The Real Rudy?
Newsweek has a lengthy profile of Giuliani that burrows into his youth to explain Rudy the Politician. The piece quotes from the John Judis piece in The New Republic, which we posted earlier, that tries to explain Giuliani's authoritarian streak in terms of traditional Catholic thought. To me, the Newsweek profile (lengthy and meaty) does more to explain Rudy simply by setting out the Catholic culture he grew up in, the tribalism, and the style of Catholic education. Such as the Christian Brothers who used corporal punishment as a matter of course--and were thanked by the senior Giulianis for doing so.
"Corporal punishment was routine at Bishop Loughlin. Adolescent anarchy was a fearful thing; the Brothers beat it out of kids. Some students were afraid. "When you see someone picked up by the shirt and tie and punched in the face, or other teachers throwing chalk across the roomit was very scary," says Joseph Sicinski, who was Giuliani's classmate."
"At Bishop Loughlin, Giuliani was a catechist, a student who instructed younger children in Catholic doctrine. Giuliani was not remarkably pious, but like many dutiful boys of his time and background, he seriously considered the priesthood. (He would later joke to friends that he gave up his priestly ambitions because "celibacy ain't for me.") But Giuliani wound up applying for a college scholarship "to study law or medicine," the classic roads of upward mobility for the sons of immigrant families."
This and other pieces also try to explain Giuliani's soft spot for his oft-times nefarious friends (and, presumably, his peace with his rather wayward personal life) as part of the Catholic understanding of "that fine, blurry line between saint and sinner."
David Brooks tried a similar tack in a recent column, The Real Rudy in which he (somewhat cloyingly) praises Giuliani's "inner light"--that is, his former, more liberal views on immigation and gays and abortion--and wonders why he has abandoned his true self.
I'm not so sure that washes. Maybe what we see is Rudy's true self. I do think it will be fascinating to see (esp after yesterday's revelations of taxpayer funds used during his extramarital affair) how--and whether--Giuliani will play out as a "Catholic" candidate.
UPDATE: Two stories out now that could have more impact on Giuliani's chances than his Catholic education. One is from the Village Voice on Rudy's ties to Qatar sheiks who were cozy with the kind of folks Rudy likes to denounce.
Second is a story on the front of today's Times, Citing Statistics, Giuliani Misses Time and Again about Giuliani's "misstatements." Money quote:
"All of these statements are incomplete, exaggerated or just plain wrong."
If only the Christian Brothers could get their hands on him now...I have a sense this truthiness will come to haunt him, esp as Huckabee marches on.