Matt Taibbi must really dislike Rudy Giuliani as he hurls the ultimate insult in calling him worse than Bush in an article in Rolling Stone. I’ve often been critical of Giuliani, but I wouldn’t go that far–although perhaps if I lived in New York my opinion of him would be even lower.
Taibbi summarizes the criticism of Giuliani’s handling of post 9/11. He notes how Giuliani has milked 9/11 as far as he could politically, but George Bush did the same. He also criticizes Giuliani for the money he made on the lecture circuit, but that’s one I could give him a pass on. Besides, George Bush would have done the same if not in office, assuming he could string a coherent paragraph together. Taibbi also notes Giuliani’s attack on Ron Paul for trying to add a bit of reality to the Republican debate:
Rudy’s attack against Ron Paul in the debate was a classic example of that kind of politics, a Rovian masterstroke. The wizened Paul, a grandfather seventeen times over who is running for the Republican nomination at least 100 years too late, was making a simple isolationist argument, suggesting that our lengthy involvement in Middle Eastern affairs — in particular our bombing of Iraq in the 1990s — was part of the terrorists’ rationale in attacking us.
Though a controversial statement for a Republican politician to make, it was hardly refutable from a factual standpoint — after all, Osama bin Laden himself cited America’s treatment of Iraq in his 1996 declaration of war. Giuliani surely knew this, but he jumped all over Paul anyway, demanding that Paul take his comment back. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before,” he hissed, “and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th.” …
The Paul incident went to the very heart of who Giuliani is as a politician. To the extent that conservatism in the Bush years has morphed into a celebration of mindless patriotism and the paranoid witch-hunting of liberals and other dissenters, Rudy seems the most anxious of any Republican candidate to take up that mantle. Like Bush, Rudy has repeatedly shown that he has no problem lumping his enemies in with “the terrorists” if that’s what it takes to get over. When the 9/11 Commission raised criticisms of his fire department, for instance, Giuliani put the bipartisan panel in its place for daring to question his leadership. “Our anger,” he declared, “should clearly be directed at one source and one source alone — the terrorists who killed our loved ones.”
While it is scary that someone with as simplistic a world view as Giuliani, this is hardly different from what we’ve experienced under Bush. Taibbi next criticizes Giuliani for “Swift-Boating politics” and raising money under the Bush model, but again this is more of the same. This also could be said about multiple other criticisms of Giuliani. They may all be bad, but I’m not sure they are any worse than what George Bush would do.
Rudy Giuliani is even better than Bush on a couple of issues, even if they are giving him trouble among the extremists in the Republican Party. The real lesson of this article is not that Giuliani is worse than Bush, as this is never proven. Taibbi shows that the two are very similar, and those who see Giuliani as some sort of quasi-libertarian who will bring the GOP back from its move towards authoritarianism are mistaken.