Friday, June 22, 2007

I Was in New York on 9/11

Does that make me qualified to be president? Rudy “Thigh Highs” Giuliani seems to think so. Were you aware that he had a spot on the 10-member Iraq Study Group panel? Did you know that he was kicked off because he skipped all the meetings? Did you know that he skipped the meetings in order to make $1,000,000+ in speaking engagements? Well, it’s true.

As Slate’s Fred Kaplan explains, it’s positively bone-chilling to imagine that a man who would be president would skip out on the one chance to add a foreign policy line-item to his threadbare (as foreign policy goes) resume, in particular, a line-item as prestigious the Iraq Study Group. And to skip it for pure profit should by itself disqualify him from eligibility for office.

…it was widely assumed at the time that Baker-Hamilton would serve as Bush's vehicle for getting out of—or somehow otherwise resolving—Iraq. And Giuliani, like all other mainstream party members, was still very much in Bush's camp. To be a part of this 10-member panel—to claim the prestige of such august company, to play the role of politico-strategic statesman, and to gain instant credibility on a topic to which he'd previously had no exposure—should have been regarded as an enviable opportunity, both on its own terms and as a boost to his political fortune.

But—given a chance to elevate his standing, serve the country, and get educated on the nation's most pressing issue—Rudy went for the money.

On the campaign trail he says that the terrorist threat "is something I understand better than anyone else running for president." As the mayor of New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, he may have lived more intimately with the consequences of terrorism, but this has no bearing on his inexperience or his scant insight in the realm of foreign policy. He is, in fact, that most dangerous would-be world leader: a man who doesn't seem to know how much he doesn't know.

Even in his own realm, Giuliani has displayed uneven judgment. After 9/11, he rallied the city with gallant eloquence and organized the recovery with impressive skill. But before the attack, he installed a high-tech counterterrorism office on the 23rd floor of the World Trade Center's Building No. 7—even though terrorists had tried to blow up the trade center back in 1993. (On 9/11, Building 7 was destroyed by the Twin Towers' rubble.)

Giuliani also failed, ahead of time, to create a liaison between the police and fire departments, or to make their radios interoperable—a failure that may have cost many firefighters their lives. He also urged President Bush to hire his crony Bernard Kerik, first to train the Iraqi security forces, then to run the U.S. Homeland Security Department. Bush went along with the first, to no good effect, and was about to OK the second until the feds unearthed Kerik's massive record of corruption.

Where is the evidence that Giuliani's best behavior as mayor, before or after 9/11, says anything about his qualifications to be president?

His shrugged blow-off of Baker-Hamilton offers a glimpse at the darker side of America's Mayor: that he's in it not for the country, but for himself.
But he protected us from dancing to music! Let’s not forget that…

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