Thursday, July 14, 2005 | A new biography of Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, was heralded this week by The New York Times Book Review under the heading: “Cut Out for the Job.”
The biography that is unlikely to be written – although it could illuminate dark corners of our civic psyche – is of Dick Murphy, the former Superior Court judge.
Murphy came reluctantly to resign his elected job as mayor of San Diego well into his second term, only after Time magazine listed him as one of the nation’s three worst mayors.
Murphy could have spared this city embarrassing damage if he had faced that truth long before it became a national story. By then, even his staunchest friends and allies had conceded that Murphy was not cut out for the job.
The biography of Giuliani, “The Prince of the City,” is one that every San Diegan planning to vote in the upcoming mayoral election should be reading now. We should not bumble our way into another mayoral election without understanding the consequences.
The biographey calls Giuliani “the first (New York) mayor in a generation who was not steeped in the liberal consensus.” Giuliani described “freedom” as “the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do and how you do it.”
Only because New Yorkers were disgusted with their government’s status quo – in many of the same terms that San Diegans now profess to be of our city administration – did they elect a candidate with such professed political rigidity.
To quote the review:
“…Giuliani showed, both in word and deed, that new York was governable, even if the city required the psychic equivalent of a 12-step program in order to regain its willpower … (He said that) ‘the new urban agenda should declare that we can solve our own problems.’”
Giuliani was widely considered to be a policy wonk, and Traub believes this trait blurred his worst moments but “his greatest moment of all – the response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.”
There is no candidate in the San Diego race readily compared to Giuliani, although the image of City Attorney Mike Aguirre comes to mind as the closest of kin within this city’s government.
Yet, even an hour or two spent with Fred and Harry Siegel’s Giuliani between now and July 26 would make any San Diego voter more reflective, perhaps more demanding, and certainly more curious to know how his candidate stacks up against the remarkable Giuliani.
And if mayoral candidates took time at least to scan the book, it could be one more step toward making San Diego the finest city that we claim it is.