Tuesday, September 14, 2010

GOP puts “Good” Giuliani on display

I’m never sure what to make of Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor whose name occasionally gets tossed about as a presidential hopeful.

My confusion is because I can’t figure out what his own GOP colleagues think of the man. It almost seems like Republicans think of a “good Rudy” and a “bad Rudy” when they talk of him. The two seem to contradict, and there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of logic when it comes to his perception among the public.

SO WHAT REALLY is gained from having Giuliani in Illinois on Monday, making stops in gubernatorial nominee William Brady’s hometown of Bloomington, before then making a Chicago-area appearance on behalf of GOP Senate hopeful Mark Kirk?

It seems like the Republican candidates on Monday were trying to play off the “good Rudy” image, that of the tough crimefighter who supposedly went after some high-profile Wall Street and organized crime types when he was U.S. Attorney, then as mayor of New York made the streets safer for decent people – although there are those who will say Giuliani’s idea of “decent people” was upper-income white people.

Tough on crime. America’s prosecutor. Which is what many of the Republican partisans want to view as a “good” image, even though the rest of us might find Rudy to be a little overbearing at times.

What we didn’t get on Monday was the “bad Rudy” image, at least “bad” if one views life in isolated rural pockets of our nation as the norm. The Rudy who is a life-long New Yorker (from Brooklyn, nonetheless) who actually roots for the Yankees, doesn’t view abortion as a criminal act and has been known on occasion to appear in drag at events where such behavior is totally appropriate (and completely un-sexual).

I COULDN’T HELP but notice that Giuliani’s appearance with Kirk was billed as a discussion between the two men on the problem of streetgangs – with Giuliani set to talk about how he’d like to have an anti-gang task force that would receive federal funds.

Is this an attempt by the GOP types to try to tie in all Democrats to the recent actions of Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis, whom the ideologues want to believe is engaging in negotiations with Chicago’s streetgangs – thereby giving them a sense of legitimacy and recognition.

Of course, that is so far from reality that it is absurd anyone would seriously believe it. But when it comes to partisan politics, truth is often the first factor that gets sacrificed.

Those of us who pay attention know that Weis was trying to deliver a tough message – one that the gang leaders publicly have said they resent. Also, I couldn’t help but notice that the federal prosecutors based in Chicago were also a part of Weis’ recent meetings with gang-type people – which through the pages of the Chicago Sun-Times he defended on Monday.

WHICH MEANS THAT if Giuliani seriously wants to view himself as a federal prosecutor type, you’d think he’d be supportive of what his pseudo-colleagues in Chicago were up to – trying to use the same laws that are used to crack down on organized crime against the streetgangs in hopes that it would reduce the levels of violence in Chicago.

Instead, he’s partaking in partisan political events that will allow Kirk to distinguish his image from the Chicago political establishment. Not that he expects such a move to gain him significant votes among the locals.

It is more a part of the strategy to turn this election cycle into one where Illinois ganged-up on Chicago, where within Cook County the Democratic Party’s candidates will continue to dominate among voters come Nov. 2.

It is the reason why several polls indicate that Kirk’s own seat in the House of Representatives, which he is giving up to run for the U.S. Senate, is likely to go to the Democrats. Dan Seals may finally win a Congressional election on his third try.

INSTEAD, THEY WANT the rest of the state, including those outer suburbs of the Chicago area. If they split between the two parties, then Democrats retain significant control. If they don’t split, then Republicans become influential once again in Illinois after nearly a decade of irrelevance.

Which is why we get “good Rudy” the big, tough prosecutor, playing his role as the nation’s crimefighter on behalf of our local politicians. Perhaps he hopes that Kirk, Brady and every single other politico he stumps on behalf of this year will then return the favor should he decide to go for president again come 2012.

Because he is going to need their significant support in order to overcome the “bad Rudy” image of a guy who’s too urban to understand their lives, and looks a little too comfortable in that dress in order to ever get their vote for president -- even though the rest of us get the joke.


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