Sunday, August 13, 2006


My friend Max Becker-Pos recently sent me a care package from Japan (thanks again, Max!) that included the book Leadership by the former mayor of New York City, Rudy* Giuliani. I've only just started the book, but already find it interesting. The book is laid out in clear outline form, and proceeds logically as it explores a list of leaderly qualities.

Giuliani notes early on that a good leader in a crisis will (1) see things with his own eyes and (2) set an example. It was therefore inevitable that he would zip right to Ground Zero on September 11, where he saw for himself the horror of people jumping out of the Towers. He found a spot near Ground Zero and set up his command center, and on that first day it was Go Time from beginning to end. Most of the nation was deeply impressed by this.

Although I've barely begun the book, I'm already beginning to compare what Giuliani says to how our current president leads. While I won't demonize George Bush the way half the country has, I can't see that Bush has been the most competent leader in a crisis.

I've already mentioned that I'd vote for Giuliani if he were to run for president. Rudy seems to be positioning himself for such a run. While I assume Rudy would be little different from other politicians in terms of campaign rhetoric-- he'd have to please his voter base, after all-- I imagine he'd be a far more centrist and less polarizing politician than Bush has been. During his two terms as mayor, Giuliani worked closely with Democrats. He was also fiscally conservative and skillfully managed the complex economy of an enormous city. That sort of balance is hard for any politician to strike, I think.

The Republicans would do well to take a Giuliani candidacy seriously, especially if they're hoping to front a candidate with wide appeal. Competent crisis leadership, skill at consensus-building, a roll-up-our-sleeves style, fiscal conservatism, and lawyerly articulateness-- these factors all add up. I might quibble about some of Giuliani's mayoral decisions (especially with regard to public morality), but all in all, I think he's a stand-up fellow.

And then there's this:

Wouldn't it be poetic justice for the mayor of the city those bastards attacked to become the leader of the free world?

It's enough to make me hope that "Giuliani" is a swear word in Arabic. Heh.

*I'd been misspelling his nickname as Rudi.


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