Will Rudy's legacy on race issues be buried with his candidacy ?

Categories: Rudy Giuliani

I'm not calling this primary, but I am readying the relevant muscles for a dynamic goodbye wave to Rudy Giuliani.

It's really too bad in a way. He gave us reason to confront some complex issues--most notably the intersection of race and politics.

Rudy's hometown paper ran a fascinating piece looking at the candidate's legacy of dealing with race issues as mayor of New York City. In a Republican contest virtually empty of the race discussion happening on the Democratic side, it's too bad this stuff wasn't much part of the conversation while he was still a contender.

Here's a particularly jarring excerpt:

Determined to assault the liberal trenches, Mr. Giuliani never blanched at giving offense. He lopped the welfare rolls by 500,000, laid off thousands of black political appointees seen as too liberal and hired hundreds of more conservative whites seen as loyal to his political agenda. And he sent two schools chancellors — one black, one Hispanic — spinning out of town.

In 1995, he proposed cutting welfare benefits, and suggested that many of the poor might profitably leave town. “A natural consequence of a reduction in benefits might very well be that that would happen,” Mr. Giuliani said, adding, “That would be a good thing.”

Mr. Giuliani has written in his book “Leadership” about his belief in the cleansing power of confrontational words. Nor is he enamored of compromise. Asked in 2000 about reaching out to black leaders, he shook his head and said, “What happens when you engage in the dialogue is, you compromise.”

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