October 26, 2009

ALL THE THINGS THAT MADE HIM AN UNACCEPTABLE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE MAKE HIM AN IDEAL GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE:

The Indecider: About New York’s governorship, as about so much in his recent political career, Rudy Giuliani can’t fully, wholeheartedly make up his mind. (Michael Crowley, Oct 25, 2009, New York Magazine)

For a man defined by his certitude and personal force, his presidential campaign was oddly halfhearted, an echo of his abortive Senate bid eight years earlier. After his 2008 campaign, Giuliani all but vanished from the public eye. But David Paterson’s haplessness opened a door. The Rudy-for-governor buzz built for months, providing a failed White House contender with an opportunity to reintroduce himself, on television (Meet the Press panelist, CNBC Squawk Box guest) and on the front pages of the Times and Post. He seemed to draw energy from all the attention. (Although his appearance with Mayor Bloomberg reminded many New Yorkers of what they didn’t like about him.) The rumblings of a run even brought the ultimate compliment, the attention of the Obama White House--leading to that clumsy attempt last month to persuade Paterson to stand down, clearing the way for Andrew Cuomo. (While recent polls consistently show Giuliani thumping Paterson by double-digits, the reverse has mostly been true with Cuomo.)

But in Kingston, Giuliani was coy. He hardly seemed prepared to commit to saving New Yorkers from their dire fiscal fate. That much was clear when, just before his speech, Giuliani fielded questions. "I’m here to help," he explained. "I’m not here to dip my toe in the water." So when would he make up his mind? "I’ll turn my attention to that after the elections are over and figure it out," he said. "There’s still plenty of time."

Hoping to learn more, I met with Giuliani last month in the sleek and modern offices of Bracewell & Giuliani, the Houston-based law firm where he has been a partner since 2005 and where he spends about half his time. Rudy was running late. It was September 8, the week of the sacred anniversary, and Giuliani was observing it this year with, among other things, a pretaped guest appearance with his wife, Judith Giuliani, on The View. Seated on a canary-yellow couch, he explained to Barbara Walters how seeing someone jump from the burning towers changed him forever. Walters was dazzled. "Should he run for president?" she cooed to Judith.

Judith smiled and dodged the question. But when Rudy marched into a Bracewell conference room--"Let’s eat!" he said, going bulgy-eyed at the catered sandwich plates--he sounded like someone who thinks more about being president than about being governor. He opined on health care (no big government), Afghanistan (send more troops), and Iran (be wary of meddling in their politics) on the way to rendering his verdict on Obama: ""I thought we would get more of a moderate," he said. "I was expecting more like Clinton than more like Jimmy Carter."

In this context, the subject of running for governor seemed less inspiring to him. He gave the distinct impression of a man for whom the state job may not be quite enough.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 26, 2009 7:52 AM
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