When Rudolph Giuliani awoke on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, his political career was in the toilet. Nearing the end of his second term as mayor of New York City, his approval rating was in the dismal 30th percentile, and he was term-limited from running again. He dropped out of a 2000 Senate race against Hillary Rodham Clinton after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Newsweek referred to pre-9/11 Rudy as "unpopular" and "irrelevant."
What a difference a day can make.
Later that day, the American public was introduced to Giuliani, covered in soot, addressing his city with a strength and poise not lacking the emotional weight of the tragedy. He was on the scene, not holed up in a bunker, and he commanded from the streets, just as at-risk as the people he was charged to serve. That day, even New Yorkers who had long called their mayor a "fascist" and "Adolph Giuliani" loved Rudy.
Today, Giuliani is the front-runner in the GOP's presidential primary. In a recent CNN poll, Arizona Sen. John McCain trailed Giuliani by more than 10 points. Though difficult for New Yorkers to grasp, "America's Mayor" may very well be America's next president.
Before The Broadmoor welcomes Giuliani for a Friday fundraiser, it's a good idea to know the 9/10 Rudy as New Yorkers do. As president, he could do for Colorado, and the rest of the country, what he did for New York City for better or worse.
A mess he helped create
To suggest that Rudy Giuliani in any way caused or knew of the events of 9/11 would be ridiculous. But the fact remains that, as mayor, Giuliani made decisions and ignored issues that tragically complicated the city's ability to respond to the attacks.
Giuliani told Time magazine in its 2001 "Person of the Year" profile that he "assumed from the time I came into office that New York City would be the subject of a terrorist attack," largely because the World Trade Center was attacked in 1993. So in 1996 he established the Office of Emergency Management to coordinate rescue efforts and built a $13 million emergency command center for OEM.
But, stubbornly ignoring overwhelming advice against it, he built the command center on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center, which fell. Just this week, former emergency preparation chief Jerome Hauer ripped him for it in London's Sunday Telegraph.
The iconic image of a heroic Rudy leading from the debris-covered streets is a result of that short-sightedness; there was no command center for him to stand in. Without one, and with shoddy communication equipment, the fire department and police could not adequately coordinate with each other or with other rescue units. Police knew the towers were going to fall as firemen rushed in, resulting in the deaths of 343 firefighters.
9/11 Commission member John F. Lehman called the city's "command and control and communications ... not worthy of the Boy Scouts, let alone this great city." Still, in his book Leadership, Giuliani calls the OEM "one of the most important decisions I made."
In the weeks following 9/11, Giuliani quickly turned coat from mourning to moving on. After an October memorial, he removed 75 percent of the firefighters still searching for human remains at Ground Zero from the site, and installed a "scoop and dump" operation using heavy equipment, removing everything to a Staten Island landfill.
Firefighters rose in anger. Bodies were found in the landfill. In response to the firefighters' protest, Giuliani sent in the cops, who physically fought and arrested firemen. Giuliani then ordered the arrest of two fire union leaders, one of whom called Giuliani a "fascist."
A group of families has taken Giuliani's action to court. Meanwhile, the International Association of Fire Fighters plans to take aim at Giuliani's presidential campaign.
Harold A. Schaitberger, the union's president has said, "Our disdain for him is not about issues or a disputed contract, it is about a visceral, personal affront to the fallen."
While vainly fighting to stay for a third term against the New York constitution Giuliani was organizing Giuliani Partners, a security consulting company. In the spirit of the true cronyism he is known for, Giuliani enlisted his close associates.
One of them was Bernard Kerik. Starting out as a driver for Giuliani before advancing to commissioner of police, Kerik was recommended by Giuliani to serve as head of Homeland Security.
But during the vetting process for that position, Kerik's shady dealings became apparent. Kerik later plead guilty to accepting bribes and loans from developers with mob ties, an interesting associate for Giuliani, a man who built his reputation prosecuting mob leaders.
Along with Kerik, Alan Placa, a former Catholic priest excommunicated from the church for accusations of sexual abuse as well as covering up the abuse of other priests, is a partner at Giuliani Partners. Recently, Giuliani stated that Placa will not be fired as a result of the coverups.
Petty in comparison but still worth noting is Pasquale J. D'Amuro, a former FBI administrator and Giuliani Partners partner who has admitted to stealing artifacts from Ground Zero.
While Giuliani refuses to talk about his clients, the work he does for them, or the cash he's made with Giuliani Partners, a Washington Post expos details how Giuliani has made millions using his connections and 9/11 reputation to attract some shady clientele, such as the makers of OxyContin.
As mayor, Giuliani was a well-off public servant. As globetrotting consultant and 9/11 hero, he's worth tens of millions of dollars.
The iron fist
"Freedom" is so closely connected with 9/11 that the new towers being erected are named after the concept. Here is how America's Mayor views freedom:
"Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. 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."
If Americans west of the Hudson River know anything about Giuliani beyond 9/11 heroism, it's that he "cleaned up New York," which he genuinely did. New York feels, and is, significantly safer since Giuliani's reign.
What New Yorkers know is that cleanup came at a cost: Times Square became Disneyland. Homeless were arrested and children taken from parents. Jaywalkers were strip-searched. The list is long.
Giuliani's approach to crime, which lowered the rate by 60 percent, is known as the "broken window" concept: One broken window in a building leads to more. So, if a neighborhood is willing to tolerate graffiti, jaywalking, beer drinking on stoops, turnstile jumpers, etc., then murder, crack dealing, robbery and other more serious crimes will ensue. But what followed was an extreme zero-tolerance policy, resulting in almost 70,000 people suing the city for police abuses.
During Giuliani's term, police wore T-shirts with intimidating statements, such as the Hemingway quote, "There is no hunting like the hunting of man."
But most of the crime reduction was achieved during his first term, when the economy was faring well. By the second term, Giuliani's agenda became bizarre, including outlawing ferrets.
"For Rudy, governing New York was conquering New York," Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban planning at New York University, told Newsweek. "He thrived on confrontation."
Giuliani's zero-tolerance "quality-of-life crackdown," which allowed for anyone to be stopped and patted down, even raised the ire of the police.
James Savage, then-president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, told Daily News, "If we don't strike a balance between aggressive enforcement and common sense, it becomes a blueprint for a police state and tyranny."
Tough, or mean?
Rudy Giuliani's temperament is well-known in New York. Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter: "His ridiculously thin skin and mile-wide mean streak were not allegations made by whiners and political opponents. They were traits widely known to his supporters."
Giuliani was on a talk show when a woman called to contest his ban on ferrets. He told the woman, among other things, that her love of ferrets meant there was "something deranged" about her. "The excessive concern you have for ferrets is something you should examine with a therapist." He also told her she has a "sickness" and is "really, really very sad." All because she wanted a ferret.
When protestors took to New York City streets after 23-year-old West African immigrant Amadou Diallo was shot by police 40 times while, unarmed, he reached for his wallet, Giuliani claimed the protestors were upset because of "their own personal inadequacies."
Careful he could win
Capitalizing on his 9/11 fame, referencing it in every speech and at every stop on his campaign, shows Giuliani claiming every cheer for himself. It's more likely that Americans declared Giuliani the "9/11 hero" because President Bush was AWOL and Dick Cheney was hiding in a bunker when the country was looking for a leader. Giuliani filled the void.
"Colorado is a state that can vote either way," he not-so-perceptively told the Denver Post in June. As of April, Coloradans had contributed $102,101 dollars to Rudy's campaign. They gave about $200,000 more to Mitt Romney but less to John McCain. As of March, Giuliani had raised $18 million nationally, $3 million less than Romney, but $4 million more than McCain.
As improbable as it may seem that Republicans would nominate a pro-choice, anti-gun, pro-gay-rights divorcee from the Northeast, they just might. Those hot-button social issues are not as hot with the conservative base in a post-9/11 world; all of the GOP's front-runners including McCain and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney are perceived as moderate on social issues.
If Rudy wins the GOP nomination, as many early polls are predicting, he stands a good chance of winning the presidency. And he's already stated that his plan for Iraq would double the number of that Bush has dedicated to his "surge."
America's Mayor as America's President could be much more dangerous than George W. Bush.
Josh Johnson is associate editor at the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, where a version of this article originally appeared. Find the list of sources for this article at rmchronicle.com.