Rudy Giuliani, of course, was the perfect choice for Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” award. Here’s hoping, however, that his post-9/11 leadership and resilience — as well as subsequent political successes — never obscure his most important legacy. He cleaned up the Stygian Stables of Gotham and proved that a big metropolitan colossus wasn’t congenitally dysfunctional — but governable and, even, lovable. On and off Broadway.
With Giuliani out in front, New York meant business. As in investment, commerce, tourism, and safe streets.
Under Giuliani, the city fully implemented the “broken windows” theory of policing, which holds that minor offenses — such as graffiti scrawling, turnstyle-jumping and prostitution — do matter and have a corrosive, ripple effect throughout society. Smut shops were zoned out of Times Square — or out of business. For the last six years, the FBI has ranked New York as the nation’s safest large city.
Were it not for such successes, New Yorkers would have had a pre-Giuliani quality of life to return to after the 9/11 attack. New Yorkers still would have rallied, of course, because they’re tough, but Giuliani made it much easier. New York was on a solvent-and-safe roll and there was no going back — horrific atrocity notwithstanding.
As New York’s point man, Giuliani personified the resolve of the city and by extension, the country. He even made it easy for all Americans to identify and empathize with New Yorkers, no small phenomenon in its own right. And in so doing, he helped bring all Americans together.
Yes, Giuliani had become “America’s Mayor,” but it was two terms in the making. He showed cities across America that the forces of crime, cultural sludge, civic resignation, welfare dependency and urban liberalism need not triumph.
Giuliani proved that it was possible to clean up and govern New York, a task in some ways more daunting than defying terrorists and rebuilding a chunk of South Manhattan.
Rudy Giuliani: After eight years, the right person at the right place for the right Time cover. Hillary Who?