Political leaders are often defined by their ability to provide that leadership at times of the greatest despair and suffering, showing an ability to stand tall and give reassurance, to let their people know that there is someone looking out for them. Terrorist attacks have provided memorable examples of this: Ken Livingstone after the 7/7 attacks on London, and especially Rudy Giuliani in the aftermath of 9/11.
And now we have another grim parallel: both men have now squandered their good reputations, Livingstone with his blundering interventions during the row over alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, and Giuliani, who has, in his blinkered desire to disrespect Barack Obama and promote Donald Trump, managed to forget the horrific attacks that defined his tenure of the New York City Mayoralty.
Such is the desperate nature of the 2016 Presidential election campaign that many in and around the Republican Party are distancing themselves from Trump, whose increasingly wayward behaviour and inability to tell the difference between the small sub-set of the electorate who fetch up at his rallies and his miserably bad showings in all kinds of opinion polls is risking down-ballot disaster for many in Congress, and even the Senate.
But Giuliani is sticking with the GOP’s Presidential nominee. Moreover, he is talking up the era of Dubya Bush, and it is here where he came badly unstuck when he told recently that “Under those eight years, before Obama, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attacks inside the US”. How, then would he categorise 9/11, given that it was the calling card of al-Qa’eda? Was that not sufficiently “radical Islamic” for him?
ABC News noted “Just seconds before that comment, Giuliani referred to the attacks twice while touting Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence’s foreign affairs experience and recalling a trip Pence made to lower Manhattan as a congressman in the aftermath of the attack … ‘[Pence was] a member of the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committee during the time of Sept. 11, when we went through the worst foreign attack in our history since the War of 1812,’ Giuliani said”. And it got worse.
The Los Angeles Times reminded its readers “Giuliani's claim, of course, ignores the Sept 11 attacks and was especially notable because he was mayor of New York at the time, a position that has formed a pillar of his public identity since then”. And the New York Daily News, no fan of Trump and those who support him, was dismissive.
“You might want to get that bump on your head checked, Rudy … Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Monday appeared to forget about the worst terror attack in U.S. history, claiming that there simply had been no such assaults inside America during the presidency of George W. Bush … Giuliani’s 9/11 slight … didn’t go unnoticed by outraged survivors of the devastating attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and wounded more than 6,000 others”. Someone is going to have a lot of explaining to do.
Trump’s electoral meltdown might just consume reputations other than his own.