Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rudy Finest Hour? Full text from Guardian

Rudy Giuliani's 9/11 paranoia Guardian

The former New York mayor's arrogance and authoritarianism are so strong that he makes Napoleon look modest.
Ian Williams

September 11, 2007 7:30 PM

If the present incumbent is anything to go by, Rudy Giuliani is indeed White House material. He has just that required peevish paranoia that ends up being very ineffectual. September 11 and stopping freelance windscreen washers in Manhattan are Giuliani's major claims to the presidency.

To be balanced, once he set the cops on the case, they did stop the bridge and tunnel shakedown from the bucket and rag-wielding brigade.

Unlike Mike Bloomberg, Giuliani was never seen on the subway, or without his security detail. Touchingly suburban, in Manhattan he blamed pedestrians for traffic jams and gridlock. In the run-up to the (hopelessly over-hyped) million youth march in Harlem, which he tried unsuccessfully to ban, he had barriers as strong as tank traps built around Gracie Mansion - even on the path next to the East River.

Well before 9/11 gave George Bush the excuses to assume power to save the state, Rudi was declaiming, "Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do." Big Brother put it shorter on the side of the Minitrue building, but he could not have been clearer.

The problem with his peeves and prejudices are that they do not add up to a coherent joined-up foreign policy. Speaking to West Bank Settlers' groups where others on the platform called for the expulsion of the Palestinians, may seem superficially similar to throwing Yasser Arafat out of a UN celebratory banquet to which he had been invited. While it may get Giuliani brownie points with a vociferous minority, it does not enhance his reputation for statesmanship.

But then denouncing anti-Catholicism in the form of an artwork in the Brooklyn Museum, and then accepting a knighthood from the Queen of England, whose heirs, by law, can neither be nor marry a Roman Catholic, betokens an expediently snobbish inconsistency.

Above all, it is his claimed laurels as the hero of 9/11 that bear very close scrutiny. If he stays close to form, he will be storing fissile material in the basement of the White House to power his bunker, and telling the Nuclear Regulatory Authority that their writ does not run there.

Living downtown on the morning of 9/11, I was reporting from my fire escape on the collapse of the towers, the cloud of toxic fallout that blanketed downtown and in the background, I had the radio on when I heard a reporter say that Mayor Giuliani was in mid-town, looking for an emergency headquarters. I shouted: "Hey, I know where the stupid b*******'s emergency headquarters are!"

In the teeth of warnings that building "The Bunker" on the 23rd floor of a complex that had already been a terrorist target in 1993 might not be a good idea, Giuliani had put this controversial $16m-headquarters in the World Trade Centre. Of course it was not totally stupid. The city taxpayers' $1.4m-a-year lease went to a major campaign contributor.

The 6,000-gallon diesel tank that was supposed to keep the lights of his office burning for the weeks of the chaos his paranoia had generally anticipated instead kept the building burning for several days. Rudy put it there in defiance of New York City fire regulations insisting that the complex came under the authority of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and so his own city's rules did not apply.

Falling debris from the North Tower set fire to number seven, which even the opinionated mayor had not tried to occupyon the morning. Fuelled by the diesel, the resulting fire blacked out all downtown Manhattan when the building fell on the Con Edison electricity substation in the basement, and resulting floods from fire brigade hoses knocked out downtown's telephones when the water reached the neighboring Verizon telephone exchange.

I confess a personal interest in this. Along with Wall Street, our apartment was without electricity for a week, and telephones for even longer.

Voters should also remember that, unabashed by his own incompetence, Giuliani then floated the idea of canceling the election after 9/11 and reappointing himself as an emergency measure. Even George Bush is unlikely to go that far. I wouldn't bet on Dick Cheney not trying to invent a perpetual presidency but that's different.

So just in case any of you get dewy-eyed about Rudi's alleged softness on gay and abortion issues, remember this guy makes Napoleon look modest. His insouciant inconsistency is unlikely to invoke a veto against any such authoritarian measures if his backers tell him not to. It's all about freedom - to do what he tells you.

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