Brooks Kraft for Politico
I personally think he’s suffering from full blown dementia…(ks)
Even in New York, ‘America’s Mayor’ was always a lot more like Trump than people realized. Now we’re seeing it on a national stage.
All summer long, Rudy Giuliani has acted as if he’s in a contest with Donald Trump to prove who the most manic 70-something from the outer boroughs really is. It started at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where Giuliani raved and gesticulated about the podium like an Aztec priest offering up fresh beating hearts to Quetzalcoatl. He blamed President Obama for any and all racial division in the United States—“What happened to one America?!”—and Obama and Hillary Clinton for virtually every attack by Islamic terrorists over the past four years.
“There’s no next election. This is it! There’s no more time left to revive our great country,” he concluded apocalyptically, so overwrought that he seemed about to work himself into a stroke, barely able to get out or articulate words and simply shouting, “Greatness!” near the end of his speech.
On the campaign trail since then, Giuliani has led some of Trump’s most lunatic lines of attack, mocking Clinton for having failed a bar exam 41 years ago (and claiming it was covered up by the press); repeating the Trump camp accusations that the media are ignoring “several signs of illness by her” (“I don’t know if she goes home, goes to sleep. I think she sleeps”); insisting that Trump’s Milwaukee appeal for black people to abandon the Democratic Party was “the best speech that any Republican, at the least, has ever given” and reviving a monthslong feud with Beyoncé (Beyoncé!) by denouncing her for daring to pay tribute to Black Lives Matter at a concert. “I ran the largest and the best police department in the world, the New York City Police Department, and I saved more black lives than any of those people you saw on stage,” Giuliani bragged on Fox & Friends.
Anyone just tuning in must be wondering: What happened to “America’s mayor”? For millions of people outside New York, the lasting image of Giuliani is that of the man we all rooted for as he pushed his way through the streets of Lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, and told us afterward, with almost heartbreaking gentleness, that “the casualties will be more than any of us can bear.” Giuliani that day went on television not only to urge calm, but to remind New Yorkers not to take out their grief on Muslims—“We should act bravely. We should act in a tolerant way”—and just days later held an interfaith prayer service in Yankee Stadium that brought Islamic clerics together with Christians and Jews. This season in political hell, Giuliani has seemed so addled, so much the campaign tool, alternately vicious and clownish in defense of The Donald, that at one point he even stuffed his most famed accomplishment down the memory hole, insisting of the Bush presidency, “Under those eight years, before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States.”
It might seem like this summer has marked a sad break with that old Rudy, or proved him a sellout. But if you’ve followed Giuliani’s career, in fact it’s clear he swallowed the whole Trump persona many years ago—the race-baiting, the law-and-order pose, the incessant lying used to both steal credit and avoid responsibility. What we’re seeing this summer isn’t a crackup: It’s the inevitable, supernova explosion of what long ago became one of the most toxic and overrated political careers in our history. It’s tempting to count the 72-year-old Giuliani one more addition to the Island of Misfit Toys that Trump has gathered around him—another one of the political relics who, seeking to restore relevance, have found themselves denatured by the strange public power of Trump. But a better way to see it might be as a man seizing the star turn he never quite got—grabbing time in slow stretches of the campaign to stand on the national stage and play the role that was supposed to be his, exactly the way he thinks it should be played.