- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 25, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) It seems only fitting that one of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's favorite operas is "The Marriage of Figaro," a tale of a nobleman suddenly and unexpectedly forgiven for transgressions from abuse of power to infidelity.
Mr. Giuliani's eight contentious years as mayor have nearly paralleled the opera, plowing through scandals and accusations, but wrapping up this week with Mr. Giuliani a hero. On Sunday alone, he carried the Olympic torch into Rockefeller Center and he was named Time magazine's Person of the Year.
The outpouring of praise as Mr. Giuliani prepares to leave City Hall on Dec. 31 would have been unthinkable a few months ago, when newspapers carried stories about his bitter divorce, his defense of police officers involved in two shootings of unarmed black men, and his losing battle with the Brooklyn Museum of Art over what he labeled "indecent" art.
Then terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, killing more than 3,000 people, and in the span of a few days, the mayor's gentle handling of a city in despair vaulted him from being regarded as a lame duck politician to a civic saint mentioned for the Nobel Prize.
"He comes out of eight years being remembered primarily for two months," said former Mayor Ed Koch, who has both lauded and criticized Mr. Giuliani over the years. "Prior to September 11, he substantively did a good job, but he lacked the sensitivity to make what he did do even better."
Mr. Giuliani has acknowledged that he could have made better choices.
"There are things probably I would do differently in terms of judgments I would make if I could make them again, but I've given every effort that I'm capable of and tried to do as good a job as mayor as I possibly could," he said.
Mr. Giuliani, 57, had been destined to be remembered for his fight against crime, his love of the spotlight and the bizarre events surrounding his divorce.
Now, even old enemies cannot speak about him without talking about his performance as a leader after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
"He's done a good job during the crisis. I have no criticism," said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been at the receiving end of countless barbs from Mr. Giuliani.
Mr. Giuliani, a hard-charging U.S. attorney in the 1980s, lost his first campaign for mayor to David Dinkins by 50,000 votes in 1989. Four years later, he defeated Mr. Dinkins by about the same margin after a brutal race.
He stormed into City Hall as a reformer a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic city, but a Republican who believed in abortion rights, homosexual rights and gun control.
His mandate was to quell the city's escalating crime rate, particularly murders. He cracked down on "quality of life" crimes, on turnstile jumping, jaywalking and sidewalk artists, and he used new federal funding to put thousands more police officers on the street.
Analysts point to Mr. Giuliani's success battling crime combined with the nation's longest economic expansion in history as the elements that assured his 1997 re-election.
"New York was seen to be teetering on the edge of civic breakdown," said Douglas Muzzio, a political science professor at Baruch College. "Rudy comes in as the sheriff. He's Cary Grant. He's Alan Ladd. He's John Wayne. He came in and did what needed to be done. He cleaned up Dodge City."

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