By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders
On September 10, 2001 Rudy Giuliani was approaching the end of his eight year tenure as Mayor of the City of New York. As he entered his final four months his popularity and approval ratings had ebbed to its low point.
In spite of his successes in starting to reverse the high crime rates in the city, the electorate had clearly had enough. Tired of his sullenness, tired of his tirades, divisiveness and his “my way or the highway” approach to governing, the polls indicated that had he been able to seek a third term as chief executive of the city, he would be rejected by the voters.
And then the world as we knew it came to an end on September 11. Two hijacked planes slammed into the Twin Towers causing them to crumble and crushing 2,800 innocent men and women. The war with terrorism had begun and New York City was ground zero.
During the aftermath Mayor Giuliani showed extraordinary leadership and an uncommon calm in the midst of that catastrophe. He earned the respect and praise of Republicans and Democrats alike. 9-11 changed the way people perceived the man.
But ultimately it was just a facade as the real Giuliani surfaced again last week.
Back on the political stage after his abortive and disastrous attempt at the Presidency in 2008, Giuliani sneered that the President does not love American citizens and the President does not love America. He went on to say that the President was not raised like ordinary patriotic Americans and even accused him of being a communist sympathizer. What?!
Without any facts but only armed with his personal animus towards President Obama, the former Mayor of New York essentially declared the President of the United States unfit for the office!
This rhetoric seems to play well with the extreme right wing fringe who from day one questioned Obama’s citizenship and loyalty to this country with a kind of vitriolic hysteria that is more commonly displayed by persons who have become unhinged.
Disagreeing with the President’s policies is fair game. But the kind of road rage fury unleashed at the President of the United States originates in troubled minds.
This is the fray that Giuliani has joined.
Those of us who knew him in government should not be surprised. This is the same man who talked of patriotism but refused to enter the military draft in the 1960s. This is the same man who announced his separation from his wife, Donna Hanover, in a City Hall press release before having the courtesy of informing her of his intentions. This is the same man who would personally belittle those who disagreed with his policies. This is the same man who appointed and promoted the career of Bernie Kerik as Police Commissioner and later endorsed his nomination to be U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security in spite of his very questionable official activities and illegal conduct, which landed him in prison.
We were fortunate to have Rudy Giuliani as mayor during the dark days of the fall of 2001. He was the right person for that moment in time.
But let us not lose sight of who this man really is and his instincts to divide and pontificate. He has reminded us of that all over again. The real Rudy Giuliani.
Steven Sanders served in the State Assembly from 1978-2006. He currently is the executive director of an association of agencies that provide early childhood services to learning challenged or developmentally disabled youngsters.