OFF THE GRID

Is This, Finally, the End of Rudy Giuliani?

Dec 23, 09 | 8:06 AM   byMichael Wolff
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It certainly feels like we dodged another bullet, Rudy deciding not to run for governor or for senator.

But it seems suspicious, too. Why would he huff and puff about his designs, first on the governor’s race and then on the Senate seat, and then, with a whimper, shrug his shoulders and withdraw?

What’s up his sleeve?

Is this a feint? A brand-building exercise? A reflexive bid for attention? Just more incomprehensible and nutty Rudy stuff?

Certainly the man has always done a bizarre amount of thinking out loud. So what we may have here is an inside glimpse at the ambivalence of ambition. He wants it, he dreams about it, or, anyway, believes he should want it and is a little haunted by it, but, in the end, it’s a lot of work. And, even for Rudy, who’s always prided himself on giving more than he gets, it’s got to be tough to think about taking another public pummeling.

Still, it’s almost impossible to imagine him being done, that now, at 65, he’s preparing for elder statesman status or even retirement. Floating himself the way he’s been doing is, reasonably, a way to reassure himself that it’s not over. He could do it if he wanted. He could! He’s still in play. He’s still the killer name. Just the whisper of it changes everybody else’s plans. The president virtually fired the sitting governor of New York because the White House got scared about Rudy running. Right?

Then, too, reporters just call him up. It’s actually one of the more enjoyable parts of his pretty boring day, the gossip. The gossip he likes most is the gossip about himself. He has a long habit of stoking his own gossip so that it comes back to him. He lets it drop that he’s going to run so then people call him up to ask him if he’s going to run—at which point he equivocates, demurs, and debates out loud.

And, of course, he’s an egomaniac, often quite divorced from reality. He really believes that he can get elected to whatever job he wants. The fact that he is widely reviled by even the people who are supposed to like him, that almost everybody thinks he has a loose screw, that he has no organization, or, really, organizational abilities, that he’s tainted by just about everything a politician can be tainted by without being the subject of outright scandal or indictment, is never top of mind with Rudy.

Curiously, though, the media continues to regard the Rudy story as a real story. The media sees the world through his eyes. Rudy, however implausibly—at least until that irksome second round of attention—remains a figure of inevitability and great stature.

He is perhaps smart enough, or instinctive enough, to know that he can get a little of that feeling again, sense the shiver of Rudy excitement and historical aura, if he puts his toe in and pulls it out very fast. A few headlines are all he needs to remind himself who he might have been, who he briefly was.

Then, too, in his mind, he is saving himself no doubt for his next run for president.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at
VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NewserColumns.
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