Alex Massie

Giuliani waves the bloody shirt of 9/11?

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Glenn Reynolds suggests that the New York City firefighters' attack on Rudy Giuliani are proof of, well, something:

Between this and the silly stuff about Fred Thompson, Democrats are looking more nervous about 2008 than you'd expect.

Sure. Right. Would Professor Reynolds argue that Republican attacks on, say, Hillary Clinton demonstrated "nervousness" or would they be a commonsense warning of horrors to come should America be so foolish as to elect her President?

As for the merits of the IAFF's case against Giuliani, well, you can probably argue it both ways. Whether Giuliani could have done more for the FDNY isn't really the point. But there is something exploitative and unseemly about Giuliani's apparent belief that 9/11 and its memory is enough to gain him the nomination.

Consider this account of a recent Giuliani speech in Delaware:

Rudy Giuliani was just six seconds into his speech when he played his campaign trump card: the memory of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I'll tell you the reason I wear this flag," the former New York City mayor told supporters at a recent rally here, pointing to the American flag pin on his lapel. "Before September 11, I only wore this flag rarely. But I started wearing it right after September 11. I wear it every day now. Each time I wear it, it reminds me of September 11."

That's good to know. No argument with that is there? The subtext is obvious, isn't it? Anyone who argues with or questions Giuliani's record or judgment is, implicitly, questioning his heroism and his patriotism. How can you dare do that? Wrapping the campaign in the memory of 9/11 is supposed to render Giuliani bullet-proof.

But that's not actually good enough, is it? It's far form clear, either, just how Giuliani's deservedly-hailed conduct in the days immediately after the atrocity automatically grants him insight into national security matters and foreign policy wisdom. We're supposed to take that on trust because he was there and a leader and you weren't. Well, that's not enough either. Giuliani's performance in the aftermath was remarkable. But we might also pause to remember that he also tried to persuade New Yorkers that it would be a good idea for matters to be arranged so that he could have a third term in office. That speaks to a certain something in his character too - something that should give one pause before granting him immunity from questioning even as he waves the bloody shirt of 9/11.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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