Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I missed this a month ago when it was announced, but now it's about to happen: tomorrow night Saint Rudolph Giuliani will headline a fundraiser for Ralph Reed, who's running for lieutenant governor of Georgia.

Gee, I guess white-collar crime doesn't bother Rudy as much as it did when he was using it to grab headlines. Lifelong friendship and sleazy business deals with Jack Abramoff? No problem, Ralph!


And I guess the odd-couple love affair between the religious right and the pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-gun control (and, for good measure, pro-immigrant) ex-mayor is still going hot and heavy. In addition to Reed, there's Pat Robertson, who said last year that Giuliani would make "a good president." And even when Jerry Falwell told us recently that he won't back a Giuliani presidential bid, he couldn't stop praising Rudy:

"Everybody admires him. And I'll never forget the great things he did on 9/11 and following," Falwell said....

"I'll never speak an ill word about him because he means so much to America. But, yes, you're right. I couldn't support him for president," he said.

And the red-state rank-and-file loves him.

Is this surprising? No. The rage junkies of the GOP right crave a man on a horse, a man in jackboots who'll say in no uncertain terms who's good and who's evil, and Giuliani is, in many ways, exactly what they're looking for. He's much more so than John McCain, which is why they love him and hate McCain, who has a much more compatible voting record. Needless to say, they loved Giuliani's convention speech.

Social issues aside, Giuliani is just about everything right-wingers have ever admired about Bush and Cheney, plus even more self-righteousness and surface anger. They may not know the details out in the heartland, but I think they sense this about him, and they're right.

Consider one of his ugliest, most thuggish acts, the illegal revelation of a juvenile arrest found on the (sealed) record of Patrick Dorismond, who was shot and killed by police after he refused to buy drugs in an undercover sting. Isn't that a perfect Valerie Plame moment? Rudy said the illegally released information proved that Dorismond was "no altar boy." (In fact, he'd been an altar boy.) That remark could have come from the margins of Dick Cheney's copy of Joe Wilson's op-ed.

Or consider this 1999 Salon article, in which John Leonard describes Giuliani as an ur-Bush/Cheney:

...In March 1995, a wall of cops surrounded City Hall, with horses, scooters, nightsticks, riot gear, barricades and Mace, to keep 20,000 high school and college students from marching on Wall Street. That June, Rudy kicked Yasir Arafat out of Lincoln Center. The following May, he would use armored cars against homeless squatters. The first official act of his second term, last New Year's Day, was to close his own inauguration to the public....

In May, when street artists whom he'd hounded from the city sidewalks tried to heckle his appearance at Cooper Union, they were arrested.... In December, demonstrators seeking to observe World AIDS Day and mourn the 77,000 New Yorkers who've died of the disease were likewise denied a permit to rally in City Hall Park, and likewise went to court to win their case. Then, when 150 of them showed up, they had to pass through motorcycle cops and metal detectors before they arrived at a parking lot surrounded by a brand-new eight-foot chain-link penitentiary fence and looked down upon by sharpshooters.

Nor was it an accident that the organizer of the rally, Housing Works, had already seen its $6.5 million worth of contracts with the city canceled. Why should a thrift-shop sponsor of drug treatment, job training and employment programs for homeless people with HIV expect anything better from Rudy...?

And that was before the Christian-right-friendly attempt to evict the Brooklyn Museum for hosting an exhibit that offended the mayor even though his administration had reviewed its contents in detail and OK'd them.

Sorry -- I get long-winded when I start talking about Rudy. But everybody in New York knows he wants to run for president, he polls extremely well among Republicans, and he beat Hillary in New York in the most recent Marist poll. The zealots in the party don't want a "RINO," but I still wonder whether they can be seduced by a social liberal if he's also a dangerous authoritarian -- especially given the fact that he could conceivably win every blue state.

(Oh, by the way, if you want to know what Rudy thinks of NSA spying, here's his rave review.)

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