The idea that Rudy Giuliani would rise to victory with a wave of support from the large number of retired New Yorkers living in Florida always struck me as absurd. New Yorkers don't like Giuliani.
Another proof point for this assertion greeted us the morning of January 22 in the form of a brutal article in the New York Times by Michael Powell and Russ Buettner. Front page, above the fold, in the premier top-left corner of the national edition. The article eviscerated Giuliani, painting him as a vindictive man drunk with power. A man who valued loyalty above all else and would viscously attack anyone he felt crossed him, even if it meant violating the boundaries of civil conduct, and even the law itself.
"As mayor, he made the vengeful roundhouse an instrument of government, clipping anyone who crossed him."
After seven years Americans have grown weary of "my way or the highway, I'm the decider and law is subject to my interpretation" leadership. But I don't think this was even about national politics. This was local, this was personal.
Despite what the right-wing media machine might lead you to believe, the New York Times is more than a liberal paper, it is the American newspaper. It has the third highest print circulation and is the number one online newspaper in the United States. For the New York Times to level such a blow on Giuliani days before his Waterloo says something. It says, like most New Yorkers, they don't like him.
The ex-pat New Yorkers living in Florida read the New York Times. Just in case the steady glare of the sun dulled their memories of Giuliani over the years, the paper was going to remind them.
When the paper endorsed McCain for Republican Party primaries with an editorial on January 25 it described Giuliani in this manner:
The real Mr. Giuliani, whom many New Yorkers came to know and mistrust, is a narrow, obsessively secretive, vindictive man who saw no need to limit police power. Racial polarization was as much a legacy of his tenure as the rebirth of Times Square.
Mr. Giuliani’s arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking.
Maureen Dowd wrote Giuliani's preemptive second political obituary for the paper a few days later on January 27.
It figured that he would snowbird his strategy, taking his New York subtext of blacks-want-to-mug-you-and-I-can-protect-you down to Florida and switching it to Arabs-want-to-kill-you-and-I-can-save-you.
And I wasn’t surprised that he continued to run on fear and divisiveness, zeroing in on Florida the way he used to target Staten Island, Bay Ridge, Queens and parts of Manhattan where the elderly lived. Hizzoner always focused on those who supported him and ignored those who didn’t.
We can only hope there is no act three, but if there is you can be sure that New York will have its say.