No Upside for Reluctant Statesmen
Jason Horowitz looks at how much longer the Rudy "bubble" of invulnerability can last with the Mayor seemingly prepping a Presidential bid:
It brings up one question, though: Is this also the beginning of the end of the Giuliani bubble?A lot of people are betting that Rudy won't want to give it all up on a destructive and possibly losing bid for the White House. I'm betting otherwise.
Mr. Giuliani, after all, has yet to return to earth after the former Mayor’s virtual beatification following Sept. 11. In the five years since the country rallied around his display of gutsy leadership, “America’s Mayor” has inhabited something of a political paradise.
The fact that he doesn’t hold public office—and has yet to formalize his intentions to run for President—has effectively rendered him immune from criticism. His close and emotionally charged association with 9/11 lends an unequalled authority to his national-security speeches and has propelled the 62-year-old to greater heights of celebrity than he ever enjoyed as Mayor.
Who rates more mentions in the history books, Douglas MacArthur or Dwight D. Eisenhower? MacArthur was certainly the more outspoken of the two, and millions clamored for him to lead them. But he never ran, and thus never got to shape history beyond a brief run after retiring from the Army. A more recent example is even more illustrative.
For a time in 1995, the Earth seemed to stop spinning on its axis as America awaited Colin Powell's decision on entering the Presidential race. By all accounts, he could have made quick work of Bill Clinton. In the end, this reluctant warrior balked yet again. Five years later, Powell would be named Secretary of State. During his tenure, he was a lonely figure, resisting the Iraq war from within. He wound up retiring in frustration, popular but powerless.
Had he pursued the bolder path, Colin Powell could have been President on 9/11 and could have rejected out of hand the idea of going into Iraq. I personally believe Powell would have been a disaster in the foreign policy arena, but in opting for popularity over a down-and-dirty run for the presidency, Powell miscalculated badly in terms of his ability to influence the debate.
Our political system has but one currency and that is power. Not popularity, but power. And you either have it or you don't. (Certainly Rudy-watchers must concede that power is something Hizzoner understands.) When it comes to making your mark in history, there is still no substitute for the Presidency.