Chris Rock Has a Good Question About Giuliani“Everyone says Giuliani was great on 9/11,” said Chris Rock during his show at MSG on New Year’s Eve. “What about on 9/10?” Joshua Jackson refused to let anyone sit with him and girlfriend Diane Kruger at the Soho Grand’s New Year’s Eve party. ABC anchor Bob Woodruff has made a full recovery from his Iraq injuries and recently went skiing. Eddie Murphy’s ex-wife Nicole Murphy hung out at the Plumm with New York Giant Michael Strahan while Murphy was getting ready to marry Tracey Edmonds on an island in the South Pacific. Britney Spears’s latest team of lawyers dumped her after a “breakdown in communication.”
‘Vanity Fair’ Makes New Giuliani Ad Seem Even Nuttier
It’s not all Spitzer for Vanity Fair: The current issue also contains a towering Rudy profile, “A Tale of Two Giulianis,” by Michael Shnayerson (whose sister Maggie is now the longest-serving editor at Gawker). In a lower-key fashion than last week’s dueling Newsweek and Village Voice features on Rudy’s supposed terror ties, Vanity Fair delivers a series of excellent mini-scoops on the man’s business practices. Case after well-researched case shows Giuliani peddling bits of his 9/11 reputation to just about any taker, from foreign governments to “typical denizens of the penny-stock world — dreamers and the occasional scam artist.” Shnayerson follows Giuliani’s paid-up crusade for the makers of OxyContin, first as a lobbyist, then a lawyer; his shilling for Nextel; etc. More disturbingly, he then catches Rudy putting plugs for his clients into his political speeches, which are then reported as legitimate news. The choicest tidbit, however, is the one where the author quickly settles a personal score.
New York’s Dominant Politicians: So Last MonthWhat the hell happened? We headed into the new week secure in our conviction that New York is the nexus of the universe, and the rest of the world is finally coming to terms with it: Witness the election season dominated by an avowed Yankee fan and Rudy Giuliani. Then came the latest poll numbers. According to USA Today-Gallup figures, Hillary has slipped by eleven points in the last month, and Rudy by nine. (Hey! Nine-eleven! Spooky!) Obama is actually leading Clinton in Iowa, and a man named Huckabee is closing the gap with Rudy. Dems hoping to ride the Clinton coattails are increasingly nervous, and Hillary herself is beginning to fidget: She’s intensified her anti-Obama rhetoric, calling him an unqualified “talker” (in what the Times terms a “mellifluous voice”).
Today in Giuliani: Lies, Damn Lies, and StatisticsYesterday, Giuliani waved off the growing perception that, during the heady early days of his courtship with Judith Nathan, he misused taxpayer dollars by billing treks to Southampton to obscure city agencies. “This story is five years old,” he told Katie Couric last night. “It’s a typical political hit job.” At the least, Mitt Romney, who has been criticizing Giuliani’s fiscal policies, is chuckling. Since Politico broke the story on Wednesday, Rudes has been shamed by former mayors David Dinkins and Ed Koch as well as current mayor Mike Bloomberg: (“We use credit cards, but not for that,” Bloomberg’s spokesman said.) Said comments caused Giuliani’s deputy mayor Joe Lhota to sheepishly retract an earlier statement that this kind of accounting has “gone on for years,” and predated his boss. “I should only talk about what I know about,” he said. Some have come to Giuliani’s defense, like Fran Reiter, his former deputy mayor who now works for Hillary Clinton, who said that while Rudes’s bookkeeping methods were wonky, his expenses were ultimately legit. “The only political issue is any potential embarrassment because he was going out to Long Island to meet with Judith.” Well, yeah. Today, the Times piles on with a story about how the statistics Rudes uses in campaign speeches are usually “incomplete, exaggerated or just plain wrong.” Such as one he used in Wednesday’s Republican debate: “Under me, spending went down by 7 percent.” (An aide told the Times what he meant to say was that he had proposed a 7 percent reduction in per-capita spending.) They also weigh in on the scandal, running a picture of the motel in which Rudy’s security stayed while presumably waiting for the boss to emerge from his cocoon of SeniorSex and concluding with an excellent quote from voice of truth and reason Bernie Kerik:
“There would be no need for anyone to conceal his detail’s travel expenses,” said Mr. Kerik, who was indicted earlier this month on unrelated federal tax fraud and corruption charges. “And I think it’s ridiculous for anyone to suggest that the mayor or his staff attempted to do so.”
Well, there you go. If Kerik says everything Rudy does is above the board, it must be, right?
Earlier: Giuliani May Have Billed Summer Weekend Flings to Taxpayers
Rudy Drag Video Elicits Intelligent Commentary
In the days before Rudy Giuliani was a poll-topping juggernaut, we always assumed that one look at the ex-mayor in one of his famous drag guises would be enough to give nightmares to about 20 percent of the voters he’d need to get elected. But the days tick by, the primaries are near, and nothing’s happening. Were we too cynical? Is the electorate enlightened enough to take the sight of its future president decked out like Dame Edna for the inconsequential joke it is? We didn’t bother with a poll. We went straight to the gaping maw of American idiocy: the YouTube comments section. Specifically, the 1,611 comments to a clip titled “Rudy Giuliani in Drag Smooching Donald Trump.” Herewith, the cream of the popular reaction (original orthography preserved, naturally).
Republican Debate: All the Sexy HighlightsLast night’s Republican CNN/YouTube debate opened with fireworks: Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney heatedly debating whether Romney was responsible for hiring illegal immigrants to work on his house (and if so, would he recommend them to friends and neighbors). But like an actual fireworks display, it soon grew repetitive and numbing. For those of you who flipped to Kid Nation, here’s a rundown of the evening’s highlights.
Giuliani-Romney Slapfest: Productive!
Who’s on top in the current slapfest between Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, wherein both candidates lustily highlight each other’s flip-flopping? Slate thinks “Romney is unlikely to win this tit-for-tat” because Rudy’s got YouTube on his side — there’s a lot of fairly recent sound bites of the former Massachusetts governor saying somewhat liberal stuff out there. On the other hand, it’s not like Rudy hasn’t got a formerly stellar gay-rights record just waiting to be fashioned into a Sodom-and-Gomorrah attack ad. In the meantime, both have discovered a perfect smear tactic: link the opponent to Hillary! Yesterday, Romney reached back to 1994 to remind voters that Giuliani “had nothing but praise” for Clinton’s ill-fated health-care-reform plan. Which is, well, true. Funny thing, though, Giuliani himself recently accused Romney of “sort of [doing] Hillary’s plan in Massachusetts.” Following the whole interaction is, frankly, not unlike watching two kids kick a dead squirrel back and forth: Both keep yelling “ew,” but nobody’s man enough to stop, even though the squirrel is going to be kicked right back. One irony here is that both Mitt and Rudy are correct: Both used to be far less ideologically rigid when it came to concrete governance issues, hence the now-damaging quotes. Another irony is that their spat is reframing the Republican primary race as a two-way contest — leaving behind a handful of actual lifelong conservatives. In the end, the only one left undiminished is the squirrel. —Michael Idov
Romney: Giuliani Praised Clinton Plan [AP]
Totally Impartial Politics Fan to Giuliani: ‘Why Are You So Awesome?’
Remember how much mileage the right got out of Hillary Clinton’s “planted question” flap, when a college student was asked to bring up the candidate’s environment record at a campaign event? Well, it appears Rudy Giuliani has got his own Jeff Gannon–esque superfan in one Richard Florino. The Rudy volunteer (and a co-chairman of his campaign in Windham County, New Hampshire), was called upon to lob the first questions in two back-to-back stops on Giuliani’s bus tour. The first one: “What makes the liberal Democrats so wrong about the threats that this country faces?” Good one! (Or, as Rudy put it: “Very, very interesting analysis.”) The second question, a day later, was a trenchant two-parter about both Democrats’ tax policies and Romney’s flip-flopping. Florino, of course, says he’s not a plant: “Basically,” he told the Daily News, “I just love politics.” Or maybe he just hates hard questions: He is likely the same Richard Florino whose ornery letter to New Hampshire’s Nashua Telegraph shames Hillary for being tough on General Petraeus. He works a Rudy plug into that one, too.
Giuliani Goes Double or Nothing in Iowa and New HampshireGiuliani must be seriously freaked about Iowa and New Hampshire. Just as a group called “9/11 Parents & Families of Firefighters” is preparing to pillory his terrorism record with a town-hall meeting today in Hanover, New Hampshire, the Republican candidate has launched his first direct-mail offensive that touts him as “America’s Mayor.” While he’s boasted about his 9/11 record in the past, until now he’s refrained from using his media-given nickname to get attention. But with Romney in the lead in the two key early-primary states, Giuliani is now targeting voters in both with a pamphlet explaining how he “led the largest rescue and recovery operation in US history.”
Giuliani’s First TV Spot: It’s No ‘United 93’
It’s a pivotal moment in the 2008 race: The day voters get to see Giuliani’s ferrety smile in a softly lit close-up. That’s right, the Republican front-runner finally answered the public clamoring for more multimedia Rudy and premiered his first TV campaign spot, which will begin running today in New Hampshire. The ad goes straight to Giuliani’s credentials: eight years running New York City, “the third- or fourth-largest government in the country.” (About that “third or fourth” thing — they couldn’t look it up?) As we know, whenever Giuliani mentions his hometown, he’s forced to perform a complicated two-step of praising it and dumping on it at the same time; this time he does it with, um, pictures.
Judith Regan: Still Got It!By now everyone in the world knows that Judith Regan, the ex-publisher who almost brought you O.J.’s If I Did It, is suing her former bosses at HarperCollins; it’s all a part of her professed desire to make her life “smaller, not bigger.” (Also part of the spotlight-reducing plan: recording a cover of “My Way,” writing about it in Harper’s Bazaar, and sending an mp3 of it to Gawker.) But it turns out the lawsuit might have implications beyond the publishing beehive. At issue is Regan’s much-documented affair with Bernie Kerik, infamously conducted atop the Shroud of Turin in an apartment near ground zero reserved for first responders.
Cop-Union Honcho Takes a Bite Out Of GiulianiGiuliani must have known this day was coming. The New York City policemen’s union, the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, has publicly turned against his candidacy. According to the Post, in another blow to Giuliani’s NYC credibility, PBA honcho Patrick Lynch said his group “could never support Rudy Giuliani for any elected office.” Lynch’s beef with the former mayor is over contract disputes that tarnished the end of his mayoralty. Now, never mind the fact that it’s basically Lynch’s job to gripe about cop salaries — Lynch also pretty much owes his position to Giuliani’s tightfistedness. He was elected as head of the PBA in a surprise upstart election, running in 1999 at a time of major policeman frustration with Giuliani. Still, even though it was surely expected, the presidential candidate’s camp couldn’t muster much of a stinging comeback to Lynch’s attacks. “Mayor Giuliani has always had, and continues to have, strong support from law enforcement,” said a spokeswoman, in a statement that, aside from being demonstrably untrue, is also kind of boring. His camp is probably banking on the fact that this story won’t go far outside the city limits. People here know how the cops feel about Rudy, but outside he’s still cashing in on the fact that most people probably think he actually is a cop. Just like how people outside the city think he actually is a Yankees fan.
Oh God: President Giuliani?With Pat Robertson’s surprise endorsement delivering unto Giuliani a whole new demographic we’d never guess would swing his way, the air of inevitability surrounding Rudy has never been thicker. It could be, as a colleague suggests, that our East Coast bubble obscures the actual, awesome extent of his heartland popularity; it could also be that, after McCain’s sad diminution, the Republicans have simply been unable to produce a serious rival. Either way, 362 days before the general election, the swelling certainty of Rudy’s nomination is making the Democratic field look like a tossup. Even stranger, the man is nigh invincible, and not just because he survived a Mob assassination plot (that probably never happened). Rudy’s been making gaffes left and right — big ones — and yet the only stories on him that get any national pickup are folksy character profiles. (We even contributed to the trend by publishing a letter from his former chef, who painted him as “a man of simple taste pacified with a slice.”)
What If Rudy Married Elizabeth Kucinich Next?We’re not huge fans of the trope that follows Elizabeth Kucinich around. (You know: “Dennis doesn’t need poll numbers — he already won”). It’s flippant and ever-so-slightly swinish. That said, yesterday Mrs. Kucinich spoke at the same breast-cancer summit as Judith Giuliani, and you know what? Screw it: Dennis already won. Elizabeth (a) showed up in a stylish pink coat hinting at, but not aping, the breast-cancer ribbon color, (b) spoke knowledgeably and off-the-cuff about the British health-care system, and (c) stuck around to chat.
McCain Orders Code Red on GiulianiGod knows you don’t need to dig too deep or spin too hard to catch Rudy Giuliani saying something awful. Usually, you just have to wait five minutes into a given public appearance — yesterday’s “I hope to do for the country what Bernie Kerik did for the city” comment comes to mind. And that’s why today’s flap over the candidate’s “torture joke” strikes us as a bit of a reach. Rudy made a funny about how, if sleep deprivation is torture, then his campaign schedule is torture, too. Before you knew it, John McCain demanded an apology, and the ex-Marine who runs McCain’s Veterans Advisory Committee in New Hampshire said, “His hyperbole is an insult to all American soldiers who have had to endure real torture.”
Giuliani Does Not Sleep. He Waits.Either as a result of a major weekend push by Giuliani’s handlers or by pure serendipity, today wound up as a kind of Meet-the-real-Rudy Media Monday. The AP’s folksy profile, which started things off, illustrates why global newswires shouldn’t be in the folksy-profile business. “Rudy Giuliani minces no words and suffers no fools,” the piece starts. “He eats peanuts with the shells still on.” It goes on like this, about his tender-age love of boxing and opera and his “volcanic eruptions of pique,” basically verging on a Chuck Norris joke (Giuliani’s tears cure 9/11 first responders’ syndrome. Too bad he never cries) throughout.
Is Mukasey Giuliani’s New Kerik? Kinda!Like many in the media, we had a brief crush on Michael Mukasey, Bush’s pick to replace the selectively amnesiac Alberto Gonzales as attorney general. The man was a born-and-bred New Yorker, after all, and a respected judge to boot. Chuck Schumer all but endorsed him. We blushingly called him “like, a decent guy.” Hell, we thought he’d give his pal Giuliani an unfair advantage in the race! “Can this really be?” we wrote. “Has the man never worn a dress? Are there no nipple clamps in his bedside table?”
‘Times’ Offers Definitive Non-Proof of Giuliani PlotSo, was there really a Mob plot to kill Giuliani in the eighties? Rudy’s certainly reaping the reward — the ability to say, with a weary smirk, that it’s all in a day’s job. Let, then, the polite underminers at the Times take you on a journey of noncommittal skepticism, as only the Gray Lady can. Herewith, our paragraph-by-paragraph anatomy of today’s very gentle hit.
Mob Allowed Giuliani to Live, Wear Leather VestsThis bit of today’s news will undoubtedly be welcome in the Giuliani campaign HQ: Yesterday, a witness at a trial mentioned a mob-boss summit in the fall of 1986 where a hit on Rudy Giuliani was seriously discussed. The Gambinos wanted the pesky prosecutor dead; the Bonannos demurred. Giuliani lived to milk his landmark Mafia investigation all the way to City Hall — and now he can easily squeeze it for an additional bio-burnishing PR tidbit as a presidential … sorry, what were we saying? We can’t concentrate because we’re staring at the bewildering photo of ‘86-era Rudy that accompanies the story. What’s that look he’s going for? It’s like … a leather-daddy Woody Allen with Paul Simon’s hair. Forget the crime-fighting cred: Rudy better hope this story doesn’t get any traction.
Court Told Mob Bosses Voted on Whacking Giuliani In ‘86 [NYDN]
Rangel Actually Embarrassed by SomethingCongressman Charlie Rangel has always had a sharp tongue, and now he seems to be putting it at the service, so to speak, of Hillary Clinton: Yesterday, he rolled out exactly the kind of red-meat attack on the GOP candidate field that Clinton (whom Rangel supports) would be far too civil to launch. “Two people, six spouses,” Rangel told CNN, referring to the total number of marriages between Rudy Giuliani and Judith Nathan. “It’s a little complicated if you’re not religious, especially if you’re running against a Mormon.” He added: “There are enough moles on this man that embarrasses those of us who have sought public life.” Wow. First of all, we’re not sure where Rangel was going with the Mitt Romney crack, but it wasn’t anywhere good. And second, moles? Those are not moles — they’re weasels!
Rangel: Giuliani ‘Embarrasses Us’ [CNN]
Hero Mayor Saves Hero CopNot only does Mayor Bloomberg earn valuable PR points by riding the subway to work — he also saves lives. Sort of. When a rider went berserk on the 4 train yesterday afternoon, a transit cop from the mayor’s entourage promptly took him down. Touchingly, it’s the cop, Frank Zaluk, who credits Bloomberg with saving his life, and not the other way around. You see, Zaluk would have been on the 3 p.m. Staten Island Ferry in October 2003 — the one that crashed into a pier, killing ten — if not for Mike, who needed additional security detail to ride the 4 train to a Yankees game that day.
So there you have it: A New York City mayor becomes a hero just by standing around at the right time.
Related: Giuliani’s Lead Widens [Time]
Mayor Bloomberg Safe As Madman Attacks Transit Cop [NYDN]
Giuliani Wins NASCAR Support That Spitzer DeservesToday we learned that Rudy Giuliani is the favored presidential candidate of Jeff Gordon and several other NASCAR superstars whose names we didn’t recognize but whose support may open up a huge southern Christian demographic for the thrice-divorced Catholic Brooklynite. It’s the most popular sport in the country, people! We dutifully checked HuffPo’s indispensable FundRace tool, and, indeed, there it was: Gordon’s $2,300 contribution to the Rudy campaign (offset slightly by Riverside Drive’s Jeff Gordon, a Columbia professor, throwing $250 at Hillary).
Giuliani Trash-Talks the City He Supposedly Cleaned UpToday in the Times, Adam Nagourney does a great job describing the awkward dance presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani performs around his supposed main achievement (other than looking good on 9/11): cleaning up New York. Rudy’s dilemma is that the scarier and dirtier the city sounds, the better he comes across for having “tamed” it. This tack has one obvious drawback — it’s insulting to people who actually live here — but it plays like gangbusters with the New York transplant crowd Giuliani is courting in Florida and elsewhere. Still, should he get the GOP nomination and keep up the NYC trash talk, we’re facing the bizarre possibility of a national back-and-forth on whether New York as inherited by Giuliani from Dinkins was as awful a cloaca as Rudy depicts it.
Bono Would Totally Hate Giuliani Bud Paul SingerOver the last week, we noticed what looked like a pretty well-organized effort to smear Hillary Clinton by getting at her advisers and donors. Guess what — it works both ways. The Democrats would like to direct your attention to one Mr. Paul Singer, who is both donor and adviser to Republican presidential front-runner Rudy Giuliani. Singer runs Elliott Associates, an investment firm that specializes in so-called “vulture funds” (i.e. buying up Third World debt at a discount, thus mucking up the global issue of debt forgiveness). How unsavory, if legal, is Singer? Let the DNC count the ways
Giuliani (Almost) Weasels Out of Ferret StoryThe hunt for Rudy Giuliani’s weak spot is on. Hillary Clinton — who’s leading the mayor 51 to 43 percent in the latest poll (people! They haven’t been nominated yet!) — goes right after Giuliani’s handling of 9/11. He may have had all the photo ops, her new ad reminds us without naming the opponent, but she was the one who stood by ailing first responders. It ties in nicely with her health-care initiative and delivers an oblique slap. Today’s Times takes a different tack. In what might prove a genius move, the paper has begun combing through the trove of Rudy’s radio archives. Back in the late nineties, the mayor had his own show, and it was not, as you may imagine, the docile fireside chat we get from Bloomberg.
Giuliani Eats Up Sandwich Man’s Cheesy SignsYou’re an ex–New York City mayor running for president, and your opponents accuse you of being too soft on illegal immigration. Of course you’re soft on illegal immigration — how else would you have run New York? Sadly, that line of reasoning is not going to play well in the kind of town where they haven’t seen a Mexican since Charlton Heston played one in Touch of Evil, which is precisely the kind of town you need to win over. What do you do?
It’s Goya For Gioia
• Queens Councilman Eric Gioia is living his own version of Supersize Me: as an awareness-raising stunt, he will spend one week on a $28 food budget (the average food-stamp allotment). His strategy: lots of peanut butter and beans. [NYDN]
• So, what do we know about the Fort Dix Six? Three of them belonged to an Albanian family (more of a clan, we suppose, with 200 members in the U.S. alone) that owns roofing businesses in New York and New Jersey. The other two, a Palestinian and a Turk, lived in Philly; the sixth man, a self-described Kosovar sniper, remains a mystery. [NYT]
• Just as Murdoch’s Dow Jones–related news presence was waning, the mogul comes up with a doozy of an announcement: He will take News Corp. carbon-neutral. For instance, 24 will use biodiesel generators to film its deranged right-wing torture fantasies. No, seriously. [NYP]
• Rudy Giuliani won’t comment on Pope Benedict XVI’s statement that all politicians who support abortion rights should be excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Which is probably a good idea: Given Rudy’s recent record, not much good comes from his commenting on, well, anything. [amNY]
• And, the city’s about to stop its insanely popular subway-themed condom and lubricant giveaway because “it is unclear whether the condoms are reaching target groups.” The Health Department hasn’t ruled out launching a different brand. We suggest the “Old Times Square” theme. [Kaiser Network]