A Tale of Two Winters for One-Time Friends and Presidential Rivals
Blue Sunday: John McCain and Rudy Giuliani Are Scripting Entirely Dichotomous Final Acts.
In the early days of the 21st Century, one could argue that the two most prominent Republicans not named George W. Bush were the Senior Senator from Arizona and the mayor of New York City. John McCain reemerged onto the national scene with his “Maverick”-style campaign against Bush – the establishment favorite – for the party’s bitterly contested 2000 presidential nomination. Rudy Giuliani was in the final months of his final term as the Big Apple’s mayor – and often credited with turning the city around from the crime and despair that defined it for a generation – when disaster struck on the morning of September 11, 2001. His leadership was categorized as “Churchillian“, and he won Time‘s “Person of the Year” award for it, being dubbed “America’s Mayor” in the process.
Their paths crossed not long after the tragic events in lower Manhattan when Giuliani’s beloved New York Yankees squared off against McCain’s hometown Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series. The two men were seen by a national audience, seated together and donning their clubs’ respective caps in both the Bronx (at Yankee Stadium, which practically served as Rudy’s second home during his mayorship) and Phoenix during the epic seven-game series (won ultimately and regrettably by McCain’s D-Backs). As the result of a friendly wager, Giuliani even had to provide the city of Phoenix with a horse from the New York Police Department.
As the Bush presidency came to a close 7 years later, both figures found themselves in the spotlight once again. This time they were rivals. McCain looked to rekindle the magic of his upstart 2000 campaign for the nomination, this time with more of an establishment backing. Giuliani, still widely admired for his post-9/11 leadership, was considered a front-runner as the race began. But Hizzoner went on to run one of the most ineffective and incompetent races in the history of presidential politics, and the one time favorite bowed out of the race without capturing a single primary.
He immediately endorsed McCain, who played the long game brilliantly and secured the nomination later that spring before ultimately losing the general election to Barack Obama.
This is the proverbial “Last Call” for both men
And that was the last time these two titans of early century Republican politics were on the same footing as politicians or statesmen.
Both McCain and Giuliani now find themselves in their final act in the spotlight of public service. Senator McCain, as we all know, is in the midst of a brave but exhausting battle with stage 4 brain cancer at the age of 81. The Copper State icon has not been able to return to Washington since surgery and treatment in April. Instead, he’s been welcoming friends and colleagues to his home in Sedona. The next step in the former POW’s journey need not be mentioned, as it’s well understood.
Giuliani, at the age of 74, has in all likelihood taken on his last role in the political arena: defense attorney for the embattled President Donald Trump. Regardless of how the Trump saga ends, it’s nearly impossible to see Giuliani being confirmed for any cabinet-level or federal judiciary position should it be offered by the president. And even if he weren’t north of 70, it would be even harder to imagine Giuliani running for a statewide office in his home state of New York, being so closely tied to a president vehemently disliked in the Empire State. The best he can hope for at this point is another book deal.
This is the proverbial “Last Call” for both men, and the difference in how they’ve approached it could not be any starker.
McCain has resisted Any urges to play in the mud with Trump and his surrogates
McCain has reestablished himself as a Maverick once again. He was the deciding vote in the Senate in Trump’s failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This one-time rival of Obama became the most important person in the preservation of the 44th President’s signature legislative accomplishment. (And his former adversary was quick to reach out and thank him). More poignant than his vote, however, was the reasoning he had laid out on the Senate Floor months prior, as “debate” on repealing the ACA opened, which foreshadowed his “No” vote given the way his party attempted to cut out any input from the Democratic Party. He urged all Americans to demand more from their elected officials, and for Senators to remember their fundamental responsibilities:
“This place is important. The work we do is important. Our strange rules and seemingly eccentric practices that slow our proceedings and insist on our cooperation are important. Our founders envisioned the Senate as the more deliberative, careful body that operates at a greater distance than the other body from the public passions of the hour.
We are an important check on the powers of the Executive. Our consent is necessary for the President to appoint jurists and powerful government officials and in many respects to conduct foreign policy. Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the President’s subordinates. We are his equal!”
In the months since he killed the repeal, McCain has been a target for mockery and scorn not from Democrats whom he has opposed his whole life, but from the party that once nominated him to be their standard bearer. Donald Trump mocked the ailing senator at one of his “campaign” rallies, eliciting rowdy jeers from his rabid base.
White House communications aide Kelly Sadler, with the eloquence and couth that might even make her boss jealous, said of McCain’s opposition to CIA Director Nominee Gina Haspel:
“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.”
Through it all, McCain has resisted any urges to play in the mud with Trump and his surrogates. The Senator remains at home, occasionally tweeting pleasantries and well-wishes, as well as drawing public attention to issues often ignored in the fast-paced and frenetic Trump news cycle.
One would have to have an appalling lack of humanity to not admire how John Sidney McCain has devoted his twilight to restoring dignity and gravitas to an American political system that so desperately needs it.
The last screw left the door plate when Giuliani signed on to be Trump’s personal attorney
And then there’s Rudy Giuliani.
He remained largely out of the public eye for most of the Obama administration. He had a brief flirtation with a New York gubernatorial run in 2010, but spent a majority of the time working in the private sector, making little to no headlines. That, along with his reputation, began to change in 2015, when he made unprovoked and outrageous claims about Obama’s patriotism while at a fundraiser for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, telling donors:
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, 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.”
Giuliani dismissed criticisms that there was a racial component to saying the nation’s first black president doesn’t love America because of the way he was brought up by saying it wasn’t racist because Obama was “brought up by a white mother.”
And things only spiraled out of control from there. We next saw Rudy a year later, speaking on behalf of Candidate Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Or should we say screaming? Giuliani delivered an unhinged address littered with Islamaphobia, all but accusing Obama and Hillary Clinton of being card-carrying members of the Islamic State themselves. But he apparently had one hinge hanging on in August of 2016, because the last screw left the door plate when he signed on to be Trump’s personal attorney.
Since accepting his most recent job, he’s gone on a bizarre media tour – primarily on Fox News – where we’ve seen him:
- Confirm not only that Trump was aware his attorney, Michael Cohen, paid $130,000 in hush-money to adult film star Stormy Daniels to conceal an affair, but that Trump also reimbursed Cohen.
- State that it was typical of Cohen to handle these types of situations and alleged that there may be other women who were paid by Trump for their silence.
- Admit that the payment was “funneled” through Cohen’s law firm.
- Suggest that Trump may plead the Fifth Amendment if interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
- Admit that he’s attempting to make the case to the American people that Trump should not be impeached.
- Deny that erratic behavior was the result of a drinking problem.
Reaction to Giuliani’s television blitz has been near unanimous: he’s embarrassing himself. His public perception has been decimated to the point where he was roundly booed at Yankee Stadium, where he once served as an unofficial mascot. But the saddest part of this twisted equation came on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend where the former mayor admitted that his strategy is to erode the public’s trust in Mueller’s investigation.
The Mueller investigation, as we all know by now, was started because a hostile nation interfered with and attacked the primary pillar of our democracy: our free and open elections. Mueller was appointed because unlike Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he had no ties to the White House or the campaign to get Trump to that point. Rudy Giuliani, former District Attorney. The Mayor who got tough on crime in the dangerous streets of New York. That perception is now as laughable as his old combover was. Mr. Law and Order is leading the charge to debase our highest levels of law enforcement.
John McCain is spending his final days desperately trying to repair a crumbling but critical institution – the United States Senate. Meanwhile, Giuliani is making the most of his last hurrah trying to tear down a fundamental principle that has kept our Republic intact for 240 years – the rule of law.
It’s hard to fathom that these two men shared a debate stage once upon a time, let alone a baseball stadium.
Now That You Mention It…
•The social media responses in support of disgraced and fired comedian Roseanne Barr are really uplifting but I have one question for the defenders: Do you find that it’s more difficult to get your crosses lit in higher humidity?
•Here’s the thing about selective outrage: you have to make sure your own house is clean. For example, I’ve never called a person of color an ape, nor have I found it amusing. If you never called Hillary the C-Word, and you never laughed at someone who said it or nodded in agreement when you read it, then congratulations. Thump your shoe on the podium and demand Samantha Bee is fired.
But if you have, kindly shut up and go away. Like the President, for example.
— MKG Copley (@MKG21cle) June 1, 2018
•Trump’s silly trade war is expected to raise the price of beer. For real. Now it’s personal, asshole.
•If you ever wondered why Democrats can’t get out of their own way, look no further than my home state of New Jersey. We’re on the verge of a government shutdown. Because the Democratic governor and Democratic legislature both want to raise taxes on high earners and increase school funding. But they can’t agree on how.
•Congratulations to the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Class of 2018. Your grace and courage serve as an inspiration to tens of millions of Americans. We can’t wait for you to get out into the world and make a difference!
What Won Twitter This Week?
Hey did you hear? When you put something out there on the internet, it’s there forever!
Happy 6 year anniversary to this tweet https://t.co/siTb4lvHyc
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) May 30, 2018
Pun intended: I will never get tired of these Ambien-made-her-racist jokes…
Remember when Trump’s father was arrested at an Ambien rally?
— Jess Dweck (@TheDweck) May 30, 2018
Just because you repeat it often doesn’t make it true…
President @realDonaldTrump: NO. Mexico will NEVER pay for a wall. Not now, not ever.
Sincerely, Mexico (all of us).
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) May 30, 2018
As I was saying…
People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.
— Sanofi US (@SanofiUS) May 30, 2018
Songs Of Freedom
Building the ultimate #Resistance playlist, one week at a time. I’m always up for discovering unheralded protest songs, if you have a recommendation, I’d love to hear it!
Hey, I can spend years adding classic rock protest tunes to this playlist, but it should be as diverse as America itself in every way. So what better way to expand its horizons than adding Zolita’s epic 2017 response to Trump’s misogynistic platform?
And here’s what we got so far…
Till next Sunday, my friends!