March 26, 2007

Rudy Giuliani’s closet is filled to overflowing, and its contents are dropping out all over just as he ratchets up his presidential bid. And there’s a lot more than bones in those dark recesses: go here for the full (450 pages!) story, but I’ll give you the short (and spicy) version:

It’s all about the “weirdness factor,” as a secret study done by the Giuliani election team and leaked to the “Smoking Gun” website puts it. There’s the matter of his first marriage, to his cousin, Regina Peruggi: Rudy claims that for 14 years he didn’t know that she was a twig on his very own family tree, but if you buy that, you’re no doubt still waiting for those “weapons of mass destruction” to be unearthed in Iraq any day now.

Although he doesn’t say exactly when he took the trouble to investigate his family genealogy more closely, Rudy started seeing Donna Hanover in 1982: his marriage to Peruggi wasn’t annulled by the Church until the tail end of ’83. This particular corner of Giuliani’s closet is a particularly dank and cobwebby realm, best not looked at too closely. As the secret study put it, the matter of his first marriage “has been raised in the media as an extremely bizarre event.” And we’re talking about his home town media: just wait until the evangelicals in the outbacks get the lowdown on what has charitably been described as Rudy’s “chaotic” personal life, which is racy even for cosmopolitan New York: this was reportedly the real reason he backed down from challenging Hillary Clinton in the Senate race. The Giuliani dossier goes on to bluntly assess the candidate’s vulnerabilities:

“In reviewing the news stories describing this event and others in his private life, there are numerous inconsistencies and questionable circumstances about how long the two were married, whether Giuliani knew he was marrying his second cousin, whether he dated other women while still married.”

None of this matters, of course, to the neocons who seem to have united around Giuliani: indeed, they rather prefer it, I think, because it underscores their elitism, their sense of themselves as philosopher-kings exempt from the myths that dominate the lives of ordinary men and women. There is one truth for the elites, and another one for the masses. If you’re a Straussian, this isn’t monstrous hypocrisy: it’s the natural order of things.

Ah, but don’t worry, the anointed one will be able to bamboozle the bourgeoisie on account of his ascension into the mythic iconography of 9/11, and his reputation as America’s Mayor and his hardline neoconservative foreign policy views: according to CBS News, Rudy “perhaps more than any other candidate comes closest to holding neoconservative views on foreign policy.” Rudy will come packaged as the uber-Bush, a more decisive and even ruthless leader who will complete the neoconservative revolution by launching simultaneous invasions of all Muslim countries, and with Russia thrown into the bargain for good measure. This is to be followed very shortly by the ditching of the Constitution, and, presumably, the End of History.

Or, at least, the end of our old republic, and the beginning of the age of the American Caesars. Let a descendant of the ancient Romans reclaim the imperial purple – yes, life is full of little ironies, and mostly they are unpleasant surprises.

The neocon conception of American foreign policy as seeking out “benevolent global hegemony” is perfectly suited to Rudy’s imperial persona. His supposed strengths as the “national security” candidate are what, one supposes, the neocons regard as their trump card: i.e., a continuation of our crazed foreign policy which is opposed by more than two thirds of the American people.

This, however, is what counts to the ghoulish coalition that currently controls the GOP: Upper West Side neocons, and born-again backwoods folk quite inured to the idea of kissin’ cousins. Add to this the rising generation of Ann Coulter fans who are ready for a new Lider Maximo, and we have Bushism without Bush, a dissolute prince of the city whose inner demons are to be enacted on the world stage.

If we are going to compare American Presidents to Roman emperors – a practice, I fear, bound to become customary in the annals of future history tomes – a President Giuliani would probably turn into an American Caligula, who, in a gesture of contempt for the surviving institutions of the old Roman republic, appointed his horse proconsul. Bernard Kerik, Rudy’s former close associate and his pick for Homeland Security chief, is probably comparable to that, although I wouldn’t want to insult horses, but you get the idea if you follow the links.

What interests me about Kerik, however, isn’t the alleged organized crime connections, or even his typically New Yawkish grabbiness and gaudiness, his persona as a “character” – the “Mayhem Magnet”—but his briefly held position as “interim” minister of the interior in newly-conquered Iraq. Here we had just subjugated the country, and the first wave of neocon-connected appointees were flown over there, including Kerik – who, as unofficial head of the thuggery department, set up the Iraqi national police. Here’s a clip  from his interview with the Lehr News Hour that gives us the flavor of his methods and practices:

“If you pick the right leaders and you place them in the right positions, let them do their job and that’s sort of what’s going on in the police now. We appointed a senior deputy minister, we appointed the chiefs in Baghdad throughout the rest of the country. We have to make sure that we keep track of them, monitor them, but let them do their job, let them pick the right people; then the job gets done.”

These “police” are now functioning as death squads, executing and ethnically cleansing Sunnis from Baghdad and environs: they have already accomplished this in the largely Shi’ite south. The job is indeed getting done.

If and when Rudy takes the oath of office, and swears to uphold the Constitution, there will be many more Keriks to come. Believe you me, it isn’t going to be pretty. About as pretty as Rudy in drag.

Not that there’s anything wrong with drag queens, provided they’re either entertaining or convincing. I once saw a group of them standing on a Jalan Sultan Ismail in Kuala Lumpur, on Christmas eve: they seemed like young and very girlish elves, so small and willowy were they, calling out in their singsong voices. More feminine than your average American woman, in any case: exclaiming on their beauty, I was corrected by my young, uh, guide, who assured me that these were “lady-boys.” (Another of life’s little ironies: there are more lady-boys on Jalan Sultan Ismail, a busy thoroughfare in a supposedly Islamic country, than there ever were on San Francisco’s Castro Street. )

I don’t care one whit about Giuliani’s private life, although I have a hard time believing the evangelicals are quite ready for the rutting Rudy. He is, after all, an Italian male, with certain impulses wired into his brain, particularly that part of it that rules the sexual imagination. I say, more power to him in that department – life, as the Italians know, is to be enjoyed, rather than endured. But what we shouldn’t have to endure is a Giuliani presidency, which would be a disaster in both the foreign policy and civil liberties departments. As far as the latter is concerned, if he treats the Constitution like he treated the New York City Charter, we are in for a hard time. Regarding the latter, I’ll just cite his stated views:

“We’ve got to start getting beyond Iraq. We’ve got to be thinking about Iran. We have to think about Syria. We have to be thinking about Pakistan and Afghanistan and making sure that the transition in Afghanistan goes correctly. We have to be ready for the fact that, whatever happens in Iraq, success or failure — success will help us in the War on Terror. Failure will hurt us. But the war is still going to go on. They’re still going to want to come here and kill us.”

It wasn’t Iraqis who attacked us on 9/11, and yet Giuliani insists on seeing everything through the prism of 9/11 – and so, in his world, we don’t need to inquire too closely into who “they” are. In this Orwellian age, the enemy is bound to change, anyway, at any particular moment: you’ll recall that, yesterday, the enemy was the Ba’athist “dead-enders,” and their Sunni supporters. Today it is renegade Shi’ites, like the Mahdi Army, and the very “police” force-death squads that Giuliani’s buddy Kerik set up. A more classic example of “blowback,” as the CIA types call it, would be hard to imagine. And we’ll be getting plenty of blowback from the foreign policy of the Giuliani administration, promising to be even more reckless (if that’s imaginable) than Bush’s – and that’s my real objection to the first drag queen in the White House.


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