Responding to his opponent's repeated taunt that he is a ''Ronald Reagan Republican,'' Rudolph W. Giuliani said after an appearance at an Orthodox Jewish private school yesterday that he could just as easily call David N. Dinkins a ''Jesse Jackson Democrat.''So Dinkins tried to portray Giuliani as too conservative for NYC and Giuliani shot back with a parallel epithet.
Purdum again in 1993: "Rudolph Giuliani and the Color of Politics in New York":
But is Giuliani the right man to save [the city]? Can a hopscotch candidate, a purebred product of the tidy world of St. Joseph's, win and govern a hip-hop city?In sum, he was the squarest guy in the world back then, and that was connected to race.
Though he is just 49 years old, Giuliani often seems a striking throwback in New York City's anything-goes atmosphere. It's as if his cultural and psychic sensibilites froze about 1961, the year he left the tutelage of the Christian Brothers at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn. This is a man so square that he started an opera club in high school and still refers to his old high-school classmates as "other youngsters"; so corny that he proposed to his current wife at Disney World; so accepting of authority that he says the nuns and brothers who taught him were right to smack him around, because he often deserved it. He says that he simply "missed" the convulsions of the 60's, that the dilemmas of long hair or inhaling "never came up." Pictures of Abraham Lincoln and Babe Ruth hang on his office wall; David Dinkins displays photographs of Nelson Mandela and Jennifer Capriati.
Giuliani can be so awkward in public -- with hunched shoulders and a tremulous voice -- that his best friends fret constantly that New Yorkers will never know Rudy like they know Rudy. That Giuliani is the warm father who can't imagine spanking his 7-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, the man who lives in the same Upper East Side building as his elderly mother and who on New Year's Eve dances alone with his wife to Frank Sinatra records in their apartment.
Giuliani's Wonder Bread image carries risks in a polyglot city where no single racial or ethnic group predominates, and no topic will be trickier for him than race.
THE TWIST IN GIULIANI'S nostalgic pitch is that he is making it just as New York stands poised for a new political order, made inevitable by demographic shifts in a city where non-Hispanic whites are no longer a majority. In a profound sense, this son of the 50's is running against history. Even if he wins, he may be the last white man for years to lead his city.We see that 15 years ago, the NYT portrayed him as a throwback, but the old article shows its age with the assumption that only the old fashioned think about transcending racial divisions. (Or else Barack Obama is a throwback.)
"I've got to get this city to stop thinking in categories, to stop thinking in terms of black and white and Hispanic, and gay and heterosexual, and get us to start thinking about people," Giuliani told a group of working-class Hispanic parents in Sunset Park this spring, in an almost plaintive declaration he makes often. "I've got to get New York to stop thinking about all this symbolism."
While that may sound disingenuous to some, Giuliani is undoubtedly sincere. Far more than Dinkins, he needs to keep overt references to race out of the campaign. Dinkins's race, which helped elect him in the first place as a nonthreatening healer, remains one of his greatest assets. What Giuliani really means is that he must be free to talk about race and ethnicity on his terms, and to attack the Mayor's record, without being seen as racist.
Here's today's front page article on Giuliani and race, "In a Volatile City, a Stern Line on Race and Politics," by Michael Powers:
Mr. Giuliani, aides say, found a city in the early 1990s where most of the departments affecting the lives of black New Yorkers from schools to welfare to public safety were dysfunctional. Too many citizens expected government to coddle them, and too many black leaders, said Peter Powers, one of Mr. Giuliani’s oldest friends and his first deputy mayor, were afraid to work publicly with a white Republican mayor.Much more in the article, which details a particular time and place -- NYC in the 1990s.
How do the volatile racial politics of that time relate to the current presidential campaign?
Save for immigration, Mr. Giuliani rarely fields questions about race on the campaign trail. Republican voters, who are overwhelmingly white, have clamored to hear about 9/11 and terror....Well, it seems that the NYT is keen on bringing race forward in the discussion of the 2008 campaign. I doubt if it helps Giuliani to sort through the painful incidents of the 1990s, though it can't hurt to repeat the amazing statistic that he reduced crime by 60 percent.