THE WIND-UP CANDIDATE….More before-and-after comparisons. Here is James Fallows last night on Rudy Giuliani’s performance after Bush’s speech:
He looks like a man who is crazy. Making no clinical diagnosis here, just talking about his affect as it comes across on TV. I am sure this is partly just my unfamiliarity with his tic of stressing a point by opening his eyes so wide you can see the whites all the way around. He does that a lot, and at first glance it’s odd. But beyond that is the eerie sense of how strongly he resembles the earlier, cockier G.W. Bush of two or three years ago.
OK, but in the fresh light of the morning we’ll get a more nuanced take, right? Let’s check in:
Impression the second time around….Mayor Giuliani, outrageously worse. Is this how he’s been all along? To start with, he doesn’t know anything. To be more precise: not a single sentence that he utters suggests any familiarity with what people have been saying and arguing — about terrorism, Iraq, the situation of the military, security trade-offs, etc — for the last few years. He’s out of date in two ways: He displays the “fashionable in 2003 and 2004” assumption that if you say “nine-eleven, nine-eleven, nine-eleven!!” enough times, you end all debate about military policy. He displays the “fashionable about three weeks ago” assumption that if you say “General Petraeus, General Petraeus, General Petraeus” enough times, you’ve offered an Iraq policy. And through it all he seems totally self-confident. Hmm, have we seen anything like this combo before?
That’s more like it. Aside from the bugeye thing, which makes Giuliani look just plain weird, I was struck, as I usually am, by how completely lacking in substance Giuliani is. He’s literally a candidate built purely on attitude, like some hastily sketched-in part in a B movie. I’m surprised he’s done even as well as he has so far, but there’s no way the press is going to give him a pass on his pull-the-string-and-hear-a-buzzword candidacy for much longer. He’s doomed.