New York vs. the rest of America

Rudy Giuliani may be the front-runner for the GOP presidential nod, but he’s headed for a fall because he suffers from Gothamyopia, a disease that affects your vision. Giuliani sees New York City as the center of the universe and is blinded to the fact that few Republicans share his view of the Big Apple.

I’ve been planning to write this column for weeks, but have hesitated, sensing that I might be more charitable toward the former mayor’s malady after a trip to New York City this past weekend for a Broadway show and concert. Conceivably, after the visit, I’d also succumb to Gothamyopia and overlook my concerns altogether.

The trip had the opposite effect. More than ever I am convinced that Republicans must not allow New Yorker Giuliani to lead our party. It’s not that the city isn’t a wonderful place. It has some magical qualities. The arts and cultural reputation of Manhattan are unparalleled and entirely deserved. And some of the long-suffering people of New York are the best. On Sunday, I witnessed a pre-Sept. 11 parade of family and friends of firefighters taking a long march through the city to the World Trade Center site to commemorate their fallen heroes and wounded warriors. That’s the New York City everyone respects.

But there is another side of Giuliani’s New York that is dark and disturbing. Aside from some ultra-liberal college campuses, there is nowhere in America that so virulently hates Republicans as does New York City. The signs of this loathing are everywhere, and they’re palpable.

For those who doubt, let me recount just a few of the things I saw and experienced in just 72 hours in the city.

I go into a Times Square souvenir ship that specializes in New York-related items. Everything on sale seems to bear the “I (heart shape) New York” logo — that is, every item except one. It’s a stack of mouse pads that have the date of George Bush’s last day in office next year. Now, I would expect something like this is a campy Georgetown shop, but I didn’t expect to see this in a New York souvenir shop.

I had read of the travails of New York’s horse carriage trade and efforts to clean it up, so choosing to do my own investigatory field work, walked up to Central Park to take the traditional 20-minute trip through the park. No sooner than the driver had started the carriage rolling, a well-dressed bicyclist pulls along side the horse and starts shouting authoritatively at my driver. I thought, “Oh no, it’s a cop and I’m about to get waylaid in a horse carriage sting.” But then I heard what the bicyclist was saying. “Will you please collect 40 pounds of horses—t and send it to George Bush and Condoleezza Rice?” The quiet Eastern European-accented driver looked as if he were accustomed to dealing with the madness and just mumbled some affirmation to get our cycling protagonist moving along.

Now, perhaps I was the only Republican verbally assaulted in that manner in Central Park last Sunday, but I suspect not. The taunts are everywhere. Even as I left town Monday morning I saw a huge billboard for a storage company oddly comparing New Yorkers’ crowded closets with the views of Dick Cheney. In New York, if you want to make a negative association, you say something about Cheney. He’s what Stalin was to anti-communists.

Giuliani says we should elect him president of this nation because he ran that city well. But Saddam Hussein maintained order in Baghdad, and we wouldn’t want him or his kind back in power. Similarly, the success and experience that Giuliani accrued in one-of-a-kind New York just doesn’t translate to running the rest of America.

Hill is director of Hill Research Consultants, a Texas-based firm that has polled for GOP candidates and causes since 1988.