How to Counter Rudy’s Mystique and Aura

There’s a new video up from Robert Greenwald critiquing Rudy Giuliani’s record leading up to 9/11, particularly on locating the terrorism response center in the world’s most famous target of terrorism, and in the problems with the communications systems of emergency responders. His mistakes in the aftermath get a brief mention as well. The eight-minute long video features powerful interviews with firefighters and families of firefighters who died.

All the mistakes that Rudy made need to be shouted from the rooftops, hopefully after he’s the GOP nominee.

That said, I’m a bit ambivalent about the tone of the website. I’m not sure that Rudy’s place in many people’s minds is going to change.

Andy Ansbro, a NTC firefighter and former police officer interviewed in the film, says, “when you objectively look at the before during and after here’s not much you can find that Rudy did right except for a very good television appearance.”

That is true. But it’s not something to be dismissed lightly. The entire country was shattered, and Rudy was a very reassuring presence on TV. It doesn’t make up for the mistakes that he made that, according to that film, cost lives.
But respect for his TV performances is deeply felt all throughout the country (unlike the usual official narrative of the media).
His record should be questioned, and he should be forced to answer tough questions and account for his apparent lies in his interview with Chris Wallace. But I think that this warranted criticism needs to be tempered by an acknowledgment that people still have raw emotions about 9/11, and consider Rudy to have been very reassuring at that time.

That’s easier for me to say than for many of the people in the video— they lost loved ones on 9/11, and they believe, within reason, that Rudy’s failures of leadership contributed to those deaths.

It will be interesting to see if any of Rudy’s GOP rivals start making this argument against him, and if I’m wrong about people’s receptivity. So far, at least, the ’08 GOP primaries have not been anywhere near as savage as were the ’00 primaries. I can’t see Democrats funding commercials with Mr. Ansbro and the other film interviewees; it hasn’t been their style to attack like that.

UPDATEFrom today’s Post:

former mayor and Republican presidential hopeful Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose planned appearance near Ground Zero on Tuesday to deliver a short reading is being assailed by critics. His decision to speak while running a presidential campaign sparked a scathing New York Times editorial and infuriated a smattering of family members of victims and firefighter groups, particularly those who have long blamed Giuliani for not doing enough to upgrade emergency equipment before the attacks. Those critics, in turn, are being assailed by Giuliani supporters for suggesting that he would use such a reverent moment for a vote-grabbing publicity stunt.

Perish the thought.

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