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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

 
GOP Freakshow

by digby

Via Kevin Drum, here's John Fund:

Mr. Giuliani's deputy press secretary Jason Miller told me the NRA incident was definitely not a stunt. Instead it was a "candid and spontaneous moment" that would humanize the tough-guy former mayor with voters.

Nice try....The fact is that people inside the Giuliani campaign are appalled at the number of times their candidate has felt compelled to interrupt public appearances to take calls from his wife. The estimate from those in a position to know is that he has taken such calls more than 40 times in the middle of speeches, conferences and presentations to large donors.

....[Giuliani] admitted he had taken calls from his wife "before in engagements, and I didn't realize it would create any kind of controversy." That's hardly possible. Giuliani staffers say he has been warned over and over again that the phone calls are rude and inappropriate and have alienated everyone from local officials to top donors to close friends.If it's a stunt, it's not one coming from him," says one Giuliani staffer. "It's an ongoing problem that he won't take advice on."

And in trying to explain his odd behavior, Mr. Giuliani has only dug himself in deeper. On Friday he told David Brody of CBN News that since 9/11, when he and Mrs. Giuliani get on a plane, "most of the time . . . we talk to each other and just reaffirm the fact that we love each other." He admitted he had taken calls from his wife "before in engagements, and I didn't realize it would create any kind of controversy." That's hardly possible. Giuliani staffers say he has been warned over and over again that the phone calls are rude and inappropriate and have alienated everyone from local officials to top donors to close friends.

Consider a spring incident in Oklahoma City. Mr. Giuliani spoke twice at the Oklahoma History Center, first at a small private roundtable for $2,300 donors and then to 150 people who donated $500 apiece. Ten minutes into the roundtable, Mr. Giuliani's phone rang. He left the room to take the call, apparently from Mrs. Giuliani, and never returned. The snubbed donors received no explanation. "The people there viewed it as disrespectful and cheesy," says Pat McGuigan, a local newspaper editor who was asked by the Giuliani campaign to moderate the roundtable.

An hour or so later, Mr. Giuliani was speaking to the bigger group of donors when his phone rang again. While he spoke with his wife, he invited her to say hello to the assembled crowd. "It was remarkable, and was not viewed by the audience in a positive way," public relations executive Brenda Jones told me.

I've been told of many other incidents, from a California fund-raiser to a Florida speech to a gathering with top donors at Bear Stearns in New York. At the Bear Stearns meeting, Mr. Giuliani took a call from his wife and then noting the strained faces of his supporters, he sheepishly tried a joke. "I've been married three times," he explained. "I can't afford to lose another one. I'm sure you understand." (Mr. Giuliani's media office didn't return a call I made to them on Friday afternoon.)

Mr. Giuliani understands that such behavior is rude--when other people do it. A year ago Hanna Rosin reported in The Atlantic Monthly on a speech Mr. Giuliani gave at a motivational seminar in Iowa before he became a candidate:

Giuliani was up to principle No. 2 ("Follow your hopes and dreams") when he was interrupted. From down in the audience, just beyond the stage, he heard a cell phone ring. He stopped in the middle of telling a story. "It's okay, you can answer your cell phone," he said. "You won't interrupt me." The woman whose phone had rung was mortified; he had just embarrassed her in front of 18,000 people. In the "town hall" meetings he used to conduct as mayor of New York, through a radio show, Giuliani was not known for his good-natured populism. He was known for making fun of constituents who called him with what he thought were petty problems. This is the dark Giuliani, and here he was, making an unwelcome appearance.

He shifted to a long digression about the scene in "Dr. Strangelove" where General Buck Turgidson answers a call in the middle of a crisis and whispers sweet nothings to his girl on the phone, as the nation's political and military leadership looks on impatiently. "Just tell him you love him so I can go on with my speech," Giuliani said. No one was laughing. Giuliani actually waited for the woman to hang up. Then, after a painful minute or so, he was back in candidate mode, talking about Vince Lombardi and the mind of a champion.


Kevin posits a series of possible reasons why Giuliani might do this, none of which excuse his bizarre behavior.(And I suspect they are all true to some degree, especially #3 --- and yes, he should be on medication.)

The Republicans just foisted the village idiot on this country for eight years and now they are trying to elect a crazy man. Somebody needs to do an intervention on the whole party.


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