Gained fame as a prosecutor in the Ronald Reagan years, playing RICO like a violin in the War on Drugs. Now NYC mayor, soon to run for the US Senate seat held by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Rudy was what once was called a Liberal Republican, but ambition turns him into whatever kind of Republican gets elected. His wife works for Rupert Murdoch's Fox TV; when Rudy shills for Rupe - e.g. all-but-forcing cable companies to carry Fox News Channel - you think he's on the payroll too.

His epitaph is supposed to be something like "he made New York safe", or some such thing, but hadn't the crime rate already been dropping during the latter part of David Dinkins' term? Hasn't the crime rate been dropping nationwide? One could just as easily attribute the "safe streets" of NYC to Bill Clinton. But those streets weren't so safe for Amadou Diallo, an unarmed man gunned down by police on Wheeler Avenue, a street where I once lived (there but for the grace of God go I), and police custody wasn't such an uplifting experience for Abner Louima, who was anally raped by a cop brandishing a broomstick handle. The city's "Fear City" moniker, dating back to the days of Abe Beame's administration, can now apply to scary authority figures and Gracie Mansion as much as to scary miscreants.

I'll remember Rudy for those incidents of roid-rage-enhanced cops, and his mock trolling-for-potential-votes tantrums over Chris Ofili and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, including his willingness to trample on the museum's rights in order to win a few votes in the Senate race; his willingness to trample on human rights is no small thing either.

If you like New York as an authoritarian theme park, you'll like Rudy. If you're rich or a tourist, you get to experience the theme park side, the Disneyficated side of the city; if you're not, then there's always the chance that, someday, sometime, you'll make a wrong turn and find yourself in Fear City. We'll see what kind of mandate he has when he fails to carry NYC in his election battle with Hillary Clinton; the presence of a celebrity in the race, rather than the milquetoast Dinkins, should galvanize a sufficient number of voters to actually show up this time around. And then there are those who, having voted for him before, will never do so again.

It is now many months later...

Prostate cancer, surgery, and ongoing treatment. Rudy drops out of the Senate race. Rick Lazio, a much-younger, less-savvy version of corporate-interests toady, became the GOP candidate. Hillary wins fairly handily, and becomes the junior senator from New York.

There was, around the same time as the announcement of the illness, the hiring of Raoul Felder, the undisputed heavyweight champeen of celebrity divorce lawyers, to handle the semi-public split between Rudy and Donna Hanover-Giuliani. And the very-public display of Ms. Judy Nathan as Hizzoner's Main Squeeze. Each little front-pages tidbit provided a day or two of talking points for the citizens, but most folks have shrugged it off, just as in the days when he and trusted aide Cristyne Lategano were a long-rumored item. In general, the shrugging-off was not unlike the "times is good -- who cares?" reaction to the infidelities (real or imagined) circling Mr. Hillary. The Giuliani divorce, despite the efforts of Felder, will be an expensive one, for the mayor stands to make beaucoup buckage as an ex-mayor... (In my mind's eye, I see some publishing subsidiary of Rupe's NewsCorp cutting the hefty, hefty check for the Giuliani Memoirs -- and handing it straight to Donna.)

...and an ex-mayor Rudy will soon be (as I write this, September 8, 2001), for, in my many-years absence from NYC, term limits became law here; I'd bungled a different writeup by mentioning Rudy's nicing-up to the peoples, in hopes of a third term. Now a couple of mayoral candidates, one major, one minor, have campaigned as if they're running for Rudy's third term -- billionaire Michael Bloomberg and thousandaire Bernhard Goetz, respectively. Regardless of who wins among the media-and-money-anointed "major" candidates, we may indeed be facing more-of-the-same for the next four years. (I wait in vain for the ghosts of John Lindsay and Fiorello LaGuardia to return and jointly govern this fair city). And the real estate tycoons, and their guests and collaborators and beneficiaries, raise their glasses high, in countless offices and whorehouses penthouses, from the East Side, to the West Side, to sundry parts of Lower Manhattan...

Feh. Rudy, the oft-genial trojan horse for that army, will be gone soon. I'll actually miss him, and I wish him a full recovery from his prostate cancer.

"It turns out that there are times when a paranoid control freak is just what the occasion calls for, and Sept. 11 was one of those." -- Calvin Trillin, 2002

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