Saturday, March 3, 2007

Giuliani Profile in Newsweek

The latest missive from Newsweek published today, entitled "The Real Rudy Giuliani". It's a profile piece, a long read, but definitely a good one.

March 12, 2007 issue - Rudy Giuliani had been speaking for six minutes before anyone in the audience thought to clap, which was exactly the way he wanted it. Talking to a political crowd in North Spartanburg, S.C., last month, the former New York City mayor and 2008 presidential candidate was not there to excite but to warn; he was less interested in making political promises than he was in sketching out the perils we face. He spoke in the hushed tones of the day that marked him for history, September 11, 2001, his voice barely filling the somber setting—not a hotel ballroom or a church basement, but a firehouse, festooned with American flags.

America's struggle was far from over, Giuliani warned the crowd. The terrorists who tested the nation that morning were still plotting to destroy its spirit. He wouldn't even use the word "if" to talk about future attacks: "I think probably the way I have to say it is, when we're attacked. That's the only way we're going to be safe." The crowd remained silent. "We're going to be in this war for quite some time," Giuliani concluded. "Not by our choosing, but by theirs."

His remarks were dramatic, which was fitting, since Giuliani has always been a man of drama, always thriving at moments of crisis. Growing up in the Long Island suburbs of New York in the placid 1950s, he would close the door to his bedroom and listen to Italian operas, in which each song contained a challenge, a confession or a choice. As a college student he read the words of Winston Churchill, perhaps dreaming that he, too, might one day feel as though he were "walking with Destiny." For a pudgy, Brooklyn-born undergraduate at Manhattan College, his aspirations seemed somewhat outlandish. Sometimes they still do. In his daily interactions, Giuliani can be arrogant, abrasive and imperious, an average-size man trying too hard to prove himself a giant.

But when the crises come, Giuliani has proved to be big enough. New York City was crime-ridden with a dwindling middle class when he became mayor in 1994. By the millennium, the city was safe, swaggering—and the envy of much of the nation. On 9/11, with the president hidden from view, "America's Mayor" steeled the country by speaking the terrible truth: "The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear." Now, with the war in Iraq in chaos and Al Qaeda still unvanquished, he is pitching himself to Republican primary voters as the man destined to steady the party and the nation in a time of trial.