2001
Rudolph Giuliani, the New York City Mayor becomes the Nation's Mayor.


Few Italian American political figures have acquired such national prestige and renown as has Rudolph Giuliani (1944- ) in the wake of the September 11, 2001 tragedy that destroyed the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Amidst destruction and despair he emerged as a steadying and steadfast rock, one who would give new meaning to crisis leadership, earning praise as "America's mayor." Rudolph W. Giuliani was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1944 studied at Catholic schools, Manhattan College and New York University Law School. Originally a liberal Democrat, Giuliani became a Republican working as a lawyer for a federal judge and in the United States Justice Department where he became an assistant United States attorney in New York's Southern District. He became assistant to the deputy attorney general, associate attorney general, and in 1983 United States attorney in New York's Southern District. He established a reputation as a tough anti-crime fighter whose high-profile prosecutions of racketeers, Wall Street securities dealers and organized crime figures, including Italian Americans, brought him national fame. There was satisfaction among his ethnic group for bringing to justice those who had calumniated Italian Americans. Enjoying such high visibility led him to veer toward elective political office when in 1989 he received the nomination of the Republican and Liberal parties for mayor of New York City. Although enjoying much popularity as a law and order candidate, he lost the election to David Dinkins. The 1989 race, however, whetted his appetite for politics that resumed as he once again ran against Dinkins in 1993, this time winning with an overwhelming endorsement of the city's white population. He immediately instituted steps to reduce nuisance crimes in the city that won praise of most, although he continued to have weak support among African Americans. Nevertheless, within a few years Giuliani proved that the city was governable as crime was significantly reduced, welfare was under better control, and quality of life significantly improved.

A large personality, Giuliani was not wanting for critics who lashed out at his frequently abrasive disposition and failure to correct the huge problems be-deviling public education. Notwithstanding opposition of minorities and liberals he was re-elected overwhelmingly in 1997 as most city residents and visitors seemed to desire a safer and more secure environment even if it meant an extra margin of aggressiveness against panhandlers and the homeless. Spectacular is perhaps the word to use to describe Rudolph Giuliani's last year of office when international terror struck the heart of the city.

His public leadership following the September 11 attack provided a shocked city and nation with an extraordinary example of reassurance and comfort. Day after mournful day citizens watched Giuliani manifest genuine concern and sympathy to the afflicted families and hard-working rescuers, weeping with them and praying with them. It was a transforming spectacle, one that seemed to change the man into one who had deep feelings, one who could extend himself to the utmost in a time of extreme and unprecedented crisis. He was a source of consolation not only to fellow Italian Americans but also to the nation as a whole. For his leadership in this emergency Time magazine named him 2001 "Man of the Year."

By 2008 Giuliani had set his sights on the presidency, entering the Republican primaries and for a brief period was actually the front-runner, thereby becoming the first Italian American to have a credible possibility to win the Republican presidential nomination. Unable to maintain his lead, however, he fell behind other candidates and eventually dropped out of the race.





View Previous Entry     View Next Entry       Back to Timeline