Wednesday, March 07, 2007


If You Knew Rudy...

As Rudy Giuliani moves to front-runner status among Republican candidates for president in 2008, it's incumbent on us New Yorkers to alert the rest of the country to what life was like when Rudy was in charge. One of my favorite essays about Giuliani's style of governance is "Letter From Occupied New York" written by John Leonard in 1999, about five years into the Dark Ages of Rudy. A quick google search found a copy here, and reading it again for the first time in eight years brought back all the anxieties I remember feeling as a resident of Rudy's New York. Every single paragraph is positively chock-a-block with reminders of the angry, ruthless, arrogant manner with which he ruled, but this graf stands out:
The last five years in New York have been less about government than they've been about obedience training. Rudy's a guy with a built-in balcony, from which he barks our marching orders. Lawful assembly, and such free-speechifying as may attend its occasion, are particularly sore points around here. Before he was even elected the first time, in October 1993, candidate Rudy opposed letting Louis Farrakhan speak at Yankee Stadium. In March 1995, a wall of cops surrounded City Hall, with horses, scooters, nightsticks, riot gear, barricades and Mace, to keep 20,000 high school and college students from marching on Wall Street. That June, Rudy kicked Yasir Arafat out of Lincoln Center. The following May, he would use armored cars against homeless squatters. The first official act of his second term, last New Year's Day, was to close his own inauguration to the public, after which he directed the Metropolitan Transit Authority to remove from buses and subways a New York magazine ad that took his name in vain, which was followed by checkpoints and roadblocks in Greenwich Village against anarcho-syndicalists and other rowdies, and video surveillance cameras in Washington Square Park.
Read it and worry.

p.s. What really worries me is that this may actually be exactly what America wants!

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