By BAILEY AGBAI
Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani is, like so many of the political figures he allies himself with, a multi-layered and clearly multi-faceted conundrum in the ever-confusing landscape that is American politics. He presents himself as though a character written for the screen; he’s had his highs and now he is experiencing the lowest of lows. What makes his fall from grace so tragic is his chosen method of self-inflicted character assassination. Bill Clinton chose infidelity, George Bush chose war, but Rudy Giuliani has, somehow unbeknownst to him, chosen a process even worse than adultery and war: slapstick comedy.
Once the uncontested hero of 2001, Giuliani has assumed the role of tragic hero and morphed into, not just a villain, but Donald Trump’s personal jester, as if he ever needed one. His descension from a place of reverence, into one of ridicule and embarrassment is one of the many tragic stories of 2020; once the hero of 9/11, he is now the laughing stock of Washington. How does one as venerated as Giuliani find themselves ostracised from the company of fellow American heroes?
After the tragedy of September 11th 2001, Americans were united in their grief for the lives lost and in their rage against the perpetrators of the terror attacks. Rudy Giuliani was the Mayor of New York City at the time, and his response was lauded internationally as he displayed a unifying leadership approach that instilled hope of better days to come; Oprah Winfrey labelled him “America’s Mayor”, he was bestowed with an honorary knighthood from the Queen, and Time magazine named him its Person of the Year. He was lifted onto a pedestal because he represented the patriotism and resilience that America sought more than ever in some of its darkest days.
However, Giuliani’s reliance on patriotism and unity stands in stark contrast to his pandering to the personal needs and wants of Donald Trump. His affiliation with the President is a blatant endorsement of Trumpism – a very divisive framework that has led to one of the most divisive times in American history. By associating himself with Trump, he is no longer the symbol of unity that he once was for Americans on the advent of the War on Terror; inversely, he is an ambassador of division.
Whilst Giuliani’s rise was a drama, his downfall has been a very tragic comedy. We have bore witness to his ridicule at the hands of Sacha Baron Cohen in the Borat sequel, we have cringed at the press conference he erroneously held outside Four Seasons Total Landscaping, and we have watched hair dye drip down his sweaty face as if his previous blunders were not hysterically disastrous enough. All of the embarrassment he has endured is the result of his curious choice to join Donald Trump’s legal team. His willingness to act as personal lawyer to someone so globally divisive could be a consequence of a complacency developed from the praise and adoration he received in 2001. It is highly plausible that, in his mind, his past efforts and victories should outweigh the defamatory consequences that his association with Trump has caused.
It’s hard to ignore the correlating personality trait that crops up in every controversial Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump incident: narcissism. The President has always been his own biggest advocate, and it seems as though Giuliani is following in his client’s footsteps and attempting to uphold an image of importance and omnipotence that was shattered a long time ago. Although one was successful in 2016, both of these men have ran failed presidential campaigns. Prior to their campaigns for the presidency, they were already well-known and successful in their own respective fields. Their constant and consistent attempts at power grabs, whether it be to hold the highest office in the land or to serve it, not only shows Giuliani and Trump’s desire for power, it shows the importance they both place on image.
Rudy Giuliani could have died a hero had he not felt the desire to try and take his already extraordinary reputation to new heights. The consequence of his overambition is a transition from fame to infamy. Just another passenger on the sinking ship that is the Trump administration, he has successfully destroyed his legacy. There is a marked difference between his powers of unity during 2001 and his current vendetta against the supposed election fraudsters; he has devolved from a defender of the American people into a critic.
Image - Flickr- Gage Skidmore