Pondering the reputation of Rudy Giuliani during his tenure as New York City mayor, I suppose I arrive at the Chris Matthewsism “He got rid of the pee smell in the Subway”. Delve that a bit deeper than the immediate problem, and it is that he managed the homeless problem — solving it by shoving them to New Jersey.
That is not unattractive or without its virtues to the New York City voting public. He, I hear, solved (or lessened to a considerable extent) New York City’s crime problem. As often happens, the crime rate’s drop started with the previous administration — the much maligned Dingle Administration — but this goes along my contention that George Herbert Walker Bush would have been re-elected had Alan Greenspan lowered the interest rates a whiff sooner than he did, as the economic recovery was starting at the end of his administration. Them’s the breaks!
So it was that Rudy Giuliani fired the police commissioner — Bill Bratton of the “Broken Windows” docrtine — that Time gave a cover feature regarding how the city was turning crime around, lest he receive less credit. Or so goes the speculation.
Which all may be moot. By the time the NYPD plunged a plunger up a black man’s anus, Giuliani’s general public approval had dissolved away, taking this to be a bit gratuitious. I think these general police controversies are the hallmarks of just about every city’s government (LAPD being most famous). The electorate shifts about a little, and I suppose the core supporters, his most ardent supporters, wouldn’t see anything wrong with any of the racially-tinged police incidents. The pee-smell in the Subway has been wiped out, after all.
There is a book out which criticizes the before-now unattackable — Giuliani on 9/11 — Grand Illusion, the birth of the tedious title of “America’s Mayor”, the reason for him being quasi-presidential timber. Traction-wise, the myth (whatever truth may or may not be in the truth) is likely impenetrable.
Zooming around, one facet of his reputation befuddles me, one that if asked to expound on the contours of what I perceive as Rudy Giuliani’s legacy I would end up focusing in as emblematic of what looks both appealing and non-appealing about it — and I have no clear answer. Times Square. He “cleaned up” Times Square. He did so essentially by selling it to Disney. Mind you, I am the last person that should be discussing the cultural or political history of New York City, but I have come to figure that any wistful nostalgia for the Time Square of of olde is a fraud –romanticized pain — a feeling rushing in that life gave you the worst and you slugged it out. A thousand David Letterman opening jokes from the 80s and early 90s run through my head right now — all of them the same. Thus, Times Square is given its quirk, and you smile at it.
My question about Times Square. Could it possibly have been renovated in any other matter? It looks like an improvement, but an improvement to a nonetheless unsettling condition.
It’s a question that haunts any area of urban blight, and digging deeper exposes an unsettling reality of who we allow to control our lives, ie: Disney or Drug Dealers — if not one, the other. Porn or the Vice-Cops. One or the other.
Giuliani: He’ll do to America what he did to New York City. Which is to get rid of that pee smell and stick a plunger up your ass! Is it a Deal?