You can never be too rich or too thin-skinned.
First there was the “hit” piece in the Sunday New York Times in which America’s Mayor came across as something a little less . . . savory:
Some still speak bitterly about a contract that left firefighters without a raise for two years. Some also say Mr. Giuliani has exaggerated the role he played after the terrorist attacks, casting himself as a hero for political gain. The harshest sentiments stem from Mr. Giuliani’s decision nearly two months after 9/11 to reduce the number of firefighters who were allowed to search for colleagues in the rubble — a move that he partially reversed but that still infuriates many firefighters.
As his candidacy proceeds, Mr. Giuliani’s work on and after Sept. 11, his greatest strength in the eyes of many voters, will be scrutinized. The firefighters’ interviews indicate that in New York, at least, a critical evaluation has begun.
“I think they assume that we all love him,” said Robert Keys, 48, a battalion chief and 25-year department veteran, referring to people outside New York. “He wound up with this ‘America’s Mayor’ image. Those of us who had to deal with him before and after 9/11 don’t share that same sentiment.”
Like so many of his Republican compatriots, America’s Flipflopinator cynically believes that the events of 9/11 rendered the general population incapable of distinguishing fact from fiction, and he has been more than willing to exploit that perception for his personal gain. Yes, while 26% of the country, according to the latest Newsweek poll, still thinks George Bush is doing a heckuva job, the other 74% is starting to get more than a little annoyed. Now is not really the time to be hitching your wagon to the GWOT star, but we all know that Rudy is merely an empty husk without that special “TERRRRR!” cachet.
Okay, so let’s assume that Rudy’s campaign can adjust to roving gangs of angry firemen, but can it withstand the report that emerged a scant two days later, in which it became a bit clearer to those still unfamiliar with Mr. Giuliani that he’s a greedy bastard in a Superman suit?
WASHINGTON — Rudolph Giuliani’s membership on an elite Iraq study panel came to an abrupt end last spring after he failed to show up for a single official meeting of the group, causing the panel’s top Republican to give him a stark choice: either attend the meetings or quit, several sources said.
Giuliani left the Iraq Study Group last May after just two months, walking away from a chance to make up for his lack of foreign policy credentials on the top issue in the 2008 race, the Iraq war.
He cited “previous time commitments” in a letter explaining his decision to quit, and a look at his schedule suggests why — the sessions at times conflicted with Giuliani’s lucrative speaking tour that garnered him $11.4 million in 14 months.
Giuliani failed to show up for a pair of two-day sessions that occurred during his tenure, the sources said — and both times, they conflicted with paid public appearances shown on his recent financial disclosure. Giuliani quit the group during his busiest stretch in 2006, when he gave 20 speeches in a single month that brought in $1.7 million.
On one day the panel gathered in Washington — May 18, 2006 — Giuliani delivered a $100,000 speech on leadership at an Atlanta business awards breakfast. Later that day, he attended a $100-a-ticket Atlanta political fundraiser for conservative ally Ralph Reed, whom Giuliani hoped would provide a major boost to his presidential campaign.
The month before, Giuliani skipped the session to give the April 12 keynote speech at an economic conference in South Korea for $200,000, his financial disclosure shows.
Relying on Ralph Reed. Now THAT’S a good call. And it gets better. Rudy Giuliani blew off the Iraq Study Group, blew off the chance to get some foreign policy experience under his belt in order to grab a quick $200K playing Stuart Smalley to the conservative Christian set. According to Think Progress, two of the speeches were part of seminars called “Get Motivated”:
A daylong program infused with Christianity, patriotism and pumping music suitable for aerobics. Many among the roster of speakers urged the audience of about 25,000 to find their inner power — and to sign up for more seminars and books.
The spectacularly lame excuse Giuliani provided for his dismissal from the ISG panel was that he didn’t want to be involved in a nonpartisan effort while he was running for President. Steve Benen and Greg Sargent do a bang-up job of addressing the inherent bogusitude of this statement, but an even more basic question needs to be asked here: why would someone running for President NOT want to prove he/she is willing to promote a nonpartisan effort? Especially if that somebody needs to bolster his nonexistent international street cred? What’s more, wouldn’t a candidate want to emphasize his or her “I can work with both sides of the aisle” capabilities? Or is this just more Rudy’s “my way or the highway” rhetoric that makes Chris Matthews giddy as a little girl?
There isn’t enough scorn in the universe to heap on Giuliani for this utter lapse in judgment. As if he wasn’t contemplating a run for the Presidency even as the Towers were collapsing around him? The Baker-Hamilton Commission was a prime opportunity to burnish his credibility, but he chose to line his pockets instead. What a fabulous signal to send to the voting public, Mr. Giuliani. “I’m only into terrorism for the big bucks.”
As Steve Benen suggests, this gaffe alone should bring Rudy down, but he’s certainly getting a lot of unsolicited assistance from his staff. On Wednesday, the South Carolina state chairman for the Giuliani campaign was arrested . . . on charges of cocaine distribution. From CNN:
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (AP) — South Carolina Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, a former real estate developer who became a rising political star after his election last year, was indicted Tuesday on federal cocaine charges.
Ravenel is also the state chairman for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign.
Ravenel has stepped down from his volunteer responsibilities with the campaign, according to a statement released by Mark Campbell, Giuliani’s political director.
Campbell said the campaign has no information about the accusations pending against Ravenel.
And on the same day, former Iowa Representative Jim Nussle, Giuliani’s Iowa campaign overlord, decided that serving in the universally despised Bush administration is more alluring than helping Giuliani get elected. He willingly jumped off Giuliani’s ship to accept the nomination for White House Budget Director. So Giuliani loses two state campaign managers in one afternoon. Not everybody can say they’ve accomplished such a feat.
The final straw for Rudy this week (or was it?) was Bloomberg‘s desertion from the Republican Party, a move that infuriated long-time Giuliani fanboy Guy Molinari.
“It does smack of being ungrateful to a man who played a key role in his campaign,” said Staten Island GOP power Guy Molinari, Giuliani’s New York co-chairman, of Bloomberg’s move. “Was it just a matter of convenience? Maybe. Without Giuliani’s endorsement, Mike would not have been elected.”
And in fact, Giuliani’s own comments yesterday suggested more political acquaintanceship than warm camaraderie. He recalled that the reason he backed Bloomberg in 2001 was because he was best suited to preserve Giuliani’s legacy.
“My reasons were to preserve the things that I thought were so important about the turnaround of New York City,” Giuliani said.
But Bloomberg, in fact, reversed several of Giuliani’s major initiatives, including plans to privatize the city’s airports and finance a new Yankee Stadium. Also, Bloomberg recently made a not-so-veiled accusation that Giuliani stuck him with a budget deficit after leaving office.
Poor Rudy. Some day he’ll learn that the Earth revolves around the Sun, not him. And that when you spin a web of lies, you’re going to get caught up in it, one way or another. Maybe next week will be better, Rudy. Maybe.
UPDATE: Via The Kenosha Kid, Giuliani has real family values – he’s got a suspected pedophile priest on staff as a consultant at Giuliani Partners.