The former mayor tried to back-pedal the following day by acknowledging that he “could have said it better.” In the process, however, he got himself into more trouble: “I was there often enough so that every health consequence people have suffered, I could also be suffering,” he said.
A New York Times examination of official records found that Mr. Giuliani was at Ground Zero for around 29 hours from September 17 to December 16 2001. (Records were not kept before September 17.) A study of over 1000 September 11 rescue and recovery workers by the Mount Sinai Medical Center found that the median time those people spent at the site was 962 hours.
Small wonder, then, that Mr. Giuliani’s comments caused such anger among first-responders. They were variously described as “disgracefully insulting” and “self-absorbed and delusionary” by representatives of firefighters’ labor unions.
But Mr. Giuliani is willing to invoke the terrorist attacks to cover up for even the most trivial misstep.
When he came under criticism for the seemingly contrived cellphone conversation with his wife that ‘interrupted’ his speech to the NRA in September, he offered this defense in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network: “Quite honestly, since September 11, most of the time when we get on a plane we talk to each other and just reaffirm the fact that we love each other.”
To most Americans, September 11 is a tragedy, an outrage and a scar upon the nation. Mr. Giuliani, to be fair, probably feels those things too. But for him, the distinction between the events of that period and his own political reputation has long since been elided.
He has sought to use the greatest atrocity in living memory for his own advancement.
Therein, perhaps, lies the secret of his success. But it is also the reason why Mr. Giuliani’s campaign nauseates his opponents just as much as it thrills his supporters.
*The original version of this story contained an inaccurate quote taken from an AP story that was subsequently corrected.