There we were, in the existential, horrorshow aftermath of September 11, having spent all day helping ash-covered parents find their kids, making phone calls for 10-year-olds whose mothers were still in the Bronx, and wondering what the fuck had just happened to our city. Our so-called “President” G.W. Bush was on some airplane in an undisclosed location, and by late afternoon, the word started circulating that Islamist terrorists were to blame.
We were desperate for somebody to Be In Charge, and that evening, somebody was: Rudy Giuliani, our lame-duck mayor, standing with some city officials in front of a big clock on the wall, as if he was somehow going to slow down time enough for us to catch our breath. And he did.
His exhortations for us to stay calm, to dispel thoughts of retaliation against other religions or races, was so brilliant, so soul-fulfilling, so necessary – that Tessa and I turned to each other, and, having once despised the man, smiled through tears. Someone had actually said it: even on this day, the worst day in America, it is NOT OKAY to savage other people for believing differently.
If many Americans thought this Giuliani was too good to be true, they were right: apparently, these days, it’s not okay to savage other people unless they happen to be Democrats. Today he said that Democrats “do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us” and if they were elected we’d suffer “more losses.” Giuliani is worse than just an asshole – he’s a cynical, tragic bastard, because he has proven than he knows better.
How often can the Republicans flog this horse before even the staunchest cowboys say “enough already”? It’s one thing for five-time draft-deferrer (and Known Coward) Dick Cheney to say this crap, but Giuliani? This is someone in whom we’d put an enormous amount of faith, someone who seemed genuinely changed by the lunar landscape of Ground Zero and had not just made political party affiliation meaningless, but had forged insoluble ties between Christian New Yorkers and Muslim New Yorkers. The man probably saved lives in those early days. And now he says if Democrats are elected, we’ll have more losses?
This is beyond sad, it’s despicable. It’s the Republican playbook all over again: stand on the smoking mountain of charred remains and announce that you possess the only secret that will keep it from happening again. Rudy, you kept us sane for those horrible weeks, and for that you’ll always have my gratitude. But for now, honestly, go back to your mistress and leave matters of national security to the adults who don’t need a national crisis to find their moral compass.