Friday, February 16, 2007
I recall going over to Gracie Mansion in this period to interview the mayor. I asked him why he had not even spoken to C. Virginia Fields, the Manhattan borough president, for more than two years. (Fields’s experience was hardly unique among elected officials in New York.) “What’s there to talk about?” Giuliani said petulantly.
This is not a minor thing. It’s not like stiffing Sharpton. It’s like the president of the United States saying, “What’s there to talk about?” with the minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Any good politician knows how to reach out. Giuliani was acting like a prosecutor, which is no big surprise. The question is whether a prosecutorial and authoritarian approach is right for the highest office.
It’s a good bet that Giuliani would be a strong commander in chief. If terrorists attacked again, he would know what to do. But how about the next month? And the month after that? The president is more than a crisis manager. He’s also the defender of the Constitution and the leader of his party. He holds a moral and intensely political position that calls for great skills of conciliation. If FDR had a famously “first-class temperament,” how should we describe Rudy’s? Third-class?
most politicans are insecure, territorial, ambitious, dictatorial, argumentative, petulant and vindictive children on the inside -- it unfortunately happens that these traits are well suited to driving a career in demotic politics.
however, the inability to keep those traits on the inside is a major character flaw that makes giuliani unfit for high office. prosecutors are as a rule by temperament terrible politicians for an ostensibly free society precisely because of their outsized need for total control, regardless of the side of the aisle -- elliot spitzer is no better in any of these senses, for example. and of course the ethical history of any ambitious prosecutor is compromised by the wielding of their power to bring politically useful cases to raise their profile of selected issues. in combination with an immoderate temper, i don't see how americans could conscientiously take the chance of electing a man so disposed.