Has Rudy Giuliani always been this horrible?
The “toxic marriage” was with Bristol Myers Squibb sales manager Judith Nathan, whom he met at an Upper East Side cigar lounge in 1999 and who became his third wife. Kirtzman says she was hated by everyone in Giuliani’s circle, seen as “deeply manipulative and obsessed with status and money.” As Giuliani’s former chief of staff, Tony Carbonetti, explained to Kirtzman, “He’s a horrible human being.”
In Kirtzman’s account, Judith was demanding, questioned everyone’s loyalty, and seemed to have had a deadly hold on her man, who was terrified of her displeasure. Giuliani’s children, Caroline and Andrew, stopped talking to him for years. (Andrew later became a golf buddy of Trump, worked in Trump’s White House, and this year ran for the Republican nomination for governor of New York, with his father’s backing. name recognition, he lost by twenty points.) The couple’s 2019 divorce was hotly contested.
And alcohol seems to be part of the story. Giuliani has always been one to eat red meat, Scotch and cigars, but drinking seems to have gotten serious after his presidential run debacle in 2008. This campaign was straight out of the “bombs of the mayor of New York on the stage play ledger”. In November 2006, Giuliani was ranked as the nation’s most popular politician, and he ran in the Republican primaries as the undisputed frontrunner. In July 2007, he was eighteen points ahead in the polls.
Then the curse of New York broke. In November, Giuliani’s pal and business partner, Bernard Kerik, whom he had appointed police commissioner (despite the fact that Kerik had never finished high school), was charged with sixteen counts of corruption. (Kerik later pleaded guilty to some of the charges and served three years in prison. In 2020, he was pardoned by President Trump. In the Trump gift shop, pardons are cheap.)
There was also a brief to-do about the fact that Giuliani Partners had worked for the government of Qatar, a nation that had given refuge to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was named the main architect of the 9/11 attacks. And it turns out that while Giuliani was mayor, he had used the budgets of obscure city agencies like the Office for the Disabled to cover travel expenses, which some people have linked to secret appointments that he had in the Hamptons.
Giuliani’s affair with Judith, while still married to his second wife, Donna Hanover, did not sit well with grassroots social conservatives in the Party. (Giuliani had had his first marriage, to Regina Peruggi, annulled on the grounds that they were first cousins. He did not inform her that he was doing this.) Conservatives were also unhappy with his opinions. relatively liberal, that is to say, New Yorkers. on issues like gun control and abortion. A man who thrived on the franchise, he struggled to turn his positions to the right. In January, he finished sixth in the Iowa caucuses and fourth in the New Hampshire primary. He got 2% of the vote in South Carolina.
Florida, as it had done for John Lindsay, dealt the fatal blow. The campaign had doubled in the state (those New York retirees!), but Giuliani only got fifteen percent of the vote, good for third place. He dropped out of the race, his campaign having burned through sixty million dollars and ended up with four million in debt. He had a delegate. Giuliani’s career in national politics was over before it really began. He and Judith were taken in by an old friend, who let them stay at his estate, Mar-a-Lago. No one else would have them.
In the years that followed, Giuliani drank heavily. “He was always falling into shit somewhere,” Judith Giuliani told Kirtzman. (She denies having said it.) On election day 2020, Giuliani – oddly enough, but he was presumably paid – did a thirty-minute show for RT, a Russian public television channel, where he told his listeners that Hunter Biden served as Joe Biden’s bagman, collecting bribes for him. That evening, Giuliani showed up at the White House.
He was “definitely drunk,” Jason Miller, an adviser to Trump, told the House Jan. 6 committee when he insisted on seeing the president. And that’s apparently when he advised Trump to announce he wasn’t conceding because the election had been stolen – the first step on the road to Jan. 6 and a second impeachment. Kirtzman says we can be grateful for one thing Giuliani did in Trump’s post-election madhouse, which was to oppose the recommendation to call in the military and confiscate voting machines.
It’s natural, when trying to understand a crash-and-burn adventure as spectacular as Giuliani’s, to wonder if he was that great in the first place. How far has he really fallen? Kirtzman, who covered Giuliani’s town hall as a reporter and host of “Inside City Hall,” on the NY1 news channel, and who was with him on 9/11 – this is actually his second biography of Giuliani – looks back over the entire career of this spirited revisionist. There are new reports and interviews; Yet much of the criticism covers familiar ground. Failures and excesses had always been there to see.
Because he governed the city during a period of recovery and because his behavior on 9/11 was exemplary, Giuliani came to be seen as a paragon of leadership. It wasn’t unfair. Much of political success depends on timing and luck. If the city’s economy or crime rate had gone down due to circumstances beyond his control, he should have taken responsibility for it.
In a way, the most important thing Giuliani did for New York was get elected. He ran against the Great Society liberalism that had dominated municipal politics since the Lindsay administration and which had developed a kind of institutional sclerosis, with the competing demands of various interest groups making governance nearly impossible. When Giuliani came to power, more than a million people – a third of the workforce – worked in publicly funded jobs in the health and social services sectors. Most of these people were unionized and the bureaucracy was essentially feudal.
There was little transparency. Just by giving the impression of clear leadership, Giuliani changed the political culture of the city – something that became very apparent when he left office and was replaced not (as many expected) by Mark Green, the city’s public attorney, who was taken, pretty or not, as a representative of the old liberal order, but by a businessman, Mike Bloomberg.
The standard story of Giuliani’s mayoral career credits him with reducing crime and restoring the sanity of city government. And the city changed dramatically under his watch. When he first ran for mayor in 1989, nearly every civic office in the city was held by a Democrat, and Democrats had a five-to-one advantage over Republicans in registration. voters. But for the middle class, the quality of life was deteriorating. The city was still struggling to balance its budget after its near bankruptcy in 1975; there were almost two thousand murders a year; public spaces were occupied by drug dealers and homeless people. Times Square was a den of iniquity; you couldn’t get into Bryant Park. The night air was filled with the sound of car alarms. People taped signs to their car windows: “No radio”.