Rudy Giuliani: The Combover Years


Phil Klein of the American Spectator links to a cache of great old interviews with U.S. Attorney Giuliani. I've seen the interviews for an upcoming piece I'm writing on Rudy, and they can be a slog, but Klein sums up the best bits.

Giuliani offers his philosophy of criminal justice in the context of the passage of a major crime bill that year. On the hot button issues of the day, he says he supports capital punishment, but also waiting periods and background checks for purchasing guns. Much of the discussion centers around his belief that the justice system had drifted too far in the direction of protecting the accused and convicted, to the detriment of victims of crime. "I think we've moved away from the model of America that most of us grew up with 20, 30, years ago, which is one where we emphasize individual responsibility," he said in the first interview. He later adds: "I consider myself a very firm believer in due process, and a libertarian in that sense, but I think we became almost stupid in our excessiveness in the way in which we were protecting, overprotecting the rights of people, to the disadvantage of other people."

I don't think Giuliani has moved that position in 23 years. This is the cornerstone of his philosophy: For liberty to thrive, you need to dramatically empower the state and the legal system. Criminals and would-be criminals should have less freedom in order for the rest of us to enjoy our freedoms. This is the framework he's applied to basically every issue up to and including "the terrorists' war against us." When it comes to that, as one Republican senator said during the debate on wiretapping, "free speech doesn't mean much if you're dead."

Incidentally, this is one reason Giuliani's popularity hasn't really faded in the six years since 9/11 or in the heat of the GOP primary: This philosophy has always been popular among a certain segment of the American electorate and a large chunk of the GOP.

NEXT: reason vs. Rolling Stone

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Couldn’t look more fake if it had a chinstrap.

  2. Let me try this:

    Cue self-proclaimed “mainstream libertarian.”


  3. I’m going to get really nitpicky here:
    Criminals and would-be criminals should have less freedom in order for the rest of us to enjoy our freedoms.

    I also think a criminal’s freedom should be curtailed (as well as a would-be criminal’s freedom, if by would-be you mean attempted as in “attempted murder”, “attempted burglary”, etc.).

    I just think we should have a careful process to figure out who the criminals are, after which we can curtail their freedom by sending them to prison.

    Yeah, that was nitpicky. Sorry.

  4. Damn.
    I don’t have it.

  5. Rudy only gave up the combover for the same reason that most men do – nothing left to comb over (hoops fans: see Van Gundy, Jeff).

    I think his bald pate makes him look like Ebenezer Scrooge – not a great look for a president.

  6. Looks Like Charles Grodin to me.

  7. Or John Lithgow.

  8. The combover: the Potemkin village of haircuts.

    Or maybe the Wonderbra of haircuts?

  9. Well, we are safer from criminals if we lock up anyone who might commit a crime. Therefore, since black males are demographically more likely to commit crimes, Giuliani believes that we should lock them all up. For instance.

    What do you mean, that’s not what he means? Heck why not make the whole country a giant prison? We’d all be safer, then. In fact, why not seal us all up in individual concrete bubbles? For our safety!

    A free society involves certain risks. For example, we were and are vulnerable to terrorist attacks because we are relatively free and open. I’d rather have that vulnerability and the freedom to live my life how I will than to be completely safe. Besides, that sort of safety exposes me to the danger of a completely unchecked government, which, historically, has much more blood on its hands than the criminal classes.

  10. I think Rudy Giuliani is so law-and-order that he’s just Vlad ?epe? waiting to be reborn. If you pitched the question to him in just the right way during a debate, he probably come out in favor sending a message to would-be lawbreakers by impaling convicted criminals outside the courthouses.

  11. Sage won the thread on the first comment! I hate when that happens.

  12. 10 comments and only one isn’t idiotic.

  13. Reminds me of when Glen Whitman observed Sorites Paradox in the decision making process leading up to a healthy comb-over.

  14. When is the guy from Dondero World going to chime in that Giuliani represents true libertarianism?

  15. I’m guessing by his hairline/timeline that he’s only about through Marriage number two in this picture?

  16. Never trust a dude with a rug or a combover. Evidence of a lack of self-awareness.

  17. Never trust a dude with a rug or a combover. Evidence of a lack of self-awareness.

    In his defense he has since embraced his baldness, but he’s still a law-and-order authoritarian martinet.

  18. Liberty is locking other people in jail.

  19. Me… so… happy. Me could cry. Me like to smoke pot and have prostitute. Combover is regular hair in Donderoworld.

  20. Windypundit,

    Coincidentally, Vlad the Impaler’s castle is up for sale.

  21. This post and most of the comments are good examples of why I let my subscription to Reason lapse after 15+ years.

    I’m not going to defend every Giuliani position or hairstyle, but the idea that “criminals and would-be criminals should have less freedom in order for the rest of us to enjoy our freedoms” is what most people would consider common sense. (Setting aside issues of what should be a crime, and the definition of “would-be criminal.”) Do I really need to remind people that libertarians aren’t anarchists?

    I miss the sensible, constructive Reason of the Virginia Postrel years.

  22. Guiliani is like a Laxative.

    It’s good to purge the system periodically. But u shouldn’t use it everyday.

    I’m a NYer…and u should have seen what he did to the people that had NO VOTING power or voice in government (blacks, latinos, cab drivers, vendors, etc.)

    He had a STOP-and-STRIP program. He was responsible for 400,000 marijuana, uriniating in public, tresspassing, disorderly conduct arrest. Each of these offenses carry no more than a $45 fine. ALL THESE people got CRIMINAL records as a result.

    Very smart Guy. He ONLY targeted these people. And since he didn’t do it to the GENERAL population here in NYC…most people (who don’t care about minority issues anyway) turned their heads.

    Even the new imigrants (Indians from India) were all for it.

    Until Sept 11th, 2001…that is, then the same Indian imigrants (and anyone that looked muslum) became the NEW NIGGERs of america. Then they didn’t really like getting harrased, searched, arrest for minor offenses while being profiled, embarrised when their friends, co-workers, family members, and even their boss saw them SPREAD EAGLE at NY train stations.

    I hope Rudy becomes the PRESIDENT. This place will Look like NAZI Germany. The PRISON population will DOUBLE. And instead of RACE ROITs like we had in the 60’s…we’ll have RACIAL CIVIL WARS.

    He will continue our GET TOUGH POLICY with the TERRORIST…We’ve seen how effective that’s been since 1947….we nor Israel had had a DAY OF PEACE since.

    And of course, It won’t b long until WHITEs will be SPREAD EAGLE, harrased, searched, and arrested for minor offenses…

    And then,,,after that,,,we will NEVER have another CONSEVATIVE in OFFICE 4 a LONG time

  23. It’s pretty boilerplate tough on crime crackdown stuff that has been a staple since the 70s. I dunno what deep thoughts it’s supposed to invoke. A free people shouldn’t be so eager for it but we are. So I’m going to make fun of his hair.

  24. I don’t know…I liked the comb-over.

    I think the character behind aa man that wears a Comb-Over…speaks for itself…accept for Dick van Patten

  25. What America Needs is the RED LIGHT State.

    A place where once can safely smoka joint in the park, watch a porno on TV, drick a couple of beers and drive home, and enjoy a good piece of ass every now and then.

    It doesn’t need to b an entire state…just a square 5-10 mile area…

  26. PapayaSF, the problem is the “would-be criminals” part. And how one defines “criminal.” And how one goes about finding said “would-be criminals.”

  27. Sure, but those are Weigel’s words, not Giuliani’s.

  28. Maybe some believe a would-be criminal is someone who has been arrested. That might explain why some people wrongfully call rights of the accused, criminal rights.

    “””A place where once can safely smoka joint in the park, watch a porno on TV, drick a couple of beers and drive home, and enjoy a good piece of ass every now and then.”””

    Sounds about like NYC when I got here in 1990. With all the bars and great public transportation, no need to drive. People were smoking pot and drinking beers (in a bag) in the park all the time. Until Rudy came to town. But he did clean up a lot of crime.

  29. The trick would have been to concentrate only on the crimes with victims, which don’t include substance use of any sort by consenting adults.

  30. Reason List Moderators:

    Please not someone above is posting under my name. Those are not my words.

    Hit & Miss Commentors, please note some alleged libertarian, is posting my name on this List, with absurd comments that are not mine.

  31. Crimes with victims are FAR more difficult to catch, procecute, etc. Victimless Vice Crimes are the Way to go.

  32. with absurd comments that are not mine.

    Yet, oddly, noone could tell it was not you.

  33. “the idea that ‘criminals and would-be criminals should have less freedom in order for the rest of us to enjoy our freedoms’ is what most people would consider common sense. (Setting aside issues of what should be a crime, and the definition of ‘would-be criminal.’)”

    Your parenthetical defeats the purpose of your argument. Defining criminals and especially would-be criminals is the whole problem, not some aberration to be worked out later. As NYC’s mayor, Rudy’s philosophy was to arrest everybody he could get his hands on. Maybe it worked, maybe it wasn’t necessary (due to gentrification), but can you seriously argue that America, as a nation, needs to start arresting everybody? I wasn’t aware that there was a squeegee-man problem in Arkansas.

  34. That’s oh so cynical of you there Isaac. Instead of condemning someone who is posting under another person’s name, you respond with a wise-ass remark.

    Shows that maybe you too aren’t a real libertarian who respects individual rights and property rights (i.e. someone’s very own name), but rather a poser.

  35. Funny Story about Guiliani in today’s Boston Globe.

    The reporter went down to North Carolina, to a Rudy Guiliani political event, and couldn’t find a single person among his admirers would could name a single notable thing he did on 9/11.

    He provided leadership. He displayed emotion. He looked good. No one could think of anything useful that he did. But he walked around and got on camera and stuff.

  36. He ain’t one of the admins, Dondero.

    I’m just amused it took someone using your name for you to squirm out into sight on this topic.

  37. No, Dondero, what it shows is that I don’t take you seriously. So no, I don’t really care about an obviously prank post.

    Even though it was obviously not made by you it didn’t make any less sense than the bullshit you usually post.

    In fact I think you are a buffoon who deserves to be mocked.

  38. i just want alot done about these raging hormonal maniacs who kidnap children and young kids and pregnant women and rape and kill them. seems like everynight we have child molestation and some woman or kid getting murdered by some loser. they should get life in prison without the possibility of parole and if murder is attached to it they should die the same death they did to their victims . makes me cry everytime i see the crap and very angry and i think rudy is the only politician who even cares about crime . he has my vote.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.