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Jewish World Review May 8, 2000/ 3 Iyar, 5760


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A Brief Cancer Honeymoon:
The Media Resumes Its War Against Giuliani -- HERE'S AN OXYMORON for your consideration: the compassionate journalist. While most of the local and national media were shedding crocodile tears last week after Rudy Giuliani's announcement of his (perhaps) nascent prostate cancer, Terry Golway, in his May 8 New York Observer "Wise Guys" column, had a different take.

Attacking pundits who "were gripped with the fear that this long-discussed Senate race might become less important, resulting in fewer gasbag opportunities on MSNBC," Golway wondered about the Mayor's two children and how they're reacting to such frightening news about their father.

Golway wrote, in a piece slamming his colleagues for treating Giuliani like "another piece of electoral meat," that reporters might consider political questions at this juncture to be inappropriate. Golway: "Searching for the slightest bit of humanity from those who dwell in the small, insular world of local politics may, in fact, be a mission suited only for the likes of Ponce de Leon."

Call Terry Golway, if you will, Seņor Ponce. His deadline was this past Tuesday, so he didn't even have knowledge of Thursday's orgy of speculation in the Post, Daily News and New York Times about Giuliani's "good friend," a woman he's been seen lunching with recently. The Daily News owned the "other woman" story on Thursday. In addition to the "news" stories, both Jim Dwyer (gently) and Michael Kramer (crassly) wrote columns on the subject. Dwyer said, contemplating the division of public and private for elected officials: "Everything the mayor said yesterday is true. The woman is a private citizen, befriended by a man who defines himself as a public citizen. Now, surrounded by a whole city, he has found a very good friend."

Kramer, on the other hand, tried to put two and two together, and, as usual, came up with five. As in he had nothing worthwhile to say. His lead: "Last week, the mayor had cancer. This week, he also has a girlfriend. You can't make this stuff up. And you still can't definitively answer the same questions: What does it all mean for Mayor Giuliani's political future, for Hillary Rodham Clinton and for those who might run against the First Lady if the mayor bows out?"

Frankly, I don't give a hoot about the alleged gal pal. This isn't a Monica Lewinsky situation, at least yet: there's no evidence that the "East Side mom" was engaged in any kind of cover-up or offered a job by a Vernon Jordan --- or Bill Richardson-type character. And she is more than 21 years old. Also, Giuliani was fairly forthright about the "relationship," saying it existed -- in what form he left to the imagination -- and didn't lie to the press corps, unlike Mr. Lame Duck in Washington, who's apparently enjoying an inexplicable wave of nostalgia among Beltway talking heads and columnists.

It took a May 3 Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by Paul Johnson, an Englishman, to sum up what's really significant about Giuliani's tenure as mayor and the respect he's accumulated from denizens of other cities.

The historian Johnson wrote, on the eve of London's first mayoral election: "Londoners have heard all about the success of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Word is he has made the streets of Gotham safe again, turned the subway system back into a reliable form of transportation, and generally rendered the city a splendid place for both business and pleasure. Londoners wish a similar administration could do the same in their city. In its 2,000-year history, the capital of Britain has seldom been so discontented. Burglaries are far more common than in New York, and, except for insurance purposes, most people no longer bother to report them, so faint is their belief that the police will catch the intruder and recover the property... So what Londoners need is a Giuliani of their own."

Mugger says Rudy's not running!
As I wrote several days ago, I don't believe Giuliani will ultimately run against Hillary Clinton. When he announced the detection of his cancer, the Mayor was undoubtedly in shock and operating on pure adrenaline. Being a politician, he instinctively craves attention, so it's no surprise that he left open the question as to whether he'd contest Clinton for Pat Moynihan's seat. I think it was a combination of bravado and mischiefmaking: he didn't want to telegraph anything to the despicable First Lady. However, the reality is that any form of cancer, whatever stage it's in, requires full concentration on the patient's part, and to run a grueling campaign, the most-watched match in the country aside from the presidential election, would be a severe strain on his nervous system. Maybe Giuliani is the superman he likes to project, but I doubt it.

Not surprisingly, I can't stand the farce of Hillary Clinton representing New York. What a blot on the most important state in the country. Gives me the willies. A Republican friend of mine said the other day, hoping that Giuliani does run: "Hillary made her usual ugly mistake, even turning [Giuliani's] trauma into politics when in her statement she began with the words, 'Like all New Yorkers...' What a cold little monster to use his pain for her gain."

Since I do believe that Giuliani will bow out-on Wednesday night's Hardball, a "town meeting" held at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Mayor was very calm and seemed to be laying groundwork for a gubernatorial rather than Senate run-I wonder, who are the GOP alternatives? Gov. Pataki's a lazy doofus and he'd probably blow an election he could win with some effort; Rep. Rick Lazio is an oily opportunist who'd figure out a way to lose; the less said about turncoat Rep. Pete King the better.

Which leaves me with Buffalo's Rep. Jack Quinn, a moderate Republican elected to the House in '92 who withstood intense White House pressure and voted to impeach President Clinton in 1998. He took a huge political hit at the time. I don't care for Quinn's closeness to Big Labor, but on the matter of impeachment he voted his conscience, despite constant arm-twisting to do otherwise. There's no question he'd be preferable to Hillary Clinton.

In the end, my wager is that the Mayor, by the end of the month, will bow out of the Senate contest and concentrate on his health.

JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press ( Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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© 2000, Russ Smith