- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

NEW YORK — The mayor of New York, who invariably confounds his worst critics, is emerging from the chaos wrought in his city as father figure, corporate executive, an avenging angel and, most of all, a man sensitive to the agony of those around him.

"This is what we expect of really good leaders and rarely get," said Robert Jervis, a political science professor at Columbia University and a self-described Giuliani-hater. "He is steady and calming."

Mr. Giuliani has exhibited many sides of his personality in his eight-year stewardship of the city. Term limits prevent him from seeking a third term, so his take-charge actions in these lame-duck days have inspired many to wonder what comes next after he departs City Hall.

If the current mayoral campaign, interrupted by the disaster, proved anything, it is that the Giuliani legacy is the standard by which all the candidates have measured their approach to voters.

The mayor loves a crisis, touring the city in his trademark van during the worst storms of the winter — 17 in just one year — running to a subway fire, dashing to the hospitals whenever the city's police suffer injury, speaking movingly from the altar at St. Patrick's Cathedral to the relatives of those who went down on TWA Flight 800.

But the World Trade Center disaster has been Mr. Giuliani's crucible. So far, by all accounts, he has risen to the occasion.

At ground zero, surveying the murderous wound inflicted on his beloved city, he is a familiar figure, a man whose quiet strength has blurred the memories of a bullying mayor who lectured reporters, curtly dismissed critics and assailed his enemies with a vengeance.

In addition to managing a monumental rescue mission, Mr. Giuliani has kept contact with relatives of the dead and missing. His public remarks have emphasized optimism, the hope that those still under the rubble still may be alive.

He also talks about a brighter future, and already has met with business leaders to discuss rebuilding the World Trade Center.

Mr. Giuliani even found time to threaten price gougers with stiff fines if they persisted in taking advantage of the disaster.

"Like Churchill, he is a giant who comes to life in moments of crisis, only to fumble into personal incoherence when faced with the mundane problems of day-to-day life," said Fred Siegel, professor of urban history at the Cooper Union for Arts and Sciences. "And like Churchill, his hour has come."

The city's newspapers have been generous in their praise of Mr. Giuliani.

The lead editorial in the New York Post, titled "A Mayor for a Crisis," called the Mr. Giuliani a "rock."

The New York Daily News also praised the mayor, saying he had "steadied the city, and done it with a grace under fire that is inspiring."

Even the New York Times, no fan of Mr. Giuliani, said "the mayor of New York trumps the president of the United States" in handling the crisis.

"He's done a superb job," said former Mayor Ed Koch. "He will be remembered for how he led the city through a crucial moment so that there was no panic."

Mr. Giuliani's behavior in this crisis certainly has burnished his political image, not an unhappy situation for a man who will be looking for a job at the end of this year.

Said Mr. Siegel: "Everyone I've talked to asks why isn't Giuliani in the White House when they compare him to Bush. The best remark I heard from a friend is, 'If we can't have John McCain, maybe we can have Giuliani.'"

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide