Is Rudy nuts?

There’s reason to think so, says Michael Wolff. If you doubt it, listen to the “ferret” tape.

I have a strong prejudice against using psychiatric categories to discuss public figures. Diagnosis isn’t for amateurs; even professionals shouldn’t try to diagnose people they haven’t interviewed; and (as Krauthammer has demonstrated over and over again) it’s too easy to dismiss people you disagree with as crazy instead of arguing with them.

In Rudy Giuliani’s case, I had a little bit of contact with him when we both worked at DoJ in the early Reagan years. He was obviously a mean little bastard, with a bully’s penchant for hurting people who couldn’t hit back. But I didn’t see anything suggestive of any mental illness, other than the sociopathy which unfortunately isn’t especially uncommon at the top of the political and business worlds.

But Michael Wolff, based on years of Rudy-watching when the man was mayor, presents some reasonably strong evidence that Giuliani is subject to fits that look a lot like clinically manic behavior, and reports that the view of Giuliani as having a screw seriously loose is widespread among New York journalists.

If you doubt what Wolff says, listen to the “ferret” tape. Some poor schmoe called in to the Mayor’s radio show to complain about the city’s ban on keeping ferrets as pets, and Hizzonor just went off on him, first shutting off his mike and then ranting on and on about how the man (who wasn’t shouting or swearing) needed psychiatric help. Can you say “projection”? I thought you could.

If Rudy doesn’t actually meet DSM-4 criteria for whacko, then I was right the first time and he’s just a seriously bad human being. In either case, he’s dangerous. Think about having as President someone who used his powers as mayor to ban bus cards for New York magazine that called it “the only good thing in New York Rudy hasn’t taken credit for.” This is seriously Nixonian behavior.

Note to Fred Siegel: I, too, hope Michael Bloomberg doesn’t run for President. Anyone who appeals to Rupert Murdoch and Al Sharpton doesn’t appeal to me. But “mediocrity” beats mania any day. And if you really think that George Soros &#8212 who did more than any other single human being to prevent Russian nuclear weapons from getting into the wrong hands and to promote a successful transition away from Communism in Eastern Europe &#8212 is crazy, and Giuliani sane, you’ve been listening to too much Bill O’Reilly. You know better.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: