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The Collective
Monday, October 29, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via yesterday’s WaPo is a column by David Greenberg that continues the theme I noted yesterday afternoon about Rudy Giuliani’s style of governance: Rudy a Lefty? Yeah, Right. The essay’s main thesis is that the usage of “moderate” or even “liberal” to describe Giuliani (as is frequently done in the press vis-a-vis his social stances, anyway) is inaccurate. Primarily he notes that the focus on abortion, guns and gays is too narrow in terms of defining Giuliani and, moreover, even argues that Giuliani’s positions on those issues are not “liberal” as they are made out to be.

I specifically found the following examples, some well publicized, others less so, of Rudy in action as Mayor to be the most interesting and illustrative part of the column. The most famous example would be a controversial art exhibit:

One emblematic act of Giuliani’s mayorship was his 1999 attempt to censor an art exhibit because it featured a painting of the Virgin Mary that used an unusual form of mixed media — clumps of elephant dung, to be precise. (Others were also upset by the cutouts of female genitalia.) Giuliani, a Catholic who attended parochial schools and once aspired to the priesthood, understandably took offense. But he then converted his religious sensibilities into policy, unilaterally withholding a $7 million city subsidy to the Brooklyn Museum of Art. When that failed to get the painting removed, he tried to evict the museum from its century-old home. Ultimately, after losing in court, he was forbidden to retaliate against the museum.

Now, one may find such artistic expressions offensive, which is an understandable position, but it is not within the purview of a city’s mayor to decide to use the power of the government against an institution in this manner. One may wish to debate the entire issue of government subsidized art and the like, but that is not the issue here (nor, really, is the issue about whether the art in question was offensive). Rather, the issue is whether a chief executive ought to assert unilateral power just because he wants to do so.

Another example:

In 1999, for example, he directed (without the City Council’s permission) the police to permanently confiscate the cars of people charged with drunken driving — even if the suspects were later acquitted.

This is a clear example of an executive ignoring both the legislative and judicial areas of government for no other reason than that executive thought it was a good way to achieve policy outcomes. Again, take that kind of attitude and apply it to the War on Terror, especially in terms of domestic counter-terrorism, and we have a recipe for substantial violations of the rights of citizens.

And then there’s this:

cutting a deal with the city as he was leaving office to assign control of his mayoral records to his own private company so that he could decide who could see them.

So, with Giuliani we get a need for secrecy-which is not a healthy thing, especially in the context established above.

Best (or worst) of all:

his flagrantly undemocratic bid to stay in office for an extra three months after Sept. 11, 2001. During earlier crises, even World War II, U.S. elections had always managed to proceed normally. But Giuliani maneuvered for weeks to remain mayor after his term-limited exit date. Only as normalcy returned to New York did his power grab fail.

That is an especially unhealthy view of both power and of oneself.

Certainly his campaign rhetoric to date (as well as the advisers with whom he surrounds himself) would indicate that he plans to use similar tactics in foreign policy.

h/t: Sullivan.

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Filed under: US Politics, 2008 Campaign | |


  1. More reasons to fear a Giuliani administration

    Today we have even more information on Rudy and his authoritarian tendencies from that wild-eyed democracy-loving

    Trackback by Irrational Woman — Monday, October 29, 2007 @ 3:12 pm

  2. […] Cross-posted from PoliBlog (to discuss the piece, please follow the link: […]

    Pingback by Political Mavens » More on Rudy’s Authoritarian Tendencies — Tuesday, October 30, 2007 @ 6:56 am

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