Rudy at His Rudest

Rudy
Photo: Photo Illustration: Everett Bogue; Photos: Getty Images, iStockphoto

Before he became the mayor of America, Rudy Giuliani was the dark, petty, vindictive, small-minded, and possibly racist mayor of New York, GQ reminds us in their February issue's "Oral History of Giuliani's Temper," in which mostly the usual suspects (Ed Koch, Al Sharpton, Jerry Hauer) share stories of tangling with Rudy at his well, rudest. "He has this streak, Rudy, where he looks for unnecessary confrontations," retired NYPD chief Louis Anemone says. "Is he overcompensating? I sure as hell don’t know. But I worked with men, I worked with real men, and they didn’t have to do that." Ouch. With Giuliani melting in the polls lately, the takedown doesn't seem as urgent as it must have however many months ago they conceived of it, and there's not a lot of new stuff, but it is a nice little walk down memory lane. All of the great incidents are here: Amadou Diallo, Giuliani's role in the 1992 police riots, the scandal with the Brooklyn Museum, Abner Louima. Basically, it's like a big, juicy gossip sesh, made all the more fun for the fact that Giuliani is probably pretty steamed up about it, since, as lawyer Marcia Paul puts it, "one wonders more than anything else whether the man has a sense of humor."

• Gillian Sorenson, assistant secretary-general to the United Nations, describing the time Giuliani saw that the U.N. had invited Yasser Arafat to an event at the New York Philharmonic. "The mayor went ballistic. He totally exploded. He turned red in the face, he started waving his arms, he yelled at his trembling aide as if he were a worm, he yelled at me in language that I have not in my entire life been spoken to with. He jumped up and down. I have never seen a grown person act like a 3-year-old, but that is the way I have to describe it."

• Jerry Hauer, former director of the New York City Office of Emergency Management, on the time Giuliani tried to deny funding to the Brooklyn Museum because he didn't like one of their paintings: "I was at the press conference when he went through that fit of hysteria. I was standing behind him, and the minute he went off on his rant, I started backing up to get out of the shot, because I didn’t want to be on TV that night associated with his craziness."

• Former mayor Ed Koch: "I remember the leadership in the black and Hispanic communities would come to me and say, 'He’s a racist!' I would say, 'He’s not. He’s nasty to everybody.'"

• Dan Collins, co-author of Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11: "I think he just lacks a basic sense of empathy."

But it's not like GQ only quoted avowed Giuliani haters. They did manage to get this impassioned defense of his good character out of former deputy mayor and Giuliani Partners CEO Peter Powers:

• "I can’t explain to you what it was like every day going into City Hall, the criticism and the vicious remarks. We were accused of hurting the poor and being insensitive and everything, when you knew you were right and you had to stick to your guns. That’s the essence of Rudy Giuliani."

An Oral History of Rudy Giuliani's Temper [GQ]