There was a time not so long ago (but that feels like ages gone by) when Rudy Giuliani was one of the most respected public officials in America.
A moderate northeastern Republican in the mold of a Nelson Rockefeller, Giuliani was popular enough to win two consecutive terms as mayor in a heavily Democratic city. His claim to fame — instituting policies that helped decrease New York’s awful crime rate and open the city for business — was about as legendary as his rocky personal life and messy divorces that splashed across the front pages of the tabloids.
After the September 11 terrorist attacks, Giuliani’s status rose exponentially. His crisis management skills were perhaps a bit overhyped, but you couldn’t deny that he took control of the situation and helped lead a city that was absolutely traumatized out of the rubble. He was picked by Time to be its Person of the Year in 2001 and dubbed “America’s Mayor” for his heroic response to the attacks — a name he tried unsuccessfully to upgrade to “America’s President” in 2008.
Giuliani’s reputation in 2016 couldn’t be more different than it was 15 years ago. Today, he’s turned into a Trump sycophant and a fear monger who sees an Islamic terrorist around every corner. “America’s Mayor” has morphed into a divisive politico who questions President Obama’s patriotism, wants to tag everyone who happens to be in a government database and screams like a maniac during a nationally televised convention speech. It’s the kind of behavior that leads people to write stories titled “What Happened to Rudy” and “Is Rudy Giuliani Losing His Mind?”
The answer to that last question is obvious: of course he hasn’t. The problem with Giuliani, as with Donald Trump and most of Trump’s surrogates on television, is that facts don’t matter anymore. His column this week in USA Today is a perfect illustration of the kind of trend we’ve seen throughout Trump’s campaign. Giuliani, like Trump, simplifies the terrorist threat as a disease that can only be treated by saying “radical Islamic terrorism” over and over again. And, he uses a distorted version of history to fit it into his political narrative.
Giuliani blames President Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s obsession with political correctness for the recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Orlando and New York. The Obama administration, he argues, is treating terrorism as a criminal activity rather than an act of war. Yet, Giuliani’s remedy to the terrorism disease is just as bad, if not more so: reverting to the George W. Bush days when America was on a never-ending war footing against bands of delusional religious zealots. What Giuliani describes as a “time for America to go on offense against radical Islamic terrorism at home and abroad” is a fancy way of saying “everybody panic!”
The remainder of Giuliani’s commentary is boilerplate stuff. His recommendation to boost cooperation and intelligence-sharing between the FBI and local police departments is a good one, but that’s really the only thing he has to offer other than bashing those weak-kneed liberal Democrats who care more about saying the right thing than keeping Americans safe (his interpretation, not mine).
Donald Trump presumably would kick all of these weak-kneed Democrats in the groin, say “the hell with political correctness,” and bolster America’s armed forces – all the while sending the military a blank check with instructions to eliminate every last terrorist that happened to take a potshot at America. The fact that terrorism cannot be eliminated, only diminished, is apparently over Giuliani’s head, as is the fact that President Bush’s way of doing things only made terrorism stronger.
But facts be damned. Vote Trump!