I am obscurely reassured to find that footage of Rudy Giuliani in drag is available through YouTube. I knew it existed. I remembered seeing it broadcast years ago, not long after it was taken. As I observed to Patrick at the time, Giuliani is far too comfortable in skirts and high heels. He practically glows.
(Do I have a problem with cross-dressers? Not a bit. I have a problem with Giuliani. Do I think his adventures in costume are the most objectionable thing about him? No, not hardly. Leave that for another time. What I’m trying to get across here is just how weird the man is.)
For instance, here’s Giuliani on freedom, quoted in the New York Times, 17 March 1994:
“Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do and how you do it.”I agree that the rule of law is necessary to protect general social freedom, and that acknowledgement of the authority of the law is a necessary precondition to the rule of law; but “freedom is about authority” is a very odd formulation to derive from that. Giuliani’s big with the authority. He’s right, and you’re wrong, and therefore you’ll do as he says, even if he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and he’s completely disregarded legal procedures and basic constitutional provisions.
Anyway, when Rudy Giuliani started making presidential noises, I went to YouTube to have another look at footage of him playing Ginger Rogers. I figured there had to be some there from one or another of his little occasions. I was wrong.
That worried me. If Giuliani already had enough clout to interdict footage of himself in a wig and padded bra, we could all be in for a rocky ride. Giuliani’s crazier, more authoritarian, and nearly as vindictive and unprincipled as George Bush. He also works a lot harder. It’s a scary combination.
But now, yay, that footage is available—gone viral, even—so it looks like Rudy’s friends aren’t as powerful as I’d feared. What does that mean for you? It means you get Rudy in drag! And Rudy in drag getting mauled and smooched by Donald Trump, which is everyone’s favorite. There’s an article on the latter video by Williams Cole, who worked on the documentary Giuliani Time, from which the Trump clip was taken. Cole is politely dismayed that of all the material in that documentary, it’s Rudy canoodling with The Donald that everyone remembers. He is slightly mistaken. Rudy canoodling with The Donald is the part that no one can forget.
If you’re feeling a little sleazy about watching those videos and need a respectable reason to have watched them, try reading Jim Sleeper’s Why Rudy Giuliani Really Shouldn’t Be President, which proposes that this theatricality is a key to his character:
Fred Siegel, author of the Giuliani-touting Prince of the City, posed the problem recently when he wondered why, after Giuliani’s 1997 mayoral reelection, … he couldn’t “turn his Churchillian political personality down a few notches.”Mother Jones, which doesn’t like Giuliani at all, points us toward Slate’s slideshow essay about his various masquerades. It’s the web’s single best pictorial source on that subject. There’s a second Slate article about Giuliani’s appallingly messy and unnecessarily hurtful family life. (Have I mentioned that he’s terrible at kissing babies? When he tries it, he winds up looking like he’s being played by Armin Shimerman.) For additional pure weirdness, try the transcript of the ferret rant.
I’ll tell you why: Giuliani’s 9/11 performance was sublime for the unnerving reason that he’d been rehearsing for it all his adult life and remained 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 didn’t have to connect too many of the dots I was seeing to notice that Giuliani at times acted like an opera fanatic who’s living in a libretto as much as in the real world.
In private, Giuliani can contemplate the human comedy with a Machiavellian prince’s supple wit. But when he walks on stage, he tenses up so much that even though he can strike credibly modulated, lawyerly poses, his efforts to lighten up seem labored. What really drove many of his actions as mayor was a zealot’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.
… [O]nly on 9/11 did the whole city become as operatic as the inside of Rudy’s mind.
Q. Is weirdness a sufficient reason to damn Rudy Giuliani as a candidate?
A. Not when there are so many better reasons to do it.
Giuliani’s basic message is, “Give me the power and I will keep you safe.” On 9/11, millions of Americans whose brains had temporarily been rendered thermoplastic by shock imprinted on Rudy as The Guy Who Knew What Needed Doing. They remember shots of him striding decisively through the dusty canyons of the Financial District, paced by swarms of reporters babbling questions on all sides: Frank Capra out of Aaron Sorkin. Giuliani’s played on that ever since.
What most Americans still don’t grasp is how much of that disaster was Giuliani’s doing. See, for instance, Telegraph.co.uk’s Rudolph Giuliani would be “terrible” president, on Jerome Hauer’s comprehensive critique of Giuliani’s performance. Hauer is an expert on biological and chemical terrorism, and was New York’s Emergency Management Director—that is, Giuliani’s top antiterrorism guy—from 1996 to 2000. He didn’t go public with his accusations until Giuliani publicly blamed him for locating the city’s crisis control room in a vulnerable location that was a known terrorist target. Then Hauer blew up:
Mr Hauer, who now runs a consultancy firm, said that the former mayor vetoed his proposal to site the emergency command centre in Brooklyn as he wanted it to be within walking distance of his City Hall offices in Manhattan.That was the gist, but not the whole, of Mr. Hauer’s remarks. Giuliani & Co. slimed him in return, but the FDNY and various other organizations and experts have backed up Hauer’s version.
“Rudy would make a terrible president and that is why I am speaking now,” Mr Hauer told The Sunday Telegraph. “He’s a control freak who micro-manages decision, he has a confrontational character trait and picks fights just to score points. He is the last thing this country needs as president right now.”
The FDNY has been in a cold rage at Giuliani ever since 9/11. They’ve made a hard-hitting video about it. Note: close to the first two minutes of that thirteen-minute video consists of an FDNY talking head explaining that the video is factual, deeply felt, and politically non-partisan. If you already get that, you can skip it. The non-partisan part is because the FDNY has repeatedly been referred to in the national media as having Democratic sympathies. That’s just an attempt to deflect their criticisms of Giuliani and other Republican leaders. If the FDNY rank and file vote for Democrats, it’s because they live in New York. Their dislike of Giuliani is dislike of the man himself. His sins, as they see them:
1. The radios.In re the radios and the command center: it had been known since at least 1993, when the World Trade Center was first attacked, that the FDNY’s personal radios were inadequate. That’s bad. Firemen inside a burning building need to be in communication with their guys outside. That goes double if they’re working in highrises.
2. Insisting on siting the emergency command center in exactly the wrong place, and his poor leadership in general during the emergency.
3. Declaring that the air quality at Ground Zero wasn’t a hazard.
4. His callous treatment of their dead.
5. Building his further political career on his performance on 9/11 and his expertise at dealing with terrorist attacks.
For seven years, the Giuliani administration did nothing about the problem. Then they bought new radios. It was supposed to be an open bid. They only took bids from Motorola. The proposed radios were supposed to be tested by the FDNY under field conditions. They weren’t. After Motorola had been awarded the contract, the cost jumped from $1.4 million to $14 million.
This was at minimum blatant favoritism; but that wasn’t the real problem. From an article in Salon this past March:
[J]ust three months before the 9/11 attack, a city firefighter trapped in the basement of a burning house in Queens broadcast a mayday on a high-tech digital radio issued by his administration to replace the older variety.That is, using one of the new Motorola radios.
When firefighters battling the blaze didn’t hear his SOS—it was picked up only by radios carried by firefighters a couple of miles away—an uproar ensued. The firefighter survived, but the high-tech replacement radios, which had never been field-tested, were thus withdrawn, and the firemen went back to relying on their old radios, just in time for 9/11.It was a reasonable decision on their part. The firemen who couldn’t hear his SOS were in the street directly in front of the burning building.
And on Sept. 11, the faulty radios were just part of a tableau of dysfunction. Fire Department officials couldn’t communicate with police officials, whose helicopters had bird’s-eye views of the unstable towers poised to fall. Police and fire communications weren’t linked, and no one bothered to set up a unified police-fire command post on the street near the towers, which is Emergency Management 101.Literally. Setting up a unified command post to deal with large complex emergencies is part of a standard set of procedures followed by first responders throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the city’s emergency dispatchers fielded a flood of 911 calls from panicked World Trade Center workers and gave out the wrong advice, or just threw up their hands—:Do whatever you have to do, Sir.”I recommend an article called The Myth of Giuliani and 9/11, which for some reason was mostly published via Usenet newsgroups. Here’s their take on Giuliani’s failure:
Where was Rudy? He didn’t know what to do or where to go because he had put his emergency command center in exactly the wrong place. Against the advice of experts, he had built the emergency command center in the area most likely to be attacked, an area that had already been attacked, the 23rd floor of No. 7 World Trade Center. It was off-limits on the only day it was ever needed.
On 9/11 New York was left without an emergency command center because Giuliani, going against the advice of both the police and fire departments, decided to locate the center conveniently near City Hall in World Trade Center building 7, along with tanks containing tens of thousands of gallons of diesel fuel—in direct violation of New York City fire laws. This was despite the 1993 WTC bombing that proved it to be the number one terrorism target. It was this decision that put him on the street on 9/11 instead of inside a command center coordinating operations. Ironically, this also put him in front of hundreds of media cameras, sparking his image transformation into a “hero.”Sure, Rudy looked decisive and confident on 9/11. He’s always decisive and confident—like George Bush, or a compulsive gambler, or General Sedgwick.
While our “hero” was posing for the cameras, however, there was no communication possible between the police department and the fire department, whose REAL heroes were rushing to their deaths inside the towers. And there was likewise no communication between the police officers who identified an open stairway for escape from above the fire zone and the 911 phone operators who were telling soon-to-be-dead office workers to stay put and wait for the firefighters. Giuliani had been aware of the inadequacy of the emergency services’ communications equipment for many years, but did absolutely nothing about it. This criminal negligence also doomed hundreds of firefighters that were unable to hear orders to evacuate the north tower prior to collapse.
Whatever possibility existed for communication between the police and fire departments, whose radios operated on different frequencies, evaporated when Giuliani visited a makeshift fire/police command center that had formed in his absence. There he ORDERED THE POLICE BRASS TO LEAVE and accompany him uptown. This “heroic leadership” effectively put the fire department and police department commanders in different physical locations with no communication possible between them.
Present Police Commissioner Ray Kelly stated that he doesn’t have any idea who was in charge on 9/11 because Bernie Kerik and all the top chiefs in the police department basically acted as bodyguards to Giuliani and no one was running the shop.
MSNBC: Leaked memos show Giuliani’s ignorance of terrorism before 9/11. In campaign speeches, Giuliani claims to have recognized well before 9/11 that Osama bin Laden was a threat, but his testimony before the 9/11 Commission was one long confession of ignorance on that subject.But look at it this way: if Rudy’s political career tanks, he’ll always have showbiz to fall back on.
Washington Post: Giuliani’s Rhetoric on Terror Contrasts With His Record. Despite his claims, Giuliani’s pre-9/11 record shows no great interest in nor experience with terrorism.
The Huffington Post: Giuliani Resembles Bush on Terror War: “Like Bush on steroids.” Eavesdropping on citizens? He’s for it! The use of military force in Iran and Pakistan? He’s for it! No pullout from Iraq? He’s indubitably for it!
Mother Jones: Rudy Giuliani Has Advisers Who Would Bomb Iran Tomorrow:“I used to believe the most dangerous thing about Rudy Giuliani was the fact that, even though he has zero foreign policy experience, he thinks he knows everything there is to know about foreign policy. That’s a scary kind of ignorance.Salon: Giuliani’s Dangerous Bluster. Got an old mistake? He’ll clutch it to his bosom: We were on the verge of victory when we pulled out of Vietnam. We must deal with Iran “from a position of strength.” No support for Palestinian statehood until they demonstrate that they’ve earned it. And when Castro dies, we must help the Cuban people reclaim their liberty, and keep their corrupt regime from consolidating its power under Raul Castro.
“But I was wrong. The most dangerous thing about Rudy Giuliani is his advisers. They are crazy, crazy, crazy. Too crazy to work for Bush, even.”
The Nation: Rudy’s Dirty Money. Big Energy. Lots of money.
Talking Points Memo: Giuliani endorses Bush’s Social Security plan. That is: he wants to privatize Social Security.
Hilzoy, Obsidian Wings: Rudy Giuliani and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: That would be June 19th of this year, when it (1.) came out that Giuliani had been kicked out of the elite Iraq Study Group for skipping all their meetings in favor of doing lucrative speaking gigs; and (2.) his South Carolina campaign manager, state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, was suspended from his position after being indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.