Former New York City mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani stuck his foot in his mouth recently when he suggested that he spent as much, if not more time, than many rescuers at the site of the destroyed World Trade Centers following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Giuliani’s careless comments drew sharp criticism from police officers, firefighters and others who toiled for months at the site of the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil. Even when Giuliani backtracked and attempted to clarify his comments, it failed to quiet the critics. It was another sign that many Americans are growing weary of Giuliani’s repeated efforts to remind the nation that he was the mayor at the time of the attacks.
“I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I’m one of them,” Giuliani said in Cincinnati, according to an Associated Press story.
Giuliani later said he was trying to “empathize” with the rescue workers and show that he “was there with them.” It was too late and police and fire leaders wasted no time in pouncing on their former leader.
“I have a real problem with that statement,” said John McDonnell, a New York City batallion chief and head of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. “I think he’s really grasping and trying to justify his previous attempts to portray himself as the hero of 9/11.”
“He is such a liar, because the only time he was down there was for photo ops with celebrities, with politicians, with diplomats,” Jimmy Riches, a deputy fire chief, told the AP.
Well said. Giuliani somehow parlayed his 9/11 role into a tidal wave of popularity he is still trying to ride today. But most Americans forget – or never knew – about Giuliani pior to that date. To refresh memories, Giuliani had certainly had some successes as the mayor of America’s largest city but at the time of the terrorist attacks, was an embattled politician. He also was involved in a very public affair that saw his mistress actually living in the mayor’s mansion. All of that scandal fell by the wayside as Giuliani became a spokesman not just to the city, but to the country, following the attacks.
Giuliani is a true case of style over substance. He can handle a crowd, comes off as personable and comes across as articulate and intelligent. Add in a super hero’s cape he fancies himself wearing, and Giuliani seems a formidable presidential candidate. But it has been six years since the heinous attacks and Americans are starting to see through Giuliani’s constant references to 9/11 that he really is a one-trick pony. He fails to effectively explain where he stands on key policy issues. In fact, it seems difficult to steer Giuliani into any issue with some 9/11 reference cropping up.
Giuliani reaped millions in personel wealth making speeches in the years since the terrorist attacks. He bills himself as “America’s mayor” and seems almost gleeful as he recounts his tales of 9/11 and its aftermath. We can do better and the American people deserve better.
If New Yorkers are starting to figure it out, the rest of the nation should soon too realize that Giuliani is no hero. We need a president to lead our nation, not a silver-tongued politician with visions of grandeur.