Giuliani interview underscores one positive development in American politics

“At one point in our conversation, he wondered aloud if Obama would play the race card….”

…that Rudy Giuliani has pretty much departed from it. Here he is in Newsweek:

Giuliani is mindful of the persistent potency of racial issues in American politics. At one point in our conversation, he wondered aloud if Obama would play the race card in the 2012 election. Giuliani has a low opinion of the president’s abilities….

“He grew up and lived in a make-believe world, and he came to office without a clue. I don’t sense that he has any practical intelligence.”

Giuliani’s political musings aren’t especially nice. They aren’t especially coherent, either, given one or two demographic realities in the American electorate. A suspicious person might even surmise that the Mayor was dealing his own race card here.

Give Mayor Giuliani his due. He behaved admirably, even heroically, on September 11, 2001. On most other days, he was not particularly admirable. His blustering authoritarian leadership style proved toxic within 21st-century New York.

I hope he’ll be more polite in the next interview. Failing that, I hope I won’t have to hear from him until 9/11/2021.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect,, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

16 thoughts on “Giuliani interview underscores one positive development in American politics”

  1. Harold Pollack was kind to Mayor Giuliani. His mayoralty was worse than “blustering authoritarian”. After a year or two of reasonable competence–albeit of the blustering authoritarian variety–he lost interest in the job. He spent the next six years playing with his tin soldier police force, intimidating random people to no good end, and contemplating the wonders of his phallus. Plus (since I cannot resist being kind) loving opera throughout.

    And I don’t even have a problem with authoritarian mayors in NYC. Bloomberg has been a tolerably authoritarian mayor, albeit not of the blustering variety. I think he has had a pretty good run, although I don’t think he’s finishing all that well.

  2. I won’t be so kind. Does Giuliani really love the art form known as “opera” or is he merely a lover of late 19th century Italian opera? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that)

  3. “He behaved admirably, even heroically, on September 11, 2001.”

    The word you’re searching for is “bombastically.” What did he actually do that, say, Bloomberg wouldn’t have, except screw up the pre-disaster planning and pose heroically for the cameras?

  4. Karl,
    How could you possibly believe that I, Ebenezer Scrooge, have even a single kindly corpuscle in my body?

    Harold is not looking for the word “bombastically.” It’s worse. The word is “operatically”. If properly re-drafted, Harold’s: “Give Mayor Giuliani his due. He behaved admirably, even heroically, on September 11, 2001” should be reworded to: “Give Mayor Giuliani his due. He behaved operatically on September 11, 2001.”

  5. Ebenezer,

    Don’t make me go all Al D’Amato on you and accuse you of stereotyping Italians!

  6. Yes, obviously this is a worry… Obama has never played the race card, and since he has made it clear that he is not the kind of person who would ever do so (where “playing the race card” means: making unsubstantiated claims about race and/or racial prejudice for political gain)…there are obvious ground for worrying about it. After all, he is (half) black. And, of course, all bad things are true about him.

  7. Give me a break! Heroically? He put his disaster center, against all kinds of advice, at the disaster because it made a better Love Shack. When he couldn’t go to his Shack during the disaster, he had nothing to do but walk around and pose.
    Noun, verb, 9/11!

  8. Good call, Katja! One of the last decade’s more gratifying political evolutions was Giuliani’s slide from verismo to buffo. And thanks for the great link.

  9. Rudy “doesn’t sense that he has any practical intelligence.”. And what is the origin and basis of this sense? Has Rudy more access to Obama than any of us, or any other American? No, I would think he probably has less, and with a demanding schedule of lecture tours I certainly think we can safely say he has less, further less opportunity to read current thinking on any of the pertinent subjects. This comment of Rudy is parroted almost on schedule by the inhabitants of the Tea Baggers with time to putz on a daily basis. Similarly when this, or any other of their position statements are put to the slightest test as to their intellectual honesty they promptly evaporate too.

    How can we have serious dialogue about the serious problems facing the country when one side speaks Bumper Stickerese and the other has a leadership crisis?

  10. Not to change the topic, but I’m delighted that Buce has decided to grace this humble site. His blog has the highest ratio of A-list links to comments of any blog in the entire Intertubes. Go over to his blog, see why he gets the links, and marvel that he doesn’t get the comments.

    And Katja, what Karl said.

  11. After I read this, without really thinking, based on just emotion, spontaneous, I grabbed the arm of the guy standing next to me, and I said to him, “Thank God Rudy Giuliani is not our president.”

  12. Rudy is a lot like Richard Nixon. Not just the paranoia and the enormous ego, but the sad fact that the current crop of GOP leaders makes him look almost sane.

  13. “…the highest ratio of A-list links to comments of any blog in the entire Intertubes.” Scrooge, thanks so much for the shoutout but I honestly don’t understand what that phrase means.

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