America To Rudy: Thank You

Chris Smith, writing in New York Magazine, grudgingly reminds us of Rudy Giuliani’s amazing leadership on 9/11 and the aftermath:

…What truly mattered, then and now, is that Giuliani was this city’s mayor, distilled, in all his contradictory glory, when we needed him the most: among the people in the streets fleeing the Towers’ collapse because his multimillion-dollar emergency bunker had gone down too; issuing clear-eyed calls to ­remain calm as he learned that many of his close friends had been killed; taking a brief break to hug the gay roommate who’d given him a place to sleep when his marriage fractured; condemning the barbarity of our attackers while emphasizing tolerance for Muslim New Yorkers; leading around-the-clock meetings with cops, firefighters, and federal officials to improvise an unprecedented rescue-and-recovery effort; but most of all, for speaking these words a mere five hours after the attacks: “The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear, ­ultimately.” Probably the city would have borne up without him. But Giuliani, showing what a leader is supposed to do in a crisis, did more than any single person to keep us together.

And a fuller treatment by Seth Mandel:

Every year around this time, as the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, I re-read Time Magazine’s 2001 Person of the Year profile of Rudy Giuliani​. This year, when I read it again, I found it easier to understand how as an undeclared candidate Giuliani still polls at nearly 10 percent nationally. And when I watched as our current mayor, Giuliani’s successor, did his best to look awake during press conferences about Hurricane Irene, I found it easier still.

It’s difficult to quantify the concept of “leadership.” It’s one of the reasons Giuliani had such a rough time gaining traction as a national candidate in 2008, especially since he was running seven years after the attacks. Rick Perry can talk about the jobs created in Texas during his tenure; Mitt Romney can point to executive experience with direct relevance to the country’s current challenges. But if Giuliani mentions his executive experience, he will have the “noun-verb-9/11” joke thrown in his face, as Joe Biden did in 2008. (Incidentally, I have always found it unsettling that a man who thinks 9/11 is a punch line has become our vice president.) [my emphasis] The Person of the Year article, written by Eric Pooley, begins with this:

“Sixteen hours had passed since the Twin Towers crumbled and fell, and people kept telling Rudy Giuliani to get some rest. The indomitable mayor of New York City had spent the day and night holding his town together. He arrived at the World Trade Center just after the second plane hit, watched human beings drop from the sky and — when the south tower imploded — nearly got trapped inside his makeshift command center near the site. Then he led a battered platoon of city officials, reporters and civilians north through the blizzard of ash and smoke, and a detective jimmied open the door to a firehouse so the mayor could revive his government there. Giuliani took to the airwaves to calm and reassure his people, made a few hundred rapid-fire decisions about the security and rescue operations, toured hospitals to comfort the families of the missing and made four more visits to the apocalyptic attack scene.

At 2:30 a.m., Giuliani finally got home…

With the President out of sight for most of that day, Giuliani became the voice of America. Every time he spoke, millions of people felt a little better. His words were full of grief and iron, inspiring New York to inspire the nation. “Tomorrow New York is going to be here,” he said. “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, and the rest of the world, that terrorism can’t stop us.”

The country still seems to be grateful for Giuliani’s leadership…

In politics, the American memory rarely contains more than fleeting moments and evanescent passions. But Giuliani’s heroics appear to be the exception that proves the rule. It doesn’t seem nearly enough, 10 years later, to get him elected president. But his leadership during that time shouldn’t be dismissed, either. America’s Mayor consistently gets about 10 percent of the vote–again, a decade later, and again, as an undeclared candidate. It isn’t the base of a presidential campaign, but it just might be America’s way, in whole or in part, of saying thank you–of saying: some things, we don’t forget.

And let us not forget Rudy’s singular accomplishment of yanking New York City back from the abyss by attacking the crime and squalor then strangling his city. He achieved this despite the best efforts of the extremely powerful New York liberal media and political establishment’s best efforts to stymie his efforts.

His success in transforming New York from a city people feared to enter (think of the menacing squeegy guys) to one people once again wished to live in and visit is an achievement unlike any of today’s politicians can claim.

Thank you, Rudy.

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