Trump and Gi­u­liani ‘typ­i­cal’ New York­ers? Fugged­aboutit

The Globe and Mail (BC Edition) - - NEWS | OPINION - BENE­DICT COSGROVE Brooklyn-based writer and editor

The longer Rudy Gi­u­liani serves as U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s pin­striped pit bull, the more un­com­fort­able many New York­ers feel. Part of that un­ease, of course, is stoked by the Pres­i­dent and his lawyer’s re­lent­less at­tacks on de­cency, the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion and the truth. But al­most as alarm­ing is the aw­ful pos­si­bil­ity that peo­ple around the globe might ac­tu­ally buy the lie that Mr. Gi­u­liani and Mr. Trump are typ­i­cal New York­ers.

Jour­nal­ists and gos­sip colum­nists have re­lied on the phrase “brash New Yorker” as short­hand for the rhetoric and be­hav­iour of Mr. Trump and Mr. Gi­u­liani ever since both men blun­dered onto the na­tional stage in the 1980s. In that most ve­nal of decades, Mr. Trump des­per­ately courted the spot­light as a sil­ver-spoon, renta-su­per­model doo­fus while Mr. Gi­u­liani got his first real taste of fame as a high-pro­file U.S. lawyer pros­e­cut­ing mob­sters and Wall Street crooks.

In re­cent decades, as Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Gi­u­liani’s paths have crossed again and again, the par­al­lels in cer­tain as­pects of their lives have only grown starker. Each has left bro­ken mar­riages in his wake; each has em­braced, and been em­braced by, their coun­try’s con­spir­acy-ad­dled, white-na­tion­al­ist far right; and – al­though nei­ther will ad­mit it – each is now largely de­spised in the city where he first made his mark. (Ex­am­ples: Mr. Gi­u­liani was re­cently re­sound­ingly booed by count­less fans at Yan­kee Sta­dium – on his 74th birth­day. In the 2016 elec­tion, Mr. Trump man­aged only 65,000 votes in the en­tire bor­ough of Man­hat­tan; Hil­lary Clin­ton re­ceived 580,000.)

It’s true that both are na­tive New York­ers: Mr. Trump was born in Queens, Mr. Gi­u­liani in Brooklyn – but any mo­ron knows that ac­ci­dents of birth don’t au­to­mat­i­cally con­vey merit.

It’s also true that Mr. Trump’s name adorns crass prop­er­ties all over the city, while Mr. Gi­u­liani still wraps him­self in the fray­ing man­tle of “Amer­ica’s Mayor” that he donned in the af­ter­math of the Sept. 11 at­tacks. (What hap­pened to that Rudy Gi­u­liani is any­one’s guess.)

Still, de­spite their deep con­nec­tions to the city, Mr. Trump and Mr. Gi­u­liani are “typ­i­cal” New York­ers in much the same way that the Looney Tunes car­toon rooster, Foghorn Leghorn, is a typ­i­cal South­erner: that’s to say, blus­ter­ing, bump­tious and lit­er­ally grotesque.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Gi­u­liani are not brash. They’re just jerks.

Broadly speak­ing, New York­ers do share cer­tain char­ac­ter­is­tics. Many are laugh­ably im­pa­tient. Most walk fast, talk fast and think fast (not al­ways crit­i­cally, or well – but fast). Quite a few are in­suf­fer­ably smug about liv­ing in what they are cer­tain is the great­est city in the world. But other defin­ing as­pects of New York­ers rarely ap­pear in, say, Hol­ly­wood de­pic­tions of the city, mainly be­cause most New York traits don’t fit a con­ve­nient nar­ra­tive about “brash” Big Ap­ple blowhards. For in­stance, New York­ers are both friendly and brusque – a bal­anc­ing act that non-New York­ers per­ceive as rude but is, in truth, a sur­vival tech­nique in a city of eight mil­lion peo­ple with strong opin­ions and sharp el­bows.

As it turns out, though, few New York­ers are draft-dodg­ing se­rial bankrupts, ac­cused sex­ual as­saulters and fa­mously com­pul­sive liars. Hardly any New York­ers are real­ity-TV clowns.

Al­most no New York­ers are pub­lic fig­ures praised by neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, and one would be hard-pressed to find a sin­gle New Yorker who be­lieves that Canada poses a na­tional se­cu­rity threat to the United States.

A pos­i­tively mi­nus­cule num­ber of New York­ers are cur­rently de­spoil­ing the Oval Of­fice, and by all ac­counts, there is only one New Yorker adored by the Chris­tian right who blithely pays porn stars to keep quiet about his (al­leged) ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fairs. And that’s just the Pres­i­dent. Has any­one ever met a New Yorker who made his name in law en­force­ment and went on to pub­licly com­pare FBI agents with Nazi storm troop­ers, the way Mr. Gi­u­liani has?

Only two New York­ers match any of those descriptions. One is an un­prin­ci­pled dem­a­gogue and BFF to au­to­crats ev­ery­where; the other is a guy who used to mat­ter but now re­sem­bles a seething, dis­com­bob­u­lated ghost of his for­mer self. So, please: Let’s stop re­fer­ring to Mr. Trump and Mr. Gi­u­liani as “brash New York­ers” or cit­ing them as ex­em­plars of the city at its rough-and-tum­ble best.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Gi­u­liani are out­liers; walk­ing, trash-talk­ing as­saults on the dig­nity and se­cu­rity of the United States, and clear and present dan­gers to the foun­da­tional no­tion of the rule of law. They are un­funny car­toons. In fact, of all the pos­si­ble types of New York­ers, they’re the ab­so­lute worst.

In re­cent decades, as Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Gi­u­liani’s paths have crossed again and again, the par­al­lels in cer­tain as­pects of their lives have only grown starker.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.