- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2000

For a citizen dragging in the throes of Clinton fatigue, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is a tonic. Having seen his poll-margin of victory in the New York race for the U.S. Senate against Hillary Rodham Clinton evaporate over his reaction to a recent police shooting make that, over the political and media reaction to his reaction Mr. Giuliani refuses to wriggle his way back into the establishment's good graces. When asked by Fox's Bill O'Reilly whether, in retrospect (that is, after the recent polls), Mr. Giuliani wished he had done anything different in handling Patrick Dorismond's death last month, Mr. Giuliani said, "No."

How simple, how unequivocal and how unusual in a politician, circa 2000. Why, even Mr. Giuliani's supporters seem unnerved by this magnetic-North kind of conviction, a fact which indicates how dizzy Americans have become after seven years of spinning Clintonism. That is, not only has Mr. Giuliani not changed his mind; he hasn't even pretended to change his mind, that being the conventional and downright Clintonesque thing to do. For this heresy, Mr. Giuliani has been condemned in the media, on the hustings, and within political circles both friendly and unfriendly. Looks like Mr. Giuliani's stars are in perfectly hostile alignment. How did they get that way?

This brings us back to the Dorismond shooting. After a late-night "buy-and-bust" operation led first to blows between an undercover officer and 26-year-old Patrick Dorismond, and then to Mr. Dorismond's death in the ensuing struggle as two back-up officers entered the fray, Mr. Giuliani responded to the incident as he always responds to such incidents: He put information out, and fast.

The mayor said Mr. Dorismond was "no altar boy," a young man with "a propensity for violence" "who hit people." He had a juvenile arrest record for assault and burglary, an adult arrest for drug possession, and a police complaint filed days before the shooting by his live-in girlfriend that claimed he had struck her head while she held the couple's child, and made harassing phone calls. For releasing these facts, the mayor had "divided the city," declared Mrs. Clinton. For declining to reach out to the black community and treat the shooting as a manifestation of racial prejudice (an absurdity considering that all involved were minorities), the mayor had shown "an utter failure of leadership" and "written off entire communities," she further charged.

Is that what he did?

Imagine if Mr. Giuliani had kept a lid on the Dorismond rap sheet and reached out, as they say, to the grieving family. That's exactly what Mr. Giuliani's predecessor David N. Dinkins did in 1992, after a police shooting left Kiko Garcia dead in Washington Heights. In the near-vacuum of information, the 23-year-old dead man later proven to be a drug dealer with a record of criminal activity was lionized on the streets and, in some cases, in the press as an innocent gunned down in cold blood by a racist cop. Mr. Dinkins paid two separate consolation calls on the Garcia family, intensifying the aura of both martyrdom and governmental culpability. Did Mr. Dinkins' actions "unite" the city? In "reaching out," did his "leadership" secure the Washington Heights community?

The answer is no. But they did help kick off several nights of violent rioting, including an attempt by rioters to shut down the George Washington Bridge. It is the Kiko Garcia riots that inform Mr. Giuliani's information policies on police shootings (down, not incidentally, 77 percent since 1993), not polls, not focus groups, and not Al Sharpton. In other words, the man is guided by his own compass. Whether it gets him to the U.S. Senate is, these days, anybody's guess.

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