Nice try. Try again.

Reagan said in his diary that he thought Rudy Giuliani was crazy. Rudy’s people are offering a letter from Reagan to Giuliani as evidence that they were friendly. That would be more convincing if the letter were signed instead of rubber-stamped.
But wait! It gets better. The letter focuses on Giuliani’s role in drug enforcement, which was a complete failure: while he was in charge, prices fell and volumes soared. Heckuva job, Rudy!

Apparently one entry in Ronald Reagan’s diaries says of Rudy Giuliani “I think he’s crazy.” (This was with reference to a scheme to indict Ferdinand Marcos, then still ruling the Philippines.)

Well, the Giuliani people needed to respond somehow. And of course they couldn’t criticize St. Ronald. So they dug up a letter from Reagan to Giuliani and gave it to’s Jonathan Martin, who’s either astonishingly gullible even by journalistic standards or simply in the tank.

The letter was written when Giuliani switched from being Associate Attorney General to U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Naturally, it says nice things. But, as Colombo would say, there’s just one thing: Reagan didn’t even sign the letter. The signature is rubber-stamped (not even robo-penned). The normal personalization of a business letter &#8212 crossing out “Mr. X” in the salutation and substituting the first name &#8212 is omitted. It’s so blatant a form letter that it amounts to an insult. Yes, as Martin says, Giuliani is the only current Republican candidate who had a job in the Reagan Administration. But to say that Giuliani “actually worked for the guy” (meaning Reagan) is a considerable stretch.

Reagan’s letter has one element that Giuliani has to hope the voters don’t pay attention to. Reagan singles out Giuliani’s role in drug policy, and in particular in the South Florida task force, which tried to stem the flow of cocaine into Miami. Even when the letter was written, its assertion that the interdiction effort held out “real hope of success” was dubious, at best. But now we know how the story ended: in tears. The cocaine price collapse that paved the way for the crack trade happened largely on Giuliani’s watch.

I was working on drug policy in the Justice Department during the Giuliani years. No one in his right mind thought that a program focused on catching smugglers ever had any real hope of working from the get-go; by the time Giuliani left, the failure was obvious, with prices in free-fall and volumes soaring. The speculation when Giuliani took what was at best a lateral transfer (Associate AG is the #3 job in the Department) was that he’d figured out that his counter-drug efforts had been a disaster and wanted to be out of the way when the fecal material hit the air-moving equipment.

Heckuva job, Rudy! Giuliani bragging about his effectiveness in drug enforcement is like Hillary Clinton bragging about her effectiveness in reforming health care.

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: