemed eager to latch on to.  Rudy was like Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire, when Tom Cruise is yelling, “Who’s coming with me?” and all he got was a low-level secretary.  

But Trump used Giuliani as Trump does and he got Rudy to deliver some truly astonishing sound bites, including—and oh my god, this is absolutely what he said—“There were no radical Islamic terrorist attacks while George W. Bush was president.” Giuliani, seemingly unaware he’s acted as the RNC’s puppet for the last decade and a half, has happily taken to the airwaves to shout nonsense I’m not even sure he believes.  He bungles simple sentences, he blathers on about the true meaning of patriotism, and he instills fear whenever handed the opportunity—like that time he said his friend was afraid to go to London because, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton had created an unsafe world

Let's set all of this aside.  Consider them innocuous facts and unfortunate incidences when being considered for a cabinet position.  And let's also set aside the fact that a several hundred page document written by Giuliani's campaign staff was leaked to the press citing the candidate's vulnerabilities.  And let's also set aside the fact that this steadfast patriot was a willful Vietnam draft dodger.  And let's note that, as a Republican, Giuliani often strayed from the pack.  He believes in the teaching of evolution, was a proponent for gun control saying a mandatory waiting period for a handgun was a “sensible and moderate” solution.  He’s come out in support of gay marriage, he supports the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, he’s expressed pro-choice positions during his campaigns in 1989, 1993, 2000, and 2008, and, during his time as mayor, fought for the rights of illegal immigrants—calling for them to be allowed to use public schools and even pressed for a $12,000,000 grant to start a city agency that would help illegal immigrants gain citizenship

It’s possible these deviations from the Republican norms is what eventually killed any chance he had at a cabinet position.  Or perhaps he’s just too goddamn unlikable.  Rudy, the RNC, other members of the Republican party, Fox News, and now Donald Trump treat you like that nerd in high school.  You ask the pretty girl to prom and she says “yes” only to ditch you as soon as something only slightly better comes along.  I’d like to say it’s nothing personal, but we both know that's not true.

Why is Giuliani forever alone in the world of politics?  I don’t know.  But I do know that when he’s eventually cast aside like a rotten piece of cube steak, the networks open up and grant him full autonomy, eager for him to make baseless claim after baseless claim, infuriating the left, provoking the activists, and titillating the right.  Rudy, you are a puppet’s puppet, fighting the battles only to be forgotten.  Your ballad is sad and long, and, unfortunately for us all, there is no end in sight.