... Mr. Giuliani was led through a basement and out onto Church Street, his head and shoulders dusted white with ash. He walked north into the surreal brightness of that day, comforting a police officer and dragooning reporters....Do we have an irrational attachment to Giuliani? Is he satisfying psychological needs that we ought to start examining objectively?
That walk north, the spareness of his words and his passion became the founding stones in the reconstruction of the mayor’s reputation, transforming him from a grouchy pol slip-sliding into irrelevancy to the Republican presidential candidate introduced as America’s mayor. The former mayor has made this day the centerpiece of his presidential campaign, aware that millions of Americans hold that heroic view in their collective mind’s eye.
Political leadership is an uncertain alchemy, an admixture of the symbolic and substantive and the visceral. In times of consuming trauma, psychologists and historians say, a leader must speak with a trusted voice and sketch honestly the painful steps to safety. A leader must weave a narrative of shared loss while acknowledging consuming anger.
All this Mr. Giuliani accomplished, mourning the dead, comforting the grieving and cheering the living even as the police and the National Guard moved in. His critics have lambasted the rescue failures at ground zero and argued that his inattention before 9/11 cost lives.
But his performance shone brighter for the implicit comparison with President George W. Bush, who initially appeared — fairly or not — frozen in his chair, listening to second graders read as a nation came under attack.
September 21, 2007
"From a grouchy pol slip-sliding into irrelevancy to the Republican presidential candidate introduced as America’s mayor..."
Michael Powell on Rudy Giuliani: