Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Rudy Giuliani:American Idol

This excerpt from Rep. Christopher Shays' (R) questioning of during a hearing yesterday clearly crystallized for me the ongoing and unquestioning idolization of Rudy Giuliani:
SHAYS: I can't help but wonder how different the answers would be -- excuse me; you're blocking me -- if someone like Rudy Giuliani had been in your position instead of you, I think he would have done things differently and I think his answers to us would have been very different.
I can't help but thinking about the number of times I've heard, in the wake of the disaster, how this entire episode has boosted chances of being the Republican nominee in '08 or even the next President. I've heard it countless times. So many people are galvanizing behind this notion.

I agree that Giuliani was a strong presence, a comforting leader on the scene after 9/11 and that he distinguished himself at the time. Leading up to that attack, however, I don't recall people being so enamored with him. In fact, his high-profile divorce and illness had made him somewhat of a politico whose time was almost up. Then 9/11 happened, and his political fortune (not to mention his subsequent personal fortune) skyrocketed in everyone's estimation.

But recall how he quickly fell back into his "foot in mouth" mode when during the Fall of 2001 he tried to get himself reappointed as Mayor, extra-legally, despite his term being up and while the haze of glory still enveloped him. As I recall, his feeble attempt was quickly rebuffed and chalked up to an emblematic Rudy episode...making the mistake of reaching a step too far.

But back to this idolatry we are nevertheless witnessing and the storyline of the great leader riding back onto the scene to save an America in disarray. I recall a certain other federal leader by the name of who also basked in the glow of 9/11, who had a legendary bullhorn moment in the midst of the rubble of the World Trade Center, surrounded by firemen, and who milked that moment for all it was worth. The majority of Americans re-elected him largely based upon the myth of the strong leadership he demonstrated. The same 9/11 leadership halo that George W. Bush laid claim to is the same that has been accorded Giuliani all this time.

And yet we all know what has happened to George W. Bush in the wake of the Katrina disaster. The strong leader that many thought they had in their President was exposed as a myth. That myth was a product of projection and careful stage management.

So my point is simply that people might want to be a little more suspicious of the unquestioning lionization of Rudy Giuliani. As we have witnessed on a grand scale, such reverence can lead to great disappointment.