Rudy, You’re Wrong

Oh, Rudy, what’s happened to you, man? The broken window theory
not panning out in Mexico City and other places where 70% of the
population lives in poverty? A little bummed that Pataki has stolen
some of the limelight? Maybe you’re getting senile. Those hand
gestures last night at the Republican National Convention sure
looked geriatric.

Rudy, I loved you, man, especially when New York crime was
completely out of control. You had the cajones to say enough is
enough. You stuck it to the Goodfellas crowd. You stuck it to the
drug dealers. Yeah, you stuck it up poor Abner Louima’s ass, but
that was the price we New Yorkers were willing to pay to get
panhandlers and squeegee people out of our faces, to kick-start
those high rents near Tompkins Square Park, and make the city safe
again for inside traders.

Heck, Rudy, we forgave you for your wacko retrograde opinions on
art — remember the Virgin Mary elephant dung fiasco? — because
you deigned, Rudya, to dress in drag. And we can never thank you
enough for being such a mensch after 9/11. It was your finest
hour.

But, Rudy, man, this unequivocal endorsement of Doofus for a
second term, that’s just pushing the envelope a little too far.
Last night, you set up a false dichotomy, dude. None of us
Kerry-backers think the U.S. should have gone all pussy-foot and
Euro after 9/11. We all wanted to ‘get Medieval’ on Al Qaeda’s ass
just like you and your Republican roughnecks. We wanted to apply
some serious offense. And not a West Coast offense either. A
serious smash-mouth, run-it-up-the-gut offense, like we used to run
in Nebraska before the Huskers got all pussy-foot and
pass-hungry.

Our beef with Doofus has to do with this Iraq thing. Rudy, it
was a lie. It was a goddamned lie. It was trumped up by your hero
Dick Cheney, and sold as an integral piece of our war on terror
when it was a completely different matter that had nothing to do
with Al Qaeda, and, in fact, has tragically distracted us from the
war on terror. Even Doofus now makes the separation. That’s why
Rove had McCain make the case for Iraq, and you make the case on
terror. THEY AREN’T RELATED, G! They are two separate animals, and
you know it.

So, Rudy, I hate to say this — we puritanical Gemini Catholics
share a lot in common — but, dude, your power-drunk rant last
night was totally whack. You let me down. And you let a lot of
folks who backed you over the years down. I know where your head is
at: You’re thinking that James Q. Wilson’s broken window theory
works just as well as on the international stage as it does on
urban streets. But, Rudy, it doesn’t quite work that way. When we
bust turnstile-jumpers or minor crack dealers in New York City, no
one dies, except for the occasional Amadou Diallo. But when we try
to lower the threshold of terror tolerance on the world stage by
busting up every thug leader who might have some remotely
tangential connection to Al Qaeda or Hamas, thousands of innocent
people die. Our sweeping preemptive attacks aren’t seen as making
the world a safer place. Instead, they make us seem like
irrational, out-of-control monsters. Like oil-hungry thieves. Like
stooges of Ariel Sharon.

I know you don’t care what people think of you. And I admire
that to an extent. It works when running a madhouse like New York
City. But it absolutely does not work in international affairs,
where perception becomes reality overnight, and where the weapons
of retribution are not Saturday Night Specials, but generations of
suicide bombers. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his essay ‘Self
Reliance,’ ‘a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little
minds.’ Right now, sir, at this precarious moment in world affairs,
we don’t need little minds.

Rudy, you’ve always struck me as a phoenix-like character. As
you were putting white-collar criminals behind bars as a federal
prosecutor, you were losing a Mayoral election to David Dinkins. As
you were winning kudos for transforming New York City into one of
the safest cities in the world, you got into an ugly pissing match
with your police chief, William Bratton, over who should get the
credit. Just when you were ready to go out and capture a U.S.
Senate seat, you were beset by prostate cancer and a messy public
divorce. And now that you’ve been almost canonized for your courage
and compassion surrounding 9/11, you, the Mayor that championed
urban civility like none other, deliver a churlish, childish and
strikingly un-civil speech to the RNC that brings up echoes of your
party’s 1992 convention, when the GOP showed its unmistakably cruel
face to the world.

Rudy, moderates like me held out hope that leaders like you
wouldn’t buy into the Republican politics of destruction. We
thought you were a different breed. But I guess, in the spirit of
Colin Powell’s cowardly command performance at the UN shortly
before the preordained invasion of Iraq, the Republican brass told
you to put up or shut up. You felt compelled to show the GOP frat
boys that you could deliver some serious hazing. And that you did,
Rudy. That you did.

But in so doing, you not only diminished your own halo, but made
crystal clear that the Republican Party has no clue how to win the
peace, no clue how to genuinely win the war on terror, and no clue
how to address the causes of terror, including a sane energy policy
that weens us off Middle East oil and our corrupt entanglements
with our Saudi suppliers. Your speech showed the world that you and
your party are good at only two things: bombs and bombast.

Well, Rudy, you Republicans have had your turn, and you’ve once
again blown it. Now it’s time, once again, for the Democrats to
clean up your mean-spirited mess.

James M. Crotty is the cofounder ofMonk: The Mobile Magazine,
and author of
How to Talk American
(Houghton Mifflin). He can be reached
at Jim@Monk.com

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