As New York mayor Rudy Giuliani’s second term winds down, his sordid personal life is eclipsing his rock-solid leadership. That’s a shame, since so many Republican officials lack Giuliani’s on-the-job principle and courage.
After-hours, though, Giuliani’s private travails far exceed the mere public airing of dirty laundry. His marriage woes might as well spin within a giant, glass, washing machine in Times Square.
“The Mayor, The Wife, The Mistress,” screams the cover of this week’s People. “New York’s Nastiest Split,” as the magazine calls this melodrama, stars Giuliani, his estranged wife, Donna Hanover, and the mayor’s “good friend,” Judith Nathan. In last Monday’s episode, a Manhattan judge granted Hanover’s request to bar Nathan from Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence. Hanover reportedly is shopping for her own apartment.
Meanwhile, Raoul Felder — Giuliani’s divorce lawyer — recently revealed that the mayor’s prostate-cancer treatments have lowered his testosterone level such that not even Viagra can stimulate him. Giuliani has a reversible case of “chemical castration.”
But even with his testosterone count down around his ankles, Giuliani remains more of a man than the average Republican politician ever will be. Too many GOP officials push their ideas bashfully while leaping in terror from their own shadows. Just watch congressional Republicans “limit government” by outspending Democrats. GOP governors likewise spew public cash and sign hate-crimes legislation to show they care.
Despite his tawdry private life, Giuliani’s public performance deserves imitation by Republicans from Malibu to the Mall. On taxes, spending, education, energy, and race, Giuliani does the right thing on demand and without apology. Some examples:
A $494 million tax cut in 2002 (and $3 billion in further reductions through 2005) will enhance Giuliani’s 17 percent decrease in New York’s tax burden.
Giuliani’s $39.5-billion budget cuts expenditures $951 million, or 2.35 percent below last year’s plan. Twice now in Giuliani’s tenure, year-to-year outlays actually have dropped. Not even Ronald Reagan accomplished that.
Giuliani promotes school choice despite withering teachers’ union opposition. On May 18, he led an official delegation to study Milwaukee’s school voucher program. As Giuliani said, “the reason why we are here today is to learn about school choice — from parents, teachers, and children — and apply what we learn to our own City.”
Giuliani avoids weasel words like “opportunity scholarships.” He proudly embraces “vouchers.” The as-yet-Republican Congress, meanwhile, has deleted school-choice language from President Bush’s education plan. And Bush let them.
To avoid California-style blackouts this summer, Giuliani championed the construction of 10 new natural gas-burning electrical generators along the East River. He basically told whining environmentalists to shut up. “There’s going to be opposition to any power plant,” he said May 2, “but then people are going to wonder why the lights don’t go on.”
While Attorney General John Ashcroft practically shakes when discussing racial profiling, Giuliani confidently unveiled new data on May 18 that show that the NYPD arrests blacks and Hispanics in proportion to the complaints of crime victims. Last year, victims identified blacks as 61 percent of violent suspects. Fifty-six percent of those arrested were black. Twenty-nine percent of suspects were Hispanic, as were 31 percent of those arrested. For whites, the respective numbers were 8 percent and 9 percent. What racial profiling?
Giuliani has achieved plenty (e.g. homicide is down 65.4 percent since 1993) despite Democratic control of 45 of the City Council’s 51 seats. A new, bipartisan tone? Fuggeddaboudit. Giuliani thrives in public affairs because he remembers Mick Jagger’s observation about Gotham City: “To live in this town, you must be tough, tough, tough, tough, tough.”
To his credit, President Bush has been tough enough to push his tax cut and missile-defense proposals while ditching the phony Kyoto global warming treaty and booting the liberal American Bar Association from semi-officially vetting judicial appointees. Still, Bush likely would be further along if people considered him, deep down, more Rottweiler than Retriever.
What can other, more easily frightened Republicans learn from Rudy Giuliani?
Be bold. No guts, no glory.
Tighten the public purse strings. The left always calls Republicans stingy. So, then, why not spend fewer tax dollars?
Engage the press. Unlike New York governor George Pataki — who is both as visible and influential as nitrogen — Giuliani holds frequent press conferences, hosts a weekly radio call-in show and is unafraid of reporters. Republicans must overcome their mediaphobia. Sorry. Journalists will not go away.
And finally: Unless you would replace the Stars and Stripes on a flagpole with your satin sheets, don’t even think about soiling them.