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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

An uncaged beast

That animal was nicer than Giuliani

Two parts hubris, one part paranoia

9/11 gave America amnesia about the real Rudy Giuliani. He's an authoritarian narcissist -- and we don't need another one of those in the White House.

By Cintra Wilson She

Dec. 5, 2006 | There is something deranged about you ... this excessive concern with little weasels is a sickness ... you should go consult a psychologist or a psychiatrist with this excessive concern, how you are devoting your life to weasels. You need somebody to help you. There are people in this city and in this world that need a lot of help. Something has gone wrong with you.

-- New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on his radio show, to a ferret advocate, after imposing New York's 2001 ferret ban

There is at least one nice thing one can say about former New York mayor and current Republican presidential hopeful Rudolph Giuliani -- besides, of course, his penchant for dressing in drag, his love for opera, and the fact that he used to share an apartment with a gay man.

On 9/11, all Americans were frightened children, and in a moment of mythic personal heroism, Mayor Giuliani filled the gaping leadership void. The president looked like a petrified chimp; Cheney was spirited to an underground bunker. Only Giuliani could pull himself together sufficiently to get on TV in the midst of the wreckage and show America that a grown-up was still breathing. On that terrible day our reptile brains looked at Rudy Giuliani and said, "We're OK now. Daddy's home."

And we forgot, some for a moment, some permanently, that Daddy was psycho.

The attack on the twin towers blew a hole in downtown Manhattan and in our collective memory. Osama bin Laden and company did a better P.R. job for Giuliani than spin ghouls Hill & Knowlton ever did for Dick Nixon. He made everyone but the most grouchy and resentful New Yorkers forget that before planes crashed into the World Trade Center, Rudy was a hyper-authoritarian narcissist with a lust for overkill verging on the sociopathic.

And now, at a time when the machinations of another hubristic bully have brought an unprecedented expansion of the powers of the presidency, "America's Mayor" may be our next chief executive. He is neck and neck with John McCain when Americans are asked their preference for the next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It is alarming to think that the murky dealings and totalitarian tendencies that have marred the current administration could flourish even more under another control-junkie Republican. It is even more frightening to think what a commander in chief who already has a violent record of abusing authority could do with the unrestrained might of a geopolitical superpower. Given Giuliani's historic willingness to take Spanish Inquisition-style action against threats both real and imaginary, is anyone in doubt that it is every American's duty to keep Rudolph Giuliani as far from the White House as possible?

His political career may have been defined by his willingness to confront scary bogeymen, but during slower periods when there were no obvious villains around, Giuliani's interpretations of who or what constituted an immediate threat became increasingly bizarre, personal, puritanical and dangerous. Before the planes hit, when he had too much power and not enough to do, Giuliani, like an old soldier who comes home and starts abusing his family in lieu of a real enemy, was pulling a Great Santini on New York, rooting around in our sock drawers with a Maglite, looking for vices to confiscate and sins to punish. By the mid-'90s, Mayor Rudy was abusing authority according to the whims of his own paranoid, hyper-defensive personality disorder in way that would have made Tiberius self-conscious.

As his second term wound down, New Yorkers knew what Rudy was, and they were sick of it. In 1999, they rejected his caudillo-style attempt to amend the city's (relatively new) term-limit law so he could serve another four years. By May 2000, with crime at historic lows, the city's economy still aglow, real estate prices soaring -- the kind of external factors that normally make politicians untouchable -- his approval rating had slid to a Bush-oid 37 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. In December 2001, when Giuliani finally stepped down -- after trying and failing to exploit his post 9/11 popularity by passing a special law that would've added three months to his reign) -- the New York Times interrupted its elegy for the Rudy years with a sober reminder. "The suppression of dissent," noted the Times, "or of anything that irked the mayor, became a familiar theme."

Rudy's character flaws were evident at the very beginning of his public career. Before he ran for mayor the first time (and lost) in 1989, Giuliani had a shining Tom Dewey-esque reputation as a giant-killing prosecutor. Among the reporters who followed him, he also had a reputation for inflating his own accomplishments and using his power to humiliate people.


His policy of humiliating and intimidating his critics finally extended to his own household. Giuliani could, in fact, have learned something from the wise guys he used to bust about how to keep a mistress without embarrassing the missus. In 2000, the second Mrs. Giuliani, newscaster Donna Hanover, had to obtain a court order to stop him from bringing girlfriend Judith Nathan to Gracie Mansion, where she and Rudy's children were still living. Rudy struck back by announcing his separation to the press before telling his wife. Donna had a press conference outside the mansion in which she accused the mayor of also cheating on her with his former press secretary, Christyne Lategano, though that wasn't news to any of the reporters in attendance. Rudy had the last word. The wife and kids were eventually booted out of said mansion, and Judy Nathan became his third wife.

Oh, what a brief description for such an ugly series of events.

First, what you have to understand is that Giuliani was a serial philanderer before he was married, and that first marriage ended with some really nasty rumors of abuse. The one to his third cousin.

It is said that Donna Hanover won his election in 1993 with her familiarity to the New York viewing public. She was an anchor on the local Tribune station for several years.

Within six months of being elected, he was caught buying Lategano a skirt on Madison Avenue. If you've never been to New York, that's like shopping on Rodeo Drive. Despite the reputation, 5th Avenue is far more egalitarian than Madison Avenue above 59th St. That's where the high end boutiques, Missoni, DKNY, Vera Wang, Jimmy Choo all are. So he had to have dropped a couple of hundred bucks on the spot. Only problem, it made the front page of the Daily News.

But then, for one Father's Day, Hanover, wondering where her husband was, rolled down to City Hall, where she caught him dick deep in Lategano, according to widely acknowledged rumors.

Giuliani was not subtle. He would take Lategano to the Yankees games with his kids. Until the wife had enough of it. Lategano and his wife would not be in the same room again.

Even now, there are pictures of Lategano and Giuliani in restaurants across the city.

Wilson mentions the firing of Bill Bratton, but didn't mention WHY he was fired. Part of the reason was that John Miller, now the FBI's spokesman, was running with Lategano for a marathon. Daddy Giuliani showed up, and didn't like Miller hanging around his woman. Toss on some jealousy, and the skids were greased.

Things got so bad that his best friend, Peter Powers, quit city government over this mess.

Then, of course, there was the time he forced everyone to attend her birthday party, despite her being as popular as a dose of the clap. Lategano was widely hated by the media for her rank incompetence and arrogance. An incident which got a lot of play in the media at the time, without the explaination that Giuliani was screwing her.

But it gets better.

Eventually, Giuliani dumped her from his life. He was taking a break between mistresses. So after a nasty public argument in a local burger joint, she went to South Carolina for a while and quickly married.

But she had to be paid off. So she got an apartment and loyalist Fran Reiter was tossed aside for Lategano, who was given the job of running the city's Tourist and Visitor's Bureau. A job she was totally unqualified for, but which paid $250K a year. People were horrified at the time. But he was the mayor.

Then by 1998, he was picking up with a new mistress, now his wife. He was again unsubtle and would take her to a restaurant a few blocks from the mayoral home. This close enough so his children's friends and their parents could see him with his new woman.

By 2000 things were getting insane. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, which gave people's a minute's pause. Until he took his nurse-mistress with him to the doctor. Then to top it off, he announced his seperation without telling his wife. Which was unseemly at best. But he had been squiring Ms. Nathan around for at least a year, taking her to parades and other public events.

But if you think he disrepsected shooting victims, he didn't know them. He would wage a savage war on his family. His wife had no idea he had prostate cancer because he was taking his mistress, Judith Nathan, to the treatment sessions with the doctor.

The then cardinal, John O'Connor, had tried to do marriage counselling with them, but in the end, Hanover was left humiliated and ignorant about her husband's illness. She had done everything reasonable to keep their marriage together. Her husband, not so much.

Soon after the humiliating split up, broadcast live on local TV, Giuliani's mother grew ill. When Hanover, concerned about the welfare of her children's grandmother, showed up in the emergency room of Mount Sinai hospital, the mayor got into a nasty, public fight with her, restrained only by longtime henchman Tony Carbonetti. Giuliani was enraged that she showed up and demanded she leave, this in a public space filled with ill people.

Then, he wanted to bring his mistress into the family home, by claiming his wife wasn't helping him through his cancer treatments. He wanted to divide the home up.
His argument was that the kids should get to know Ms.Nathan, meanwhile, Ms. Nathan's then 16 year old daughter moved back in with her father becase she couldn't stand

Hanover's media friends were astonshed at his brazen behavior, and soon the tale of woe came out. But it didn't stop Giuliani. Hanover, as Wilson says, had to go to court to declare Gracie Mansion the marital home and exclude her from it.

The judge said no to his cruel, insane request.

Eventually, he moved in with a gay couple while his wife fended off his efforts to replace her.

But like an uncaged animal, Giuliani would strike at his family like they were mortal enemies. First, for mother's day 2000, he would parade the mistress up and down Second Avenue for pictures. So all of his kids friends would be treated to this site as they got the morning paper. His wife and kids were in California, escaping the cruel media circus surrounding their lives. The evilness of the act astonished New Yorkers. How do you ruin mother's day like that?

Ah, but the savage nature of Giuliani knew no bounds. He cut his wife's security detail, he gave one to his mistress. He cut his wife's security detail. Think about that. He felt that she could get by with less. Of course, this placed his kids in danger as well, but nothing was too petty or savage for Giuliani. Nothing.

And in an act of truly petty revenge, he wouldn't let Hanover's father stay in Gracie Mansion, the mayoral home.

He had served on the Intrepid, and they were commemorating the ship's survival from an attack off Okinawa which nearly sank the ship. Now, Giuliani's father was an ex-con racist mob enforcer who ducked the draft, but he couldn't extend this small courtesy to her.

And this was a major even in the city, with the Intrepid now a floating museum. But he showed less compassion to his own family than shooting victims. Less.

Then, of course, his lawyer, Raoul Felder, called her a pig outside court. Before the media. Why? Because she wanted some of that post-9/11 windfall. Now, understand something, New York does not have no fault divorce. You have to have grounds, it can be ugly. And Hanover and her lawyers had the dirt ready to go.

Just short of the part where Hanover would drag his mistresses into court, she had a special hatred for Lategano, Giuliani, flush from recent success, paid her eight million dollars.

I know you could go on about his racist, imperialistic ways, but it was his family where his most cruel and vicious actions were unleashed. It is amazing that he had more contempt for the mother of his children than he did for any politicial opponent, including Al Sharpton.

Which is saying something. He made war on his family like most men make war on enemies.

posted by Steve @ 3:09:00 AM

3:09:00 AM

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