Why Rudy Giuliani Should Not Be President
Jim Sleeper, a New York neoconservative, has an article at TPM Cafe detailing the reasons why Rudy Giuliani should not be President.
While admitting that Giuliani did have several stunning successes as Mayor of New York even before September 11th, Sleeper argues that the style of governing revealed by his tenure as Mayor should raise serious concerns in the mind of anyone who cares about civil liberties and limits on executive power:
The first serious problem is structural and political: A man who fought the inherent limits of his mayoral office as fanatically as Giuliani would construe presidential prerogatives so broadly heâ€™d make George Bushâ€™s notions of â€œunitaryâ€ executive power seem soft.
Even in the 1980s, as an assistant attorney general in the Reagan Justice Department and U.S. Attorney in New York, Giuliani was imperious and overreaching, He made the troubled daughter of a state judge, Hortense Gabel, testify against her mother and former Miss America Bess Meyerson in a failed prosecution charging, among other things, that Meyerson had hired the judgeâ€™s daughter to bribe help â€œexpediteâ€ a messy divorce case. The jury was so put off by Giulianiâ€™s tactics that it acquitted all concerned, as the Washington Postâ€™s Ruth Marcus recalled ten years later in assessing Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starrâ€™s subpoena of Monica Lewinskyâ€™s mother to testify against her daughter.
At least, as U.S. Attorney, Giuliani served at the pleasure of the President and had to defer to federal judges. Were he the President, U.S. Attorneys would serve at his pleasure — a dangerous arrangement in the wrong hands, weâ€™ve learned — and heâ€™d pick the judges to whom prosecutors defer.
As mayor, Giuliani fielded close aides like a fast and sometimes brutal hockey team, micro-managing and bludgeoning city agencies and even agencies that werenâ€™t his, like the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Board of Education. They deserved it richly enough to make his bravado thrilling to many of us, but it wasnâ€™t very productive. And while this Savonarola disdained even would-be allies in other branches of government, he wasnâ€™t above cutting indefensible deals with crony contractors and pandering shamelessly to some Hispanics, orthodox Jews, and other favored constituencies.
Even Giuliani’s signature moment, the aftermath of September 11th, is, Sleeper argues, troubling:
Giulianiâ€™s 9/11 performance was sublime for the unnerving reason that heâ€™d been rehearsing for it all his adult life and remains trapped in that stage role. When his oldest friend and deputy mayor Peter Powers told me in 1994 that 16-year-old Rudy had started an opera club at Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn, I didnâ€™t have to connect too many of the dots Iâ€™d been seeing to begin noticing that Giuliani at times acted like an opera fanatic whoâ€™s living in a libretto as much as in the real world.
In private, Rudy can contemplate the human comedy with a Machiavellian princeâ€™s supple wit. But when he walks on stage, he tenses up so much that even his efforts to lighten up seem labored. What drove him as mayor was a zealotâ€™s graceless division of everyone into friend or foe and his snarling, sometimes histrionic, vilifications of the foes. Those are operatic emotions, beneath the civic dignity of a great city and its chief magistrate.
Most of America only knows Rudy Giuliani from the events of September 2001. His tenure as Mayor, and more importantly as U.S. Attorney, however paint the picutre of someone who has an expansive, almost limitless view of executive power, and zeal to turn almost anything into a crusade.Â Based on his record, it is clear that a Preisdent Giuliani would be an authoritarian pro-government leader along the lines of Theodore Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and George W. Bush.
There have been some, one frequent commentor on this blog in particular, who have claimed that Giuliani is a “libertarian Republican.” I’ve responded more than once that even a curosory examination of his record as Mayor would demonstrate that that simply isn’t the case. With Giuliani taking the lead in the race for the nomination now, one can imagine that more evidence in support of that proposition will come to light.
H/T: Hit & Run