Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The arrogance of the power hungry

At times, the pomposity of some politicians is absolutely mind-boggling. Take the two front runners in the Republican presidential campaign.

Former Massachussetts governor Mitt Romney, an ardent supporter of the so-called war on terror, explained to town hall meeting audience why none of his adult children were serving in the military.

"One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president."

I know you have to have a pretty big ego to run for president on a major party ticket, but usually the successful politicians are a little less overtly arrogant than Romney.

Not so for Romney's main rival at this point, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. Mormonism aside, Romney is a pretty standard cardboard Republican. Giuliani is a bit different. He's a bit more moderate than most of rivals on many social issues, but he compensates by being significantly more fanatical on questions of militarism. His fanning of the populist flames led a Harper's magazine article to contend somewhat compellingly that a Rudy presidency risks being even worse than Bush's, a fear I've had for some time.

(Note: the Harper's piece is subscribers-only but Alternet talks about it too as does this essay in The Nation.)

Giuliani's national fame came simply by showing up in the aftermath of 9/11. He was our national reassurer-in-chief. This doesn't qualify him to fight terrorism, as a National Public Radio anchor (not a commentator) ridiculously stated, but it was not irrelevant at the time. While not unimportant, a mayor merely showing up and encouraging people in the aftermath of a tragedy hardly qualifies one to be president. Perhaps he benefited by comparison to the conduct of the actual president at the time.

Of course, Rudy's mayorship was quite controversial. He was a polarizing figure for 7 years, 9 1/2 months. But that seems to be lost in the group therapy of the last 10 weeks. He did a good job completing the work started by his Democratic predecessor in cleaning up the city, both physically and in terms of crime. But this also came with the cost of a police force running rampant. NYPD cops pumped 41 bullets into an unarmed African immigrant; I don't like to second guess cops in crime ridden areas and one can debate the actual fact of the shooting but pumping that many bullets into an unarmed person (who, oh by the way, was innocent of any crime) is unconscionable. That came a few years after the infamous Abner Louima torture case when cops used a toilet plunger to sexually brutalize a Haitian man being held in their custody. Incidents like this and others demonstrate a reckless disregard for human life. Given the Bush administration's similar mentality, this is the last thing we need to perpetuate in this country.

Woody Allen famously said that 80 percent of success is just showing up. And since Giuliani's presidential campaign success is due entirely to the fact that he just showed up after 9/11, it's not surprising that the famously ill-tempered politician overplayed his hand.

At a campaign stop in Ohio, he bragged, "I was at ground zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers. ... I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I’m one of them.”

His comments were denounced by both New York's Bravest and New York's Finest.

The head of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association in New York, said: “I have a real problem with that statement. I think he’s really grasping and trying to justify his previous attempts to portray himself as the hero of 9/11.”

Michael Palladino, head of the Detectives Endowment Association, the union of NYPD detectives, said the mayor’s record can’t compare to those who spent 12 months sifting through toxic debris for evidence and human remains.

“As a result of their hard work, many are sick and injured. The mayor, although he did a fine job with 9/11, I don’t think he rises to the level of being an equal with those men and women who were involved in the rescue, recovery and cleanup,” Palladino said.

Only in the Rudy's little mind/gigantic head does preening for the cameras from time to time equate to those who sifted through toxic debris or those who saved people from the stricken towers before they collapsed.

A colleague of Rudy's endorsed successor pointed out that '9/11 is not a wholly owned subsidiary of Rudy Giuliani.'

I'll have a criticism of Barak Obama in the next few days.


Renegade Eye said...

I think the Dems are holding their fire against Giuliani waiting for the end of primaries. I believe he is as high as he is in the polls, is the Dems didn't link him to Bush. I think they're waiting.

Mark said...

Rudy's campaign bus is a firetruck, right?

Mark said...

Mogadishu may be getting its very own Green Zone!