When I saw that Salon had published a Cintra Wilson article on Rudy Giuliani, I knew there'd be some dead-on character analysis:
...Before the planes hit [on 9/11], 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....
But I wasn't expecting Wilson to provide real detail -- more than in any recent article by the legend-printers of the political press corps. In addition to the usual stories (Bernie Kerik, the ugly marital history), there's this from Wilson on Giuliani's second and most notorious police commissioner -- not Kerik (he was #3), but Howard Safir:
Safir's NYPD beefed up the Street Crime Unit, a corps of hyper-macho officers once described by the Village Voice's Nat Hentoff as "a rogue police operation whose members make Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry look like Mahatma Gandhi." They were given leeway to enact "stop-and-frisks" of ordinary citizens -- supposedly to discourage them from carrying guns. While Safir's office implemented easier arrestee processing methods, New York's nonwhite citizens became increasingly alarmed by a police force they perceived as hostile, overzealous and racist. Go figure: members of the Street Crime Unit, Hentoff reported, delighted in wearing T-shirts emblazoned with such intimidating slogans as "We Own the Night!" and the Hemingway quote, "There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and like it never care for anything else." ...
(It was in the Giuliani/Safir years that Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond were killed and Abner Louima was the victim of forced instrumental sodomy in a precinct-house toilet.)
And here's Wilson on Giuliani the petty authoritarian:
Giuliani called his critics jerks, Marxists and fuzzy-headed liberals. He accused them of having psychological problems. He denigrated and gay-baited schools chancellor Ramon Cortines, calling him "precious" and a "little victim."
In 1997 a man named James Schillaci, who took a videotape exposing the existence of an NYPD speed trap in the Bronx, was crushed like a bug. After Schillaci took his evidence to the New York Daily News, the NYPD went to his apartment and hauled him off to jail for unpaid traffic tickets....
To jail. For traffic tickets.
... nearly 70,000 people filed lawsuits against the New York Police Department during Giuliani's two terms as mayor, claiming they were strip-searched for offenses as minor as jaywalking.
This is why Giuliani is scary and this is why Giuliani can win. He can win, unless I'm wrong, because voters from the GOP's base are sensing this nasty aspect of Giuliani's personality and responding instinctively and positively, as they do to Bully Boy Bush. (Meanwhile, the rest of the country seems to have swallowed the myth that Rudy is a nothing more than a charismatic, passionate centrist who fights only bad guys.) This is the authoritarian who may outdo Bush and Cheney; the swing voters don't know, but the wingnuts understand.
(And I should add that the press may really respond to him as well. Allegedly liberal New York reporters loved him for most of his eight years. I think their hearts were aflutter in response to his authoritarianism -- just the same response we see in the national media to Bush, even now.)