Rudolph Giuliani is probably the most recognizable name in the history of New York City politics. As a U.S. Attorney he gutted powerful, seemingly-untouchable mafia organizations, and busted corrupt politicians and business elites. As mayor he oversaw a drastic reduction in the City’s crime rate, which corresponded with a nationwide trend (supporters attribute this to his aggressive policing tactics while critics credit coincidental demographic and economic changes). His greatest claim to fame, however, the one that propelled him into the national spotlight, came as he ushered the city through the tumultuous times following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Since then, he’s earned his living peddling the highly profitable commodity of fear. He ran and funded a presidential campaign on it, and made it the bread and butter of Giuliani Partners, a lucrative consulting firm that has both employed and done business with a variety of shady players — all this while Monday morning quarterbacking the current mayoral and presidential administrations’ responses to Islamic terrorist threats.
Now he’s sounding the alarm to warn us of a more domestic and insidious threat to the American way of life: those who in any way criticize police tactics.
Recently he scolded current Mayor De Blasio for not being unquestionably supportive of the NYPD following the decision not to indict officers responsible for Eric Garner’s death. Though De Blasio’s comments were awkward, they rang true to many New Yorkers. This was unacceptable to Rudolph, who demanded with a face as red as the nose of his namesake that the Mayor apologize to the department.
Let’s forget for a moment a few thorny details about the Giuliani machine — like that he did not unconditionally support the department during his tenure as mayor. He had many acrimonious and public disputes with police unions. Let’s ignore the fact that the media seems to propel him back into relevancy every time he says something terrible or stupid. Let’s also disregard that his livelihood depends on the public being scared of their own shadows (and some institutional cronyism). Will he not shut the fuck up for posterity’s sake?
American politics has an informal tradition where former government executives (mayors, governors, and presidents) are supposed to shy away from meddling publicly with the current administration. It’s a custom that is not always adhered to (President Clinton has been somewhat of a looming presence in the current White House), but should be. It allows the new guard not to be overshadowed by the old. It encourages progress and reform while allowing the office to remain fresh. There are no laws explicitly mandating this (aside from term limits) but former officials with respect for the office and its constituency conform voluntarily.
Rudy could have taken a page out of Mayor Bloomberg’s book. Following his term, Bloomberg retreated from the spotlight to support causes of his conscious. Many disagree with Bloomberg’s policies and politics (myself included), but at least he left office with some dignity (though reluctantly). Instead Giuliani has gleefully accepted the role of pundit, whining loudly as to what he would do were he mayor again, and using his government ties to make a few bucks off corruption and fear mongering. I guess it’s silly to expect scruples from a man who tried to use 9/11 as an excuse to circumvent New York law and extend his mayoralty.
My intention here is not to convince you that Giuliani is a despicable and pathetic human being. Though if I have, I’m honored. I simply want to encourage him (and encourage others to encourage him) to go on making his millions in his signature slimy manner, but to do so quietly. He could still preserve his legacy as a crime fighter and post-9/11 leader if only he would close his mouth.
Mr. Giuliani, please, for your own sake and that of the city you claim to love, kindly shut the hell up.