As someone who lived through Sept. 11 in New York City, I will always be grateful to Rudy Giuliani. The mayor's quick instincts and sound judgment that day prevented panic. His calm authority got the city through the worst hours in its history and set it on the path to recovery. This wasn't a given. President Bush's initial public responses to the attacks were shaky, late, and far from reassuring.
But the presidential bid Rudy announced last week is staked on more than that Churchillian moment. It is also based on the notion that he is an effective manager who tamed an out-of-control metropolis and ran it efficiently. The real picture is somewhat more complicated. Giuliani was a frustrated and not very popular mayor on Sept. 10, 2001. Today, most New Yorkers do see him as a hero, but also as a self-sabotaging, thin-skinned bully. To put it more bluntly, we know he's a bit of a dictator.
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