Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rudy Giuliani, Ubermensch

One of the interesting things about the indictment of Rudy Giuliani crony Bernard Kerik is the way this Giuliani-Kerik hug picture is telling the story. This picture not only does its primary job of showing Giuliani and Kerik together, it also shows the nature of their relationship. Rudy Giuliani was "the man" and Bernard Kerik was "his guy." Giuliani was hugging Kerik as a gesture of patriarchal domination. It was a nod from Rudy Giuliani that had made Bernard Kerik a public figure in the first place and Giuliani was reminding Kerik with a little hug that he still very much had Giuliani's favor. He was also reminding Kerik that he was Giuliani's guy rather than his own guy. As the head of the Riker's Island prison and police commissioner, Kerik was a reflection of "the mayor" and it was part of his job description to be a great deal smaller than the outsized, ubermensch persona Giuliani was defining for himself.

How big does Rudy Giuliani think he is. Big enough to get away with appointing Bernard Kerik to the position of police commissioner despite knowing that Kerik had mob ties. Here's John McCain's campaign manager:
After being briefed on Kerik's ties to organized crime, Giuliani named him chief of the New York Police Department. Without any further vetting, Giuliani asked him to join his security consulting firm. Despite obvious ethical problems, Giuliani went so far as to personally recommend Kerik for the top job at the Department of Homeland Security.
This is one of the key elements in Rudy Giuliani's case for the Republican nomination as it should be understood. From Giuliani's point of view, he is the best person to protect the United States from terrorism because he is willing to do anything to protect the United States and he has the nerve and the ability to make it work. In ignoring Kerik's mob ties, Giuliani demonstrates that he doesn't have to care about what anybody things of does. Giuliani was as completely unconcerned with Kerik's mob ties as he's been with the niceties of Iowa campaigning, kowtowing to the religious right, or hiring blacks and women for his campaign staff. Embracing Bernard Kerik means that he would also be willing to stick it to the Soviet Union and China, attack Iran, ignore Congress and the Courts, and engage in wholesale torture. Republican voters want the torture as a substantive matter but they also want a presidential candidate who is just as willing as Dick Cheney to break all the rules of domestic politics and international law. And they want somebody who looks like he's smarter than George Bush when he's doing it.

In other words, Republican voters will want somebody with Dick Cheney's ideology and Bill Clinton's competence. And Rudy is portraying himself as that guy.

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