Monday, November 05, 2007

# Posted 5:13 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

NUANCED GIULIANI-BASHING: As McCain supporter, I might be expected to take every shot I can at Rudolph Giuliani. Last week, a Washington Post/ABC poll showed McCain running second to Giuliani, closer than both Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney. As a loyal supporter, shouldn't I do my utmost to knock Giuliani off the perch that once belonged to McCain?

Maybe if the criticism were more persuasive, but John Judis of The New Republic has really done a third-rate job of trying to brand Giuliani as an extremist while praising him just enough to be fair enough for the pages of TNR. In his profile, Judis accuses Giuliani of nothing less than “a reluctance to cede power and a contempt for the democratic process.”

Judis makes it sound like Giuliani is some sort of Putin. Judis basically argues that Giuliani's first term as mayor was a success, but then his inner demons prevailed. After being re-elected:
Giuliani decided that he needed to suppress not only petty criminals, but also jaywalkers, street vendors, speeding bicycle messengers, and reckless taxi drivers. "If we don't act in a civil manner here, we can't thrive as individuals or as the capital of the world," Giuliani announced in February 1998. Giuliani's new campaign, billed "Creating a More Civil City," was met with strikes from cab drivers and food vendors, as well as angry reactions from citizens threatened with arrest for jaywalking. Giuliani finally gave up on it, but, the next year, he took on the New York art scene. He tried to stop the Brooklyn Museum from putting on a provocative show, "Sensation," which he called "sick stuff." Giuliani's attempt to cut off city funding for the museum and fire its trustees was defeated in court...

Andrew Kirtzman attributes Giuliani's threats against the Brooklyn Museum to a desire to curry favor with upstate New Yorkers whose votes he would have needed to win the 2000 Senate election against Hillary Clinton. And, indeed, Giuliani currently brags about his bid to shut down the exhibit when trying to woo social conservatives. But this move, like his poorly executed expansion of the Street Crime Unit and his crusade against street vendors and jaywalkers, was consistent with Giuliani's growing commitment to use his authority at the expense of liberty.
It reminds me of that famous poem by Martin Niemoller about the Third Reich. First they came for the street vendors, and nobody protested. Then they came for the jaywalkers and nobody protested. Then they came for the Art Museum and nobody protested. Finally, they came for me and there was nobody left to protest.

I tend to agree that Giuliani’s threats against the Brooklyn Museum were a political stunt. That’s not my kind of politics. But rather than any sort of contempt for the democratic process, it shows that Giuliani will engage in the sort of pandering that is part of our proud democratic tradition.

But worse was yet to come:
Perhaps the most telling example of Giuliani's attempt to expand his authority came after September 11. In the crisis created by the terrorist attacks, Giuliani excelled as a leader. He was calm and eloquent, a voice of reassurance while the president, aloft in Air Force One, remained curiously silent. But, even before the dust had settled over Ground Zero, Giuliani began lobbying the New York legislature to repeal the city's two-term limit so he could run again, while simultaneously pressuring the candidates vying for his office to accept a 90-day extension of his term. Giuliani's moves showed a reluctance to cede power and a contempt for the democratic process. It was a demonstration of how far he would go in the pursuit of authority.
Lobbying. Pressuing. Forgive me for sounding a bit cynical, but does that represent contempt for the democratic process, or what democratic politics usually consists of?

Coming from Judis and TNR, this kind of exaggeration makes me think that Democrats don’t have too much ammunition when it comes to Giuliani’s record. And if Giuliani were nominated, his campaign could proudly observe that even excessive critics like Judis credit him with:

The broken windows theory [of law enforcement] fit Giuliani's view of liberty and authority. It meant that, in order to create order and encourage moral liberty, citizens would have to allow the police to discourage behavior that was often only marginally illegal.

Giuliani hired Bratton, Boston's police chief, to put the strategy into practice -- and, supplemented by the innovative use of computers to single out and target high-crime neighborhoods, it had a dramatic effect on New York's crime rate. Giuliani's detractors would later say that the decline began under Dinkins, but that is misleading. The city's murder rate reached an all-time high in 1990, then declined slightly over the next two years. But it was only after Giuliani took office that the crime rate declined precipitously -- starting in 1994, when it fell by 12 percent. New York's reduction in crime also far exceeded the national average -- 16 percent in the first half of 1995 compared to one percent nationally.

Giuliani enjoyed similar success in driving the Mafia out of both the Fulton Fish Market and the commercial garbage business. He also reduced fraud in New York's welfare rolls -- no small accomplishment. From 1989 to 1995, more than 270,000 New Yorkers were added to the welfare rolls. After Giuliani instituted fingerprint checks and home visits in 1995 -- an infringement on liberty to be sure -- the welfare rolls declined by 18 percent the first year.

Giuliani easily won reelection in 1997 and enjoyed widespread popularity -- even in parts of the black community. Black leaders like the Reverend Floyd Flake appreciated that Giuliani's policing methods -- however intrusive -- had revived neighborhoods that had been riven by drugs and guns. As journalist Andrew Kirtzman put it in his book on the Giuliani years, "The essential truth of '97 -- that life on the streets was calmer, safer, saner -- was just as relevant to the poor of Bed-Sty as to the prosperous of Brooklyn Heights.”

I grew up in New York City. I lived there until 1995 and visited often until 1999. What happened in New York seemed like a miracle. A city condemned to persistent failure and decline suddenly discovered its former glory. It really felt like the greatest city in the world.

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(11) opinions -- Add your opinion

Anyone who supports McCain is not a conservative, is not someone who believes in freedom, is not someone who believes in smaller government.
If he thinks he is and supports McCain, he is a fool.
McCain/Feingold abolish free speech/incumbency protection act.
Enough said.
''I lived there until 1995 and visited often until 1999. What happened in New York seemed like a miracle. A city condemned to persistent failure and decline suddenly discovered its former glory. It really felt like the greatest city in the world.''

Awesome, you lived there 'til '95 and it discovered its former glory. Like, full of nascent middle-class hipster intellectuals interested in politics and the internet and blogs and...oh wait, that's YOU DAVID. NEW YORK SUCKS NOW! Thanks!
The two-term limit is a City law, not a State law, so it would be overturned by the City Council, not the State legislature. Anyway, I don't remember Giuliani trying to get that changed, although he did try (by democratic means) to get his term extended. I think Judis is just lying. Don't they have fact checkers at that magazine? (Bwa-ha-ha!)
Guliani's approach to crime sounds like a domestic version of a COIN operation to me...

Looks like it worked.
When I look at presidential candidates I look at only one thing: What kind of Commander-in-Chief would he be? That is the President's primary job, particularly when we are at war. Giuliani, IMO, has shown his ability to be C-in-C.

He is no angel, but none of the other candidates, except Romney, are. Unless I find out he's a total sleaze betwen now and 2008, he has my vote.
What a day. I've been denounced as un-conservative and promoted to being a hipster. I never thought I'd make it! Do I have to go out now and buy some retro-looking glasses and allow my stubble to grow in?

But I have to protest the term 'middle-class'. I clearly am and always have been upper middle-class and do not like being associated with the lumpen-bourgeoisie.

PS New York kicks ass. That supremely substantive argument should settle this debate.
Liberals love to hate Giuliani -- so much so that it's going to be a problem for your guy. How can he win over Republican primary voters when Rudy is picking up kudos like this :

He's like a gang leader now, roving the streets, looking for some punk to bash. Iran will do.

That's a hard act to follow.
lol, i'll second what david said...
I lived in CT in 1987 and visited NYC shortly after moving away. The next time I got to NYC was 1996, and I could hardly believe I was accurately remembering what it had been like nine years earlier. The "night and day" metaphore hardly does justice.
'PS New York kicks ass. That supremely substantive argument should settle this debate.'

Yea, if you like 'neighborhood gentrification' and Sex and the City.

If I have to read, one more time, about new york kids liking gourmet food, hidden nightclubs, sushi bars, artisan cheese shops or....whatever, I might kill myself.

New York is pretty lame now. Taylor and David, where do you guys go that so 'kicks ass'? Any cool places that I should know about?

Or just John Mayer concerts and Rockefeller center? ok.
I don't like McCain or Giuliani, but this arguement in TNR is pretty weak, I'll agree.

The arguement that a city is more alive with an active criminal class, and that street people harrassing ordinary folk is good is an amusing idea not held by actual people. So-called 'sophisticates' who live behind gates in their wealthy enclaves are not actually real. They pop in and out of their guarded towers, bleat about 'diversity' and then go back to their monochrome battery cabinets. They are the first harbingers of the secret robot invasion, and they do a very poor job of pretending to be human.

If they were a more clever program, they'd realize that true diversity comes when each person can flower....safely. Law and order is a prerequisite of true diversity.
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