Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani exemplified the spirit of resolve in the face of overwhelming odds and one of the most awful terrorist’s attacks in United States History. Rudy Giuliani has managed to exemplify courage as he fought crime in New York City in the 1990’s; fighting the drug dealers and members of the organized crime as hard as he fought do-nothing appeasers of such behavior within the city itself. Giuliani, once criticized for his actions in this area, has some of the lowest statistics on crime ever seen in the city in which to silence his critics. Also, his actions during the attack The World Trade Towers and his ability to put into words and actions, the resolve of the city and even the country against such ideologies of hate, has forever cemented himself as a permanent leader and one who will attract votes based on his leadership qualities, making him a formidable candidate in the 2008 Presidential election.
Rudy Giuliani was born in Brooklyn to working class children of Italian immigrants in 1944. At that time, his family had connections to organized crime and his father Harold, spent time in Sing Sing prison for assault and robbery and served as a mafia enforcer during the late 1950’s. This connection that his family would have to organized crime would work in Rudy’s favor in his later years as a politician. Rudy was never associated directly with any illegal activity. However, when it came to freeing New York City of the impediments which organized crime had on the city, Rudy was fearless in that pursuit and highly effective. Giuliani did very well in school and rose quickly in the ranks, eventually graduating cum laude from New York University School of Law in 1968. In 1970, Giuliani joined the Office of the US Attorney and in 1973, was named the Chief of the Narcotics Unit and eventually served as the United States Attorney. From 1977 until 1981, Giuliani practiced law but was called back into politics with the start of the Reagan Administration in 1981 which placed him as the third highest ranking officer in the Department of Justice. (Siegel, 2005. pg. 32)
As Associate Attorney General, Giuliani first began his national prominence as he used this position as a stepping stone in order to earn the position of US Attorney for the Southern district of New York. It was here that Giuliani took part in some high profile cases in which the Attorney General took a hard line against the lingering organized crime element of New York City. In the Mafia Commission Trial of 1985-1986, Giuliani indicted eleven organized crime figures on charges of extortion, labor racketeering and murder for hire. Anthony “Fat Tony”: Salerno, who was seen as the head of the Genovese crime family, was one of Giuliani’s biggest catches and he was sentenced to 100 years in jail for his illegal dealings while in the mob. Giuliani would use this as a stepping stone for his run for mayor of the city of New York. In 1993, after a previous failed run for mayor, Rudy Giuliani became the mayor by a slim margin of only 53,000 votes. He became the first Republican to win the office since John Lindsay won the office in 1965. (Burns, 2003)
It would be as the mayor of New York City that the name of Rudy Giuliani is most well known. This certainly is for his role in the days of 9/11 and its aftermath but he was also able to make a name for himself in the years before 9/11. Crime in the 1980’s among all of the major cities in the country was one of the major problems. In New York City, and specifically in Manhattan, crime took a corrective plunge while Giuliani was mayor. The crime families had taken a hard hit and Giuliani made no mistake, crime would be one of the problems on his list of priorities. Giuliani was able to clean up the city to a large part, due to his ruthless pursuit of his goals; a pursuit which turned off many people as well. Former New York Mayor Ed Koch said: “He is a good mayor, but he will never be a great one. He cannot accept disagreement. When it happens, he wants to destroy you.”(Burns, 2003) It seemed however, that this is what the people of New York wanted and in 1997, Giuliani won a second term as Mayor of New York.
Before the attack on the World Trade Towers, Rudy Giuliani was known as a crime fighting mayor. However, when the attack on New York on September 11, 2001 occurred, it was Giuliani that was seen as “America’s Mayor” as he helped to keep the country and the city together by his stance that New York will rebuild and that the terrorists will not stop American and their love of freedom. It was the scenes of the mayor walking through the streets as people were jumping from the World Trade Towers and his care and concern for the people of New York, that his approval ratings in the weeks after the attacks, reached 79%. It was the people who might not have agreed with his policies but who saw him as a leader and at that time in the history of New York that is what was placed as the highest of importance within the people of New York.
It has been more than five years since Rudy Giuliani has left politics, yet he still remains high in the perceptions of not only the people of New York but for Americans as well. With the mayor looking to run for the presidency, despite the fact that he is among nine other Republican candidates, he and Senator John McCain are the two men to beat. This comes from the leadership qualities that the mayor has and which the American people believe, is needed in this time of war. Will this equate into a successful run for the presidency in 2008? It is hard to tell. Giuliani is at odds with his Republican base on issues such as immigration, homosexuality, gun control and abortion to name a few. However, he still leads in many of the polls within the Republican base because of his leadership qualities. Republicans who might not vote for him due to their disagreement on the social issues, still regard the mayor as a leader and one whom they wished that they could agree with on the social issues.
Rudy Giuliani is a leader in two areas of his political life: His fight on crime in the 1990’s and his actions during the attacks on 9/11. Giuliani aggressively attacked crime in the city and said when he was criticized for his ruthless attack on the city’s crime: “People can do anything that they want, be anything that they can be. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion abut what you do and how you do it.” (Siegel, 2005 pg. 195) Giuliani was able to break the backs of the crime families in New York City and it was estimated that he saved the city more than $600 million through these efforts. (Siegel, 2005 pg. 277) These were the first actions which helped to propel Giuliani into the spotlight and which caused him to have many admirers both within the city and in the entire country.
However, most people remember Giuliani was the mayor of New York at the time of the attacks on the World Trade Center. America has become a very image consciousness society. The average American is consumed with thousands of images on the television and with other forms of electronics and technology. People remember what they see more than what the read and as a result, those who saw, in the days during and after the attacks as well as in follow up stories in the years to follow, the mayor walking around the city as the two towers were still erect. There was no way of knowing whether or not there would be further attacks on the city and if the mayor’s life was in danger. This did not seem to matter to the mayor and he went down to ground zero himself while there might have been more attacks to come in order to survey for him, the damage that the city had taken. People, who might have agreed with him on various stances, were able to forgive him and offer their support during this most troubling time. Also, the mayor was highly protective towards New York. When Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal criticized America and said that their stance in support of Israel and other policies in the Middle East invited these attacks and then the Prince offered $10 million in support for the city, the mayor refused the gift.
He responded by saying: “There is no moral equivalent for this terrorist act. There is no moral justification for it… I think that this happened because people were engaged in moral equivalency in not understanding the differences between liberal democracies like the United States, like Israel, and terrorist states and those who condone terrorism. So I think not only are those statements wrong, they are part of the problem.” (Burns, 2003) Such statements and examples of the ideology of the mayor, has helped him to reach an almost iconic stance among those in New York and around the country who feel that American’s war on terrorism is one of the most pressing issues in the country and the world today. In the end, the mayor was a symbol for the resolve that the people of New York had and he expressed this resolve on many occasions: “:Tomorrow New York is going to be here. And we’re going to rebuild, and we’re going to be stronger than we were before. I want the people of New York to be an example to the rest of the country, to the rest of the world that terrorism cannot stop us.” (Siegel, 2005 pg. 304) In these efforts, Rudy Giuliani has been seen as “America’s Mayor.” He is hoping that will be enough to propel him into the presidency in 2008.
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