Sunday, July 22, 2007


I lived through Giuliani's unsuccessful 1989 campaign for mayor as well as his eight years in office after his victory in '93, but Michael Powell, in his long New York Times article today, recalls a Giuliani I don't remember -- one who, in the 1980s and early in his unsuccessful 1989 campaign for mayor, actually reached out to African-Americans ... at least during the period when he thought the Democratic candidate for mayor would be the racially polarizing Ed Koch rather than the man who'd go on to be New York's first black mayor, David Dinkins. Early in that campaign, when Koch seemed likely to win renomination, Rudy wanted to pour oil on troubled waters:

The Giuliani of this period ... attacked Mr. Koch for calling Mr. Dinkins "a Jesse Jackson Democrat." These, he said, were racial "code words."

But when Dinkins won the Democratic primary, all that changed:

When Mr. Dinkins called Mr. Giuliani, who served in the Justice Department, a "Reagan Republican," he fired back. His campaign ran an ad in a Jewish newspaper with a photo of Mr. Dinkins and Mr. Jackson, a year after Mr. Jackson made a comment widely seen as anti-Semitic. Mr. Giuliani began calling Mr. Dinkins "a Jesse Jackson Democrat."

Al Sharpton says Giuliani was quite willing to meet with him in the 1980s -- and "I was a lot more radical then," Sharpton adds. But after the 1989 Democratic primary, once he no longer needed to contrast himself with Koch, Giuliani became more and more hostile to blacks, and he froze out even the most moderate black leaders for eight years.


What you may hear is "Oh, Giuliani just did this to win white votes, knowing he'd never win black votes. It just shows that his so-called racism was on the surface." But if you lived through that era, you know he relished the war with the African-American community; the poisonous atmosphere really energized him. Don't listen to anyone who makes this argument.

Think about Giuliani and blacks the way you think about Bush and Democrats -- sure, Bush made deals with the opposition party back in Texas, but once he discovered partisan zealotry, it became like a drug for him. It tapped a deep well of scary, primitive anger and stubbornness in his personality. A few idiot pundits still think the old bipartisan Bush will someday come back to us, but that'll never happen -- partisan rage just keeps pounding away at the pleasure centers in his brain.

The same is true for Giuliani and racism -- and Giuliani seems to derive even more pleasure from anger than Bush does.

What's scary here is that Giuliani and Bush may have each reverted to angry intransigence initially as a mere political tactic -- and It became the central element of their governing style because they both found out they really enjoyed it.

No comments: