I almost liked Rudy Gulliani. It was right after the attacks of September 11, when he turned into someone very different from the Mayor that many in New York knew. The Rudy of 9/11 struck all the right notes, calming a shocked city (and by extension, the nation); showing calm and seeming competence if a world gone mad. There he was, attending as many funerals as possible, shedding tears.
But soon the old Rudy began to emerge. His term about to be about, he suggested that New York City “postpone” the November mayoral election, presumably because New York just could not possibly go on without him running things. The people of New York didn’t take kindly to this mad power grab, and voted Mike Bloomberg in. The city survived and recovered.
Gulliani, of course, went on to parlay his status as “the world’s Mayor” into a very lucrative series of business opportunities. among them consulting on “how to keep your city safe.” After all, who knew better?
Well, Bloomberg and NY Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, to name two. While Rudy Gulliani touted his skills as thwarting terrorists, his real experience was in how not to stop a terrorist attack. He was, after all, the man in charge in the years leading up to the attack. He was the guy who put the city’s emergency command center in — where? Oh, yes, #7 World Trade Center. Right smack in the middle of the complex that had already been attacked once by Islamic extremists, who vowed to come back. All sorts of experts advised locating the center in a bunker beneath downtown Brooklyn. #7 was, you will recall, the “small” tower that came down later in the afternoon of September 11. (This is the one that the “loose change” nuts claim was brought down by a planned explosion, rather than having two 110 story buildings fall nearly on top of it).
So where did Bloomberg build the new emergency center? Downtown Brooklyn. In a bunker. You may have seen it during Hurricane Irene. After 9/11, Ray Kelly began to build his own international intelligence organization at a time when NYC was not getting the cooperation from the Feds that they felt they needed. New York is now considered, along with London, in the forefront of protecting cities from attack.
Those who lived under Mayor Gulliani before the attacks remember that he was hardly the most popular of Mayors. He won elections in part by engaging in race-baiting, something that has happily subsided in the years since. He paid more attention to the needs of corporate business interests like Disney (taking over much of Times Square with government help) than the needs of the average New Yorker. He was, in short, a bully of major proportions.
During the last Presidential campaign season, Joe Biden famously summed up Gulliani as “every sentence consists of a noun, a verb and 9/11.” During this Tenth Year Anniversary, he’s been puffing up his importance and belittling the contributions of everyone else. So I’m back to hating Rudy. The old Rudy remains. One of the lessons learned in the last ten years, I suppose.