Long-time Power Line readers probably remember my “conservative cousin from New York,” whose comments on the political scene used to feature fairly regularly on this blog. My cousin has been an obsessive observer of New York politics from a conservative perspective (but not a neo-conservative one — he was a Jewish conservative before the Jewish leaders of that movement were) since the days of Mayor Robert (“Fighting Bob”) Wagner Jr.
My cousin has had serious medical problems recently, and I’ve been dying to get his take on Rudy Giuliani (or rather to get it in writing, since I already know what it is). Fortunately, he has now recovered sufficiently to opine on America’s mayor and here’s what he has to say:
I’ve been watching C-Span’s coverage of the American Conservative Union’s forum for Republican Presidential hopefuls. I was surprised by the warm reception that Rudy Giuliani received. Beyond his stance on abortion and gay rights, I wonder how many in the audience were aware of his endorsement of Mario Cuomo for Governor or his running for Mayor on the Liberal Party line, and [of]the prominent role Liberal Party officials played in his administration.
George Will introducing Rudy to the audience gave him credit for everything good that had happened in New York over the last 15 years. Someone once said that if you told Rudy Giuliani about a beautiful morning sunrise, he would reply “Thank you very much.”
In reality the crime rate declined by a higher percentage during the last two years of the Dinkins administration than it did during Rudy’s tenure. Ray Kelly, Dinkins Police Commissioner, introduced many of the reforms for which Rudy takes credit. Recognizing the good job done by Kelly, he was reappointed to head the Police Department by Mike Bloomberg.
Much of the drop in crime was probably due to the changing demographics of New York and the ending of the crack epidemic. Mayoral policies had little or nothing to do with this.
Where Rudy deserves high marks is for his handling of the economy. In sharp contrast to his predecessor, he lowered taxes and took a pro-business stance. He also did try to curb the power of municipal unions with mixed results.