Giuliani review by Andrew Kirtzman – from hero to Trump lackey | Biography books

Bbrilliant demagogues such as Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have made politics the last and most dangerously alive of performing arts. The state is now a stage, and those who strut about it and don’t care think that power is a license for self-indulgence. Rudy Giuliani’s managerial style when he was mayor of New York showed the way: as Andrew Kirtzman puts it in his biography, Giuliani replaced careful governance with “over-the-top drama” and enjoyed “exploding things” dramatically. Kirtzman’s phrase knowingly anticipates the scenario of 9/11, when al-Qaeda agents overthrew the World Trade Center: angry and incendiary, Giuliani, on his small scale, reigned by terror.

Chronicling Giuliani’s “tragic rise and fall,” Kirtzman singles out the “hero’s tale” that once exalted a man who these days seems so mentally foggy and physically crummy. His leadership on 9/11 made Giuliani look “godly”; a venerable New Yorker upped the ante by gasping “He’s God!”. He became known as “America’s Mayor”, a stalwart guardian envied by communities around the world, and in a world victory lap he received an honorary knighthood from the Queen. Off duty, he traded glory for pomp: after the inauguration at Buckingham Palace, he chatted with Simon Cowell and Andrew Lloyd Webber in Richard Branson’s Babylonian roof-garden restaurant.

Did Giuliani deserve such recognition for his efforts on 9/11? His emergency command post – an eagle’s nest with 50,000 square feet of TV monitors, plus a sofa bed for relaxing naps – proved useless since he had insisted on placing it high in the room. one of the targeted towers; further, Kirtzman notes that the rescue efforts failed because Giuliani’s administration had equipped the firefighters with high-priced radios that did not work. Escaping blame for his mistakes, he unsuccessfully plotted “to remain in office past the required end of his term” – a repeat of his later plots to save the presidency from Trump. He then monetized his fame by signing on as a fixer for a host of foreign thugs, crooks and oligarchs who, as Kirtzman remarks, looked like a roundup of Bond villains.

The biography peaks when it examines the lifelong synergy between Trump and Giuliani. We now see him as Trump’s lick, but the balance of power once favored Giuliani, whose antics at City Hall — twisting facts, flouting legal restraints, threatening reporters — have been emulated by Trump. in the Oval Office. At a vaudevillian charity dinner in New York in 2000, Giuliani appeared on film in the pink-dressed, blonde-wigged character of a drag queen named Rudia. Trump showered the vampire with enthusiastic compliments and poked his nose into her prosthetic cleavage; Rudia, offended, shouted “Oh, you dirty boy!” and slapped her cheeky face.

In 2008, when Giuliani’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination failed in hurtful fashion, the seesaw tipped the other way. Morose and dizzy from alcohol, he hid at Mar-a-Lago under Trump’s protection. He repaid the favor in 2016 by volunteering to mop up the mess left by Trump’s bragging about grabbing starlets’ “pussies”; after a day of beleaguered interviews, his reward was Trump grumbling, “Man, Rudy, you suck.” In 2020, Giuliani made it his mission to challenge Biden’s election victory, once ranting sweatily on camera as inky dye seeped from his hair and made him look like melting wax from a ghoul. As he discovered, political and personal relationships are S&M games for Trump, who enjoys demeaning and then dismissing his cronies. Giuliani was denied the cabinet job he dreamed of, and his $20,000-a-day fee for time spent investigating non-existent voter fraud went unpaid; in exchange for his shyness, he lost his license to practice law in New York and is under criminal investigation in Georgia.

Though Kirtzman insists on the youthful self-righteousness that made Giuliani vacillate between careers as a Catholic priest and a prosecutor, this moral bigot emerged from Brooklyn in his darkest, most subterranean form. His father was once arrested for loitering with immoral intent in a public restroom, and when cops asked him why he was kneeling, he said he was practicing deep bends to relieve his constipation – a quick thought , worthy of a Jesuit or a casuistry lawyer! Giuliani Sr aspired to be a boxer, but was disqualified from the ring because he blinked and squinted through thick specs; instead, he made a living as a burglar and was imprisoned for armed robbery. He also acted as an executor for his brother’s “extensive loan and gambling operation”, settling debts using a baseball bat. Rudy kindly insists that his father “taught him his most valuable lessons,” and he honors that legacy by keeping a baseball bat under the bed in each of his dearly secured homes. Is he preparing to fend off intruders or does he just want to crack some skulls?

Giuliani sweats during a press conference on the result of the 2020 presidential election in November 2020. Photography: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Tragic heroes have the good grace to die upon hitting the ground, but Giuliani remains comically indestructible, impervious to shame. In 2020, he was tricked by Sacha Baron Cohen, who lured him into a date with an accomplice posing as Borat’s attractive teenage daughter and secretly filmed him lying on a hotel bed, his hand thrust into his pants in order – as he demanded – to tuck in his shirt. Last year, Giuliani disgusted customers at an airport restaurant by shaving at his table, seasoning a bowl of lobster bisque and a plate of brownies with his stubble. First he lost his moral bearings, after which he lost his sense of decency and decorum.

Kirtzman begins by looking at the “lightning trajectory” of a “brilliant man”. Giuliani’s third wife, watching him stagger with a cigar in one hand and a scotch in the other, takes a lower view. “He was crap,” she shrugs after witnessing an embarrassing fall. “He went down.” Rather than tragically fall from a dizzying height, Giuliani simply crumbled, succumbing to his lust for money and fame while using the rusty remains of his legal skills to justify the wrongdoings. Sinister notoriety is what we expect or even demand of these public figures: they may corrupt and chaotically destroy our world, but aren’t we entertained?

Giuliani: The tragic rise and fall of America’s mayor by Andrew Kirtzman is published by Simon & Schuster (£20). To support the Guardian and Observer, order your copy at Delivery charges may apply

Colin L. Johnson