In 1941, W.C. Fields starred in the movie, “Never Give a Sucker an Even Break.” In 2000, the movie might be remade substituting the word, “Republican” for “Sucker.”
Now don’t get us wrong. This is a free country or reasonably free if you have a few dollars in the bank, arranged to have the right parents and know the names of the head waiters in all the restaurants where knowing the names was more important than the food they served. So people are free to hate Republicans because their jackets and pants don’t match, or their ancestor had the bingo concession on the Mayflower. They should not be free, however, to equate certain conduct of our Democratic president with the personal agony of a Republican mayor. This is like saying that Aunt Sofie, who sold popcorn at the Loew’s Orpheum on Pitkin Avenue, and Rita Haywood were both movie stars.
It is generally conceded, even by Democrats, after a few more than a few drinks, or in a night of true confessions, that Rudy Giuliani has been the best mayor of New York City since LaGuardia, or perhaps ever. Crime, welfare rolls and unemployment are down, tourism is up, and the city has once again become the cultural and business capital of the world, shining like a star on the horizon of the new millennium. Hillary Clinton on the other hand, stuck a pin in a map and decided New York would be the state she would allow to send her to the Senate, notwithstanding the fact that her major achievement to date is having avoided indictment. Then tragedy struck. Rudy was diagnosed with prostate cancer, a photograph was taken of him with a woman not his wife (although for over a year, in an obviously calculated effort to embarrass him, his wife made it clear she did not want to be considered his wife) and, quite characteristically, he made a forthright and rather eloquent public statement. He explained that his marriage had gone the way of half the marriages in America, discussed his illness, spoke touchingly about the state of his marriage and family and in a praiseworthy fashion about his wife. It was pure undistilled Giuliani; direct, take blame where appropriate, tell it like it is, take me as I am, and what you see is what you get.
Mr. Giuliani had to decide if he would continue his run for the Senate. His decision was undoubtedly driven by the requirements of the treatment of his cancer, and certainly not his personal situation. The last person to make a decision of state on the basis of his family situation was the Duke of Windsor, who put down his knitting deciding girls might be more fun, and ended up drifting across the world in a tuxedo which was about the level of his competence. Since Rudy labors under the unusual premise that a politician should earn his pay (an assumption not seriously accepted by his predecessors) he had to decide if radiation and/or surgery would leave him strong enough to be both a senatorial candidate and mayor. He decided it would not, and New York City will have a reprieve for another year, until the usual political vultures can once again begin attacking its carcass.
Rudy Giuliani did not commit perjury, suborn perjury, obstruct justice, lie to the American public, lie to his associates, tie up the Congress for a year, cause $40 million dollars to be wasted, stand accused of rape and semi-rape, be declared in contempt of court, use a 19-year-old employee for his own pleasure and try to reinvent the English language.
If anyone believes there is any similarity between President Clinton’s actions and Rudy Giuliani’s situation, they should go back to the Loew’s Orpheum on Pitkin Avenue and get Aunt Sofie’s autograph.
Jackie Mason is a comedian and Raoul Felder is an attorney.