The Oral Arguments About Giuliani

Thumbing through a new “oral bigraphy” entitled Giuliani: Flawed or Flawless?, I came across this colorful quote from Al Sharpton about the former mayor’s presidential bid:

“Rudy Giuliani is a power-hungry person. But I also think he knows that the honeymoon he’s had with the media since 9/11 would be over if he ran and had to defend things that they don’t now bring up. I think he’s going to flirt with it; I think he’s going to constantly keep himself in the papers because of his ego. But I don’t think he’ll ever pull the trigger because he knows that he will have to go back and explain everything – from Dorismond to Diallo to how his family separated – a lot of things he doesn’t want to explain. It’s better to live the reinvention than to have somebody move the veil and see that the wizard really isn’t the wizard. So right now, he can lead all the media and the national pundits on the Yellow Brick Road. He’d better never let us get near the veil. I know what’s back there; I’ve pierced it before.”

Sharpton is hardly an objective judge, but it seems inarguable that the longer Giuliani goes forward as a serious candidate, the less effective his 9/11 credentials will be in winning him friendly treatment from the press outside of New York.

Arguing from the opposite point of view in the book is Giuliani’s former adviser and biographer Fred Siegel, who says — to sum up simplistically — that Rudy has plenty of mayoral accomplishments that have nothing to do with fighting terrorism, but that a massive attack during the course of the presidential campaign wouldn’t hurt his chances, either.

“The pre-9/11 accomplishments haven’t gotten nearly enough attention because if you’re going to look at how he’d govern as president, you have to look at how he governed as mayor. And so it’s important to see how he operates – the kind of tight staff style he has, where he brings things together; he breaks down barriers. Giuliani is a student of government and I suspect that right now he’s studying the federal government. Our vulnerabilities are considerable. If, as we’re approaching the presidential campaign, you get something like today’s [July 7, 2005] London bombing, that will give his campaign an enormous boost.”

– Azi Paybarah