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A jet passenger remembers seeing Rudolph W. Giuliani on a Dallas-to-New York flight. Heading home after a March 2005 speech, Giuliani perused a volume of Elizabethan literature.
Miles above Pennsylvania, a door-seal suddenly cracked. As the cabin depressurized, the pilot nose-dived from 38,000 feet to a safer 9,000. Oxygen masks swung above the heads of horrified travelers.
What did Giuliani do? As another, visibly rattled traveler recalled: “He put his mask over his face, picked the book back up, and kept reading Shakespeare.”
Such steadfastness may explain Giuliani’s enduring appeal, even as the GOP primary field has tightened. For Giuliani, this is nothing new.
As a U.S. attorney in the 1980s, Giuliani jailed 18 organized-crime members, including top Sicilian Mafiosi, in an international heroin ring operating through New York pizza parlors. Giuliani imprisoned eight chiefs of the Bonanno, Colombo, Genovese, and Lucchese syndicates — all members of “The Commission,” dubbed “The Senate, House, and Supreme Court of the American Mob.” Giuliani also drove the Mafia from the Teamsters union and launched democratic elections of its leadership. Giuliani did this and more, even as wise guys plotted to kill him.
As mayor, he fought organized and disorganized criminals, slicing overall lawlessness 56 percent and murders 67 percent.
Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., cited, while U.N. ambassador, his 1997 discussions with Giuliani about settling foreign diplomats’ unpaid parking tickets.
“Over the years, I’ve negotiated with the toughest characters abroad — Saddam Hussein in Iraq, North Korea, Cuba on political prisoners,” Richardson said. “The toughest guy I’ve ever had to negotiate with is Rudy Giuliani.”
Giuliani displayed tough love when he said, “Millions of people from all over the world have come to New York City. They didn’t come here to be taken care of and to be dependent on city government. They came here for the freedom to take care of themselves.”
Compare Giuliani’s convictions to Washington’s “come-and-get-it” ethos. Seven years of “compassionate conservatism” have produced a $797 billion Medicare drug entitlement, 2002’s $73.5 billion farm bill (with a new, $286 billion agriculture boondoggle slithering through Congress), and some $29 billion in pork-barrel projects in 2006, all signed enthusiastically by a GOP president who shows his compassion with your money.
Meanwhile, Giuliani maintained spending 1 percent below inflation and reduced welfare rolls 58 percent, moving 643,000 people from public assistance to self-reliance. America needs such a grown-up leader to stop raiding the Treasury to bail out everyone who screams loudly enough.
Giuliani’s titanium spine would replace the gelatinous vertebrae of too many Washington Republicans who buckle to greedy lobbyists and mischievous bureaucrats who demand costly favors, leak classified data, and contravene a reputedly conservative White House. (E.g. the Justice Department sues cities for having “too few” bilingual precinct workers, although naturalized voters must know English to become citizens.)
A Washington veteran like John McCain seems unlikely to tame the bureaucracy. At 71, how long would he have the stamina to do so? Fred Thompson’s campaign-trail lethargy hardly foreshadows Oval Office dynamism. Given his 47 percent increase in Arkansas’ tax burden and 65 percent spending expansion, Mike Huckabee cannot “just say no” to big government. Meanwhile, his foreign policy seems a homily of global forgiveness — something suited to a theoretical planet populated by magnanimous adversaries. And Mitt Romney’s maze of policy contradictions and mounting untruths suggests the absence of a philosophical core — the main ingredient of the true grit America needs.
Some conservatives remain unimpressed that Giuliani used Reaganesque ideas to rescue America’s largest and arguably Leftest (meaning “most Leftist”) city from decades of socialist mismanagement. He cut Gotham’s tax burden 17 percent, transformed Times Square from Porn Central Station into a hotbed of Disney musicals, and created a culture that helped curb Medicaid abortions 23 percent and boost adoptions 133 percent. Mysteriously, some call this “social liberalism.”
With polls opening soon, Republicans should ask: Who is tough enough to stomp Islamofascists abroad and stop gravy-hungry lobbyists, bureaucrats, and congressmen at home? As columnist George Will observed, Giuliani “grew up in Brooklyn when the Dodgers were still there and nevertheless rooted for the Yankees.” He is “someone who is spoiling for a fight.”
Not soon enough, a Giuliani presidency would mean less Jell-O and more titanium in Washington.
(New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a columnist and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.murdock(at)gmail.com. )