Tuesday, November 13, 2007

No Whitewater for Giuliani

Is the 9/11 sainthood of America's Mayor too radioactive for opponents to attack?

A headline in today's Washington Post says, "Giuliani Campaign Tries to Minimize Fallout From Kerik Indictment" but so far other Republican Presidential candidates have tiptoed around the subject. As contrast, imagine the reaction if Kerik had been one of Hillary Clinton's closest associates.

"Mitt Romney," the Post reports, "declined to comment on whether Kerik's legal woes might pose a political problem for Giuliani, but he called Kerik's indictment on tax fraud and other charges 'very sad and disappointing.'"

John McCain had former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge at his side when he alluded to Kerik. "Supposedly his mission was to help train Iraqi police. He stayed a couple of months, got up and left," McCain said. "That should have been part of anybody's judgment before they would recommend that individual to be head of the Department of Homeland Security."

Only his campaign manager went any further. "A president's judgment matters," he said in a memo, "and Rudy Giuliani has repeatedly placed personal loyalty over regard for the facts."

Even this tame criticism brought a reaction from Giuliani. “I'd be very surprised if John did that,” he said. “John is a very good friend. I probably have about 20 quotes from John since all of this became public...[describing] me as a hero.” He claimed that not vetting Kerik carefully enough was a "mistake."

Giuliani is talking about the former bodyguard and driver he appointed as Police Commissioner despite reports of mob links and over the objection of half his Mayoral Cabinet in 2000, kept at his side on 9/11 and afterward made a partner of his consulting firm with the slogan of "Integrity, Optimism, Courage, Preparedness, Communication, Accountability."

Giuliani is also the godfather of two of Kerik's children.

In "Leadership," the best-selling book the former mayor wrote in 2002, there is a chapter titled "Surround Yourself With Great People." If there is a sequel, it will have to include advice on "How to Dump and Distance Yourself From Great People Who Have Been Indicted for Corruption."

So far Giuliani has been masterful at that aspect of 21st century leadership.

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