Tim Russert… hero/ Rudy Giuliani… dreadful

10 12 2007

With the US primaries just around the corner, staff at Bobballs have been catching up with TV Stateside. That’s when we discovered Meet the Press. Great stuff.

It’s the finest political discussion show we’ve seen in a while. Chair Tim Russert challenges but isn’t intrusive. The politicians don’t get an easy ride, unusually they get a fair shake.

It’s always well researched, analytical and accessible to viewers. We don’t have its equal over here, though Andrew Marr is heading in the right direction. [AM’s relaxed, constructive approach reached its apex last Sunday when he did an excellent impersonation of Vince Cable before asking him about the economics behind the Northern Rock. AM’s comic genius can be found here.]

Tim Russert is definitely not a Paxo. He’s not even Kirsty Warke doing a Paxo. He’s not even John Sopel doing a Kirsty Warke doing a Paxo. He seems genuinely to seek honest answers, as opposed to setting booby-traps.

Fair enough. So what the hell happened to Rudy?

Unfortunately the excellent and detailed Meet the Press website contains a transcript of all the weird stuff he unnecessarily confessed to. At one stage Russert was moving on to another topic when Rudy called him back to confess to wrongful behaviour (?). Ahem…

MR. GIULIANI: My, my moral views on this come from the, you know, from the Catholic Church, and I believe that homosexuality, heterosexuality as a, as a way that somebody leads their life is not—isn’t sinful. It’s the acts, it’s the various acts that people perform that are sinful, not the—not the orientation that they have.
MR. RUSSERT: The Congress is discussing and…
MR. GIULIANI: Which includes me, by the way. I mean, you know, unfortunately, I’ve had my own sins that I’ve had to confess and had to deal with and try to overcome and so I’m very, very empathetic with people, and that we’re all, we’re all imperfect human beings struggling to, to try to be better.
MR. RUSSERT: Congress—the House has passed an energy bill which would mandate 35 miles per gallon per automobiles by the year 2020. Would you support that?

Giuliani wasn’t finished there. Within 30 seconds he pledged never to make any pledges to the American people.

MR. RUSSERT: Would you pledge to balance the budget if you were elected president?
MR. GIULIANI: Sure, I would make the goal—I would make it a goal of…
MR. RUSSERT: But not a pledge.
MR. GIULIANI: I don’t do pledges. I didn’t do a pledge on taxes. I stated my intention. I said my intention is to lower taxes. I have a record of lowering taxes. My intention would be to balance the budget. I have a record of eight balanced budgets in a city where we had some serious economic and financial difficulties at various times, and we figured out a way to balance the budget. So I have a really good record on that.

So that’s all right then.

So often he dropped the pretence that there were two sides of the story. He just fessed up. Why is he so penitent? A nasty dose of mens rea?

(on appointing the NY police commissioner)
MR. RUSSERT: Did you place personal loyalty over integrity?
MR. GIULIANI: No, I did not. I didn’t—I would never, I would never do that. I—what I did, here’s what I did do wrong. You want—the mistake was, I should have checked it out much more carefully before he went forward for any of these positions. And I didn’t. I didn’t check it out carefully enough. I should’ve done that. I usually do, and 95, 98, 99 percent of the times I’ve gotten it right. Gosh, I made a mistake. I, I learned from it. In the future, I’ll be much more careful about it. I should’ve checked him out much more carefully, and I didn’t…
… So the reality is—and I, I write about this in my book—I know my judgment is not going to be 100 percent correct. You try to get to 100 percent. It’s been correct enough so that I’ve had a great deal of success, I’ve been able to deal with crises very effectively, and I’ve been able to turn things around that other people haven’t been able to turn around. It doesn’t mean that I can’t make—as one of my predecessors, Fiorello LaGuardia, used to say, he used to say, “I don’t make many mistakes, but when I make them, they’re big ones.”

Check this guy out! Making big mistakes is an unusual qualification for the presidency. Will this suicidal, to-hell-with-the-presidency, I’m-no-ambitious-Beltway insider style honesty catapult this man to the presidency? No. No fuckin way. His hour with Tim offered up a surfeit of madcap gaffes and reckless confessions supporting a drip feed of negative stories likely to persist throughout the first clutch of caucuses (where Rudy is weakest).

He wrote a book about leadership. And in terms of high leadership, he wants to the top job. But he got led throughout this interview. Rudy didn’t impose himself. He came across as weak and at the mercy of events. Like this…

MR. RUSSERT: Let me ask you about terrorism. You were front and center on September 11th. You testified before the September 11th Commission, and there was an article recently in the Village Voice that cited some comments you made. I want to ask you about them: “Rudy Giuliani told an audience at Pat Robertson’s Regent University: ‘Bin Laden declared war on us. We didn’t hear it. I thought it was pretty clear at the time, but a lot of people didn’t see it, couldn’t see it.’ A 15-page ‘memorandum for the record,’ prepared by a 9/11 commission counsel and dated April 20, 2004, quotes Giuliani conceding that it wasn’t until ‘after’” September 11th “that ‘we brought in people to brief us on al-Qaeda.’ Asked about the ‘flow of information about al-Qaeda threats from 1998-2001,’ Giuliani said: ‘At the time, I wasn’t told it was al-Qaeda, but now that I look back at it, I think it was al-Qaeda.’” That doesn’t seem someone who’s very aware of the al-Qaeda threat before September 11th.
MR. GIULIANI: I wasn’t very aware of it before September 11th. I, I knew about it in general. That’s what I was saying to the commission.
MR. RUSSERT: But they had been participants in the ‘93 World Trade Center bombing.
MR. GIULIANI: Right. I knew that.
MR. RUSSERT: In 1998, al-Qaeda declared war on the U.S.
MR. GIULIANI: I, I knew that.
MR. RUSSERT: But if you knew that, why weren’t you briefing your people and being more front and center on that issue?
MR. GIULIANI: Well, because I, I, I didn’t…
MR. RUSSERT: Of being prepared for it?
MR. GIULIANI: …didn’t see the enormity of it. Neither did the administration at the time. My—I was, I was dependent on the briefings that I was getting from, from, from the administration, and they were not—I don’t think they saw the threat as big as it was, as, as, intense.

And he wants to be the Commander in Chief. Amazed at how dreadful he was. Dreadful.




3 responses

14 12 2007
Brian Crowe

Bob, Rudy’s gay comments were unnecessarily convulted – he should have simply said that as a practicising Catholic he makes a clear distinction between people and acts, and everyone irrespective of orientation has a fundamental dignity that must be respected. But reading through the rest of the transcript you give … he really was bad.

I saw him doing stump speeches C-Span in the States during the summer. Compared to GWB, he was simply excellent in terms of delivery. His consistent use of term ‘Islamic terrorism’, however, was disconcerting. He has little sense that the handling of foreign policy post-9/11 has been a disaster.

I came out backing him on the YU site earlier this year. On balance, I probably would still do so. Definitely the best GOP candidate with the best chance of beating the Dems.

Huckabee also interests me. Ok, ok, his ’92 comments on people with Aids was disguisting while his views on evolution are laughable. But on taxes, social responsibility, education, he seems to be doing something different from what American conservatives normally say. Which is precisely why conservatives are attacking him.

Immigration is perhaps the issue to watch in the GOP primaries. If deployed effectively in the primaries, it could become the new GOP wedge issue in the campaign – polls indicate that blue-collar Dem voters are susceptible on the issue.

14 12 2007

Who’ll make it?

Mitt Romney is a Mormon (spelled that with two Ms, okay). Despite the recent Rise and Rise of Mitt Romney, surely US voters will not endorse en masse the position of a non-christian. Yip, bit controversial that. But see Huckabee gave him a kicking for it.

Huckabee will sit on an evangelical hardcore and try to shed that big central government image (the bit I like). Though maybe he’s the strongest in the field, I don’t know.

I too liked Rudy, but the New York mayor one. Think about 18 months ago a republican drill sergeant rocked up to Rudy and screamed ‘Squad, squad! By the Right, Right turn!’

While licences for undocumented immigrants (white Irish) are needed, fences and security guards are needed to stop other immigrants (non-white Mexican). Inconsistency there Rudy?

I personally think the Republican field is poor. I fancy bits of the old Huckabee and the old Rudy – that is, the bits that aren’t republican. So I can understand why they’ve jettisoned this stuff.

Think the media will turn on Rudy. Too many sources & business interests, too much history, and countless leads and trails for investigative journalists to explore/exploit. He’ll keep journalists in copy for some time and lose momentum and get flattened as a result.

Could Huckabee be the one to make through nomination… and earn the dubious distinction of being horribly thrashed by Clinton?

Republicans seem to be fixating on the immigration issue. Think that whomever masters a tough line on immigration will get the republican nomination. Then we’re back to another messy, divisive election. Hippies on the seaboards, rednecks in the centre. I’d love to see a strong and unified United States – building external relations and leading through consensus (okay, that last bit won’t be an election-winning slogan, but think it’s important to get away from all this unilateralism).

Unfortunately the field is a bit threadbare on the consensus stuff. Only Obama seems to come close…

14 12 2007

Oh and Rudy has been married way too many times. Dude, keep it in your pocket. And again, the media will make sure America knows about all the ins and outs, er, so to speak.

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