In his February 6 online column, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz stated that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) was "one of the heroes of 9/11," adding that his "accomplishments are undeniable." In fact, as Media Matters for America has documented (here and here), in the book, Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11 (HarperCollins, August 2006), Village Voice senior editor Wayne Barrett and CBSNews.com senior producer Dan Collins argued that Giuliani was responsible for terrorism-related failures before, during, and after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Also, Kurtz suggested that Giuliani could be "so innately appealing that many voters are willing to put aside the fact that they disagree with him on a number of issues." Kurtz added: "So maybe the CW [conventional wisdom] is wrong and GOP voters would be willing to overlook Giuliani's social-issue sins," presumably referring to Giuliani's positions on abortion, gay rights, and stem cell research, among other issues. In fact, polling indicates that most Republicans do not know his views on abortion and on same-sex civil unions. As Media Matters has noted, a recent USA Today/Gallup poll found that "[b]arely one in five Republicans knew that he supports abortion rights and civil unions for same-sex couples," and that when Republican voters were informed of his positions, 36 percent of respondents indicated they would be either "less likely to support" him or would "rule him out as a candidate" altogether.
- The authors wrote that "Giuliani's preference for the comfort of a huge entourage had disconnected the city's management and its fighting force at a crucial moment" during the emergency response to the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center and pointed to Giuliani's former police commissioner Bernard Kerik as "a prime example of this managerial dysfunction all morning." They reported that in the 102 minutes between the first impact of a plane into the World Trade Center and the collapse of the North Tower, "Kerik became Giuliani's bodyguard, just as he had been in the 1993 mayoral campaign," rather than leading the police's efforts (Page 350).
- Barrett and Collins also wrote that, despite warnings from a previous police commissioner, Howard Safir, and NYPD chief operating officer Lou Anemone, Giuliani selected the 7 World Trade Center building to be the location of his Office of Emergency Management's (OEM) command center, "[r]ejecting an already secure, technologically advanced city facility across the Brooklyn Bridge" because Giuliani "insisted on a command center within walking distance of City Hall" (Page 41). But the OEM's command center, on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center, was destroyed when the building collapsed on 9-11.
From Kurtz's February 6 Washington Post online column:
Okay, Rudy has finally ended the tease.
That means I have to hit the program key on my computer that says, Yes, he's popular, but wait until those Republican primary voters find out he's pro-gay rights, pro-choice on abortion and pro-gun control!
The question is whether 2008 is a very different kind of year, and Giuliani is a very different kind of candidate.
He is, after all, one of the heroes of 9/11. And he did demonstrate that the ungovernable city of New York could in fact be governed. He ticked off a lot of people in the process, and waged a very messy war with his now ex-wife, but his accomplishments are undeniable.
Every once in awhile, a political figure comes along who is so innately appealing that many voters are willing to put aside the fact that they disagree with him on a number of issues. John McCain had some of that in 2000 as plenty of Democrats swooned over him. So maybe the CW is wrong and GOP voters would be willing to overlook Giuliani's social-issue sins.