Monday, July 30, 2007

Say what you want about all those other Mrs. Giulianis, but Donna Hanover suffered enough just being married to the slug all those years

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Sometimes you have to draw lines.

Now, with respect to the present Mrs. Rudy Giuliani (see Howie's post below), while I've never met the woman, I'm prepared to believe most any nasty or evil thing that's reported about her.

I just want to pencil in a line where the linkage occurs between Howie's unarguable observation that "Giuliani is well-known for making terrible choices in people" and the entire roster of folks our Rudy has been married to. I'd like to have that line wrap carefully around the longest-suffering of the Giuliani Wives, Donna Hanover.

Now, I've never met Ms. Hanover either. (Okay, if you're going to put it that way, I really haven't met much of anybody.) But I haven't heard of anybody who doesn't think of her as a nice and pretty classy lady.

In fact, she illustrates a quality of Rudy's that may be as disturbing as his propensity for hanging out with cheesy lowlifes: his apparent ability to cloud men's--and obviously women's--minds to see him as something other than, well, what he is. There shouldn't be any surprise that lowlifes gravitate to him--surely they can spot one of their own. But quite reasonable people seem open to believing the false images he creates of himself.

His image as a crusading U.S. attorney, for example--even though a staggering percentage of the convictions he won were chucked on appeal. Or his self-presentation as a pillar of law and order, even though as mayor of New York City he flouted the law whenever he felt like it, and sneeringly dared anyone who didn't like it to sue, opening the way for just about everybody who did sue to win and drain a steady flow of settlement money out of the city coffers.

Nobody knows better than Donna Hanover that she's made at least one whoppingly bad choice in her life. Well, which of us hasn't? I guess, back when Rudy was the object of such general adulation, it was possible to look at him and see . . . I'm sorry, you'll have to ask them what they saw. All I ever saw was a vicious little pile of crud who had presumably grown up having the stuffing kicked out of him by bullies, and who determined therefrom that he knew what he wanted to be if and when he ever grew up: the most ruthless and self-aggrandizing bully in town.

I don't know how long it took the second Mrs. G to discover the scope of her bad choice. She did, after all, have two kids with the slug. Possibly she thought that deep down she saw a prince, where those not vision-impaired by love saw a really hideous frog. At some point, though, she must have seen what's what. Nevertheless, she remained steadfastly private about her problems, even as Rudy began to humiliate her publicly.

If she had wanted payback, I think it's safe to say that she knew she had the goods with which to humiliate the son of a bitch into career oblivion. Yet she never said a word. You figure she didn't want to drag her children into the public eye, and wasn't about to contribute to the public embarrassment of their father, whatever she herself had come to think of him. (Plus, of course, considering how long she had stuck by him, anything she might have told us about him would hardly have reflected well on herself.)

If you want to think really ill of Rudy, you can speculate that he understood this about her, and took advantage of it when he kicked his career as Public Slimeball No. 1 into high gear, flaunting his relationship with Princess Judi*--and then blurting out publicly his intention to divorce his wife without, apparently, troubling to discuss it privately first.

It's a mark of Rudy's character that two of the luckiest strokes of his adult life were prostate cancer and 9/11. First, the cancer made it harder for people to hate him as much as growing numbers of New Yorkers had come to--harder, but not impossible. Then came his big score with 9/11, and literally overnight people forgot how low he had sunk in most every sense, including popularity.

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*Yes, I know the princess insists on being called "Judith." Knowing that being called "Judi" drives her nuts is why I think we should take pains to do so.

This is in accordance with what I call the Chipper Jones Rule. In the years when the New York Mets were struggling to escape perennial domination by the Atlanta Braves, no Brave loomed larger as a Mets-killer than third baseman Chipper Jones (the 1999 NL MVP). It turned out, though, that Chipper has an Achilles' heel: He can't stand being called Larry.

Now, there's nothing at all wrong about being named Larry, nothing the least bit embarrassing, but Mets' fans discovered that it just about made him weep, and so took care to chant vigorously, every time he came to bat: "Larry! Larry! Larry!" It didn't lead to any more wins that I recall, but it felt better just knowing how rotten it made him--make that "Larry"--feel.

Sometimes you settle for the small victories.

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