WHEN YOUR PERSONALITY HANDS YOU BORDERLINE-PSYCHOTIC ANGER-MANAGEMENT ISSUES, GET SOMEONE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES TO HELP YOU MAKE BORDERLINE-PSYCHOTIC ANGER-MANAGEMENT-ADE
Temperament, for Rudy Giuliani, is now officially a non-issue: Michael Powell, a reporter who's covered Rudy in the past, has declared in The New York Times that he's a changed man, tough yet firm, steadfast yet warm and fuzzy, and that will now be carved in stone as conventional wisdom:
The dyspeptic, "not afraid to suggest his opponents have really deep-seated psychological problems" Republican mayor of fact and legend has taken a holiday. What's left on the presidential campaign trail is a commanding daddy of a candidate, a disciplined fellow who talks about terrorism and fiscal order and about terrorism some more.
That attack on Ron Paul in the last GOP debate? Never happened, apparently. We just imagined it.
And never mind the fact that he still tells people they're stupid:
"Ma'am, I really respectfully disagree," the former mayor tells [a questioner]. "Maybe I'll answer your question with a question. Respectfully, again, I don't think you understand the nature of the threat."
And psychologically impaired:
He has not sanded down all his edges. At Oglethorpe University here, where he met with 200 voters, he does not hesitate to challenge that woman who asks about jihad. But he does so in a fashion that leaves her ambulatory....
"This is reality, ma'am," he continues, his voice streaked with just a touch of exasperation. "This isn't me making it up. I saw reality after 9/11. You've got to clear your head."
The new Giuliani is the old Giuliani. As mayor he was rarely if ever Joe Pesci from a Scorsese Mob movie, ranting and raving at the top of his lungs at the slightest provocation. In most of his nasty attacks he didn't raise his voice, and he used respectful words even as he was calling his opponents insane or otherwise unfit. (His most potent weapon was the power of his office -- he'd freeze you out, sue you, or deploy the cops or if you crossed him. He wasn't some guy in a muscle shirt who'd beat the crap out of you in an alley.)
Yes, there was the famous radio attack on the ferret owner during Rudy's mayoralty. In that incident, Giuliani raised his voice. But listen to the entire audio clip of the ferret exchange -- at the end, Rudy speaks in a way that seems calm and expresses deep concern for the caller in a way that differs from what he says to the woman at Oglethorpe University only in degree:
...There are people in this city and in this world that need a lot of help. There's something has gone wrong with you. Your compulsion about it, your obsessive concern with it, is the sign of something wrong in your personality. I do not mean to be insulting. I'm trying to be honest with you and I'm trying to give you advice for your own good....
In other words, "You've got to clear your head" -- same message.
At the end of the video that accompanies the Times story, Powell makes an important point that he doesn't really make in the written story, and that therefore won't become part of the legend:
The Giuliani that we're seeing on the stump right now is an extremely disciplined campaigner, very much unlike the man that New Yorkers saw on a sort of daily or weekly basis in New York, but very much like the candidate that ran in 1993. 1993 was Giuliani's second try for the mayoralty. He had run against Dinkins in 1989. In 1993, the assumption was, on the Democrats' part, that they were going to be able to force him to snap, and that this would so horrify voters that it would assure Dinkins of a second term. In fact, Giuliani ran -- much as he is right now -- a pretty disciplined campaign, in which he didn't snarl, didn't curl a lip.
But if he didn't scream and shout in the '93 campaign and was subsequently a vindictive sonofabitch for eight years as mayor, that means his ability to keep outbursts in check is no indication whatsoever of how angry he can get. He just knows how to control the outward appearance of his anger, and he knows when he needs to do so.
To me that suggests that the temperament, Giuliani's temperament, is as much an element of sort of stagecraft as it is woven into his essential personality. In other words, he can turn it on, he can turn it off.
But it's not "stagecraft." It's pathology. Rudy's like a wife-beater -- he knows how to look completely rational when the cops show up at the door; he also knows how to slip in one barbed word when he and his wife are in public, so she knows who's boss (and who's going to be boss when they get home) but the people around him don't think he's a psycho.
But it doesn't matter what the truth is. Giuliani's anger is now a positive. It's like Bush's drinking -- it enhances Rudy's myth because he's reportedly risen above it. Even though, in fact, he hasn't.
UPDATE: You probably don't need me to direct you to good posts about this article by Digby and Lambert at CorrenteWire -- but you should also check out dnA's post at Too Sense, which explains why Giuliani is America's baby daddy, and America's pimp.