Among the figures in the running to be President-elect Donald Trump’s Secretary of State is former Mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani and, if one were to believe recent media reports, it appears he is in the lead for the job. Though Giuliani has managed to sustain a public presence built on his legacy as America’s Mayor — a role that came to fore amid the aftermath of the September 11th attacks and one he has repeatedly squandered over the course of his post-mayoralty — his disqualifying legal and consulting career and his increasingly ill-tempered flagrancy is cause for consternation and reproach. He is an ill-suited candidate for Secretary of State.
Through his lobbying firm, Giuliani Partners LLC — a security consulting firm characterized by media outlets as nothing more than “a lobbying entity capitalizing on Giuliani’s name recognition” — Giuliani has contracted with Qatar’s Ministry of the Interior, the functional arm of a state that traffics in appalling human rights abuses, namely the forced labor of hundreds of thousands of mostly South Asian migrant workers. He has lobbied, or, rather, consulted on behalf of former associates of the late President of Serbia Slobodan Milošević, a war criminal accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, among other charges. Perhaps most infamously, he has spoken in support of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), a nominally Marxist-Islamist organization whose allegiances are at times unclear and, moreover, was considered a terrorist organization by the United States and Canada until 2012. These instances, among many others, present moral foreclosures, conflicts of interests that highlight desires at odds with the interests of the American people.
Throughout his career, and increasingly so, Giuliani has effused a vindictive”tough guy” approach to business that is not only diametrical to the behavior of any good diplomat, but, as Radley Balko of the Washington Post puts it, “vindictive and authoritarian”. Loud, foul-mouthed, and rude, Rudy Giuliani embodies among the worst stereotypes of the baby-booming Manhattanite. Over just the past two years: he has accused President Obama of being un-American for no good reason whatsoever, he has claimed dubious, possibly illegal ties to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he has called demonstrators exercising their constitutional right to assembly “spoiled crybabies”. He has even been accused of inciting a “riot of racist cops” in 1992. The behavior exhibited by the former mayor is abusive at best and demagogic at worst. It is certainly not befitting of America’s senior diplomat, one who must work constructively with others to guide intercourse, cultivate consensus, while securely maintaining interests.
For fifteen minutes this past June, Giuliani gave a speech now known, for better or for worse, as “the America speech”, during which he at times appeared totally unhinged, divorced from a complex reality at which he chafes. The speech and its performance are emblematic of Giuliani’s most persistent and dangerous problems: his inability to maintain composure, his distaste for tact, and his flagrant dishonesty. At the time, I had believed the America Giuliani invoked to be a mere fantasy, at most composed of a shrinking electorate embodying an atavistic, leveling impulse. I now know I am wrong. And one can only hope Donald Trump thinks bigly before making his next move.