WEIGHT CLASS

Rudy Giuliani’s Raging Bull

The mayor’s Obama comments and sad fall from grace are reminiscent of another New Yorker who held onto the spotlight for too long.

02.22.15 11:23 PM ET

So here we are at the start of a week after the country witnessed Rudy Giuliani doing a backstroke through the gutter of American politics. Apparently desperate for attention, the former mayor of New York jumped out of his seat at a gathering of wealthy Republicans who had assembled at the 21 Club in Manhattan in order to do a loud, please notice me, clown act.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say,” Giuliani began his wrecking ball speech, “but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country.”

(Let’s pause right here in this off-the-cliff assault by the former mayor to remind everyone of something Obama’s loudest critics always insist is the case: This is not about race because it’s never about race when it comes to nut-boys attacking the President of the United States. Sure!)

“Going after patriotism is one thing,” Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary, was saying, “but the really, really bad stuff is, ‘He wasn’t raised the way you and I were.’ There’s only one connotation for that kind of stuff and that’s directly out of what some people were saying in the Alabama of the 1960s.”

From mid-morning September 11, 2001, and for many days to follow Giuliani was an admirable figure. He provided his city and his country with a wall of courage, resolve and determination to stand straight and move forward through the shock, the death and the ashes of what terror had done to America’s most visible city.

He behaved nobly. Attended hundreds of funerals for the fallen. Stood like a sentry, a permanent reminder in those awful days of that awful Fall that America would not–could not–be defeated by a cult of religious zealots who prayed for the death and demise of the United States.

Now, all these years later, he has evolved into a pathetic, political version of Jake La Motta.

La Motta, another New Yorker out of an earlier time, was “The Raging Bull” who fought his way to the world middleweight championship. He lost his middleweight title to Sugar Ray Robinson in 1951 after one of the great prize fights of all time.

So La Motta decided to jump up one division in the hope of greater success. He joined the light heavyweight ranks. He was out of his league, out of his class and, soon, out of the ring completely.

But he loved the lights, the publicity, the attention, the fleeting fame that still surrounded him in New York. With some of the money he made with his fists, he bought a couple bars and ended up entertaining friends at bar-side and acting as both owner and bouncer too.

Punch drunk and clinging to a sad celebrity, he tried to be a stand-up comic but his act was sad, stale, and simply not funny. He was married seven times. He was a grifter, his best days all in history’s rear-view mirror.

Now, in this corner, wearing completely contemptible trunks, from the village of his own mind and memory, we have Rudy Giuliani wallowing in a bucket of resentment. He too is out of his league, punching way above his class.

In the other corner, we have the President of the United States, who emerged in the big ring on the evening of July 27, 2004. Then, Obama had been chosen to give the keynote address to the Democratic National Convention held in Boston.

“Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, “ Obama told the crowd, “America, that’s shown as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before him.”

“…My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared am abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or ‘blessed,’ believing that in a tolerant America, your name is no barrier to success.”

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“…I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.”

Four years later he won the presidency and four years after that he was re-elected President of the United States. His judge will be history. The verdict of his daily fight against constant opponents named global terror, fear, economic inequality, global warming, inequitable tax codes, inadequate health care, an incompetent Congress and a claque of politicians determined to destroy rather than simply defeat him will be rendered on some day down the road.

The clock on Rudy Giuliani’s end of days began ticking as soon as he walked out of City Hall. He ran for president once, his candidacy going up in flames nearly the moment he first opened his mouth. Now he’s opened it again and all that emerges is bitterness and a contempt that borders on hate. What a brutal end; a self-inflicted TKO.