President Trump and Rudy Giuliani, America’s dyspeptic duo, found themselves facing withering criticism as their respective acts as “very stable genius” and the New Roy Cohn grew increasingly thin.
Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from northern Syria, putting at risk our Kurdish allies who have been a bulwark against ISIS terrorists in the area, drew criticism even from some of his staunchest defenders in Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement, “A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.”
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, whose metamorphosis from harsh Trump critic during the 2016 GOP presidential primaries to bellicose acolyte brings to mind the change endured by Gregor Samsa in Kafka’s classic tale, rediscovered his spine long enough to say, “This decision to abandon our Kurdish allies and turn Syria over to Russia, Iran & Turkey will put every radical Islamist on steroids. Shot in the arm to the bad guys. Devastating for the good guys.”
It would be no surprise if the President eventually changes course on an ill-considered decision that also drew fire from his evangelical Christian supporters. But his initial response to the heat was to fire a tweet across the bow of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who some experts believed talked him into the move to open the door for ethnic cleansing of the Kurds. Mr. Trump warned, “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”
It wasn’t clear whether he was deliberately evoking comparisons to “the great and powerful Oz,” but reactions to his self-reference ranged from derisive laughter to unbridled ridicule. Mayor de Blasio Oct. 8 said in response to a reporter’s question about it, “It’s sad. It’s not believable that we’re going through this. There’s no President in history that would have said these things…and if they had, they’d be considered a national embarrassment.”
Mr. Giuliani a day earlier was the target of a New York Times op-ed entitled, “What Happened to Rudy Giuliani?” Its tone wasn’t surprising, given where it appeared, but its author was: Ken Frydman, who served as Mr. Giuliani’s Press Secretary during his 1993 mayoral campaign.
‘Friends and family constantly ask me, ‘Has he lost it? Is he crazy? How could you work for a guy like that?’“ Mr. Frydman wrote. Appearing online a day before he and wife Liz Bruder celebrated their 25th anniversary, the op-ed continued, “At a recent dinner party, a stranger suggested that I’m not legally married because Rudy, a three-time loser at marriage, officiated our wedding.”
Mr. Frydman added, “He wasn’t always like this,” explaining what had made him decide to work in the 1993 campaign—although he didn’t offer any insights as to why, two days after Mr. Giuliani’s victory, he left the campaign to take a private-sector communications job. (Mr. Frydman’s clients over the years have included the Detectives’ Endowment Association.)
He said the former Mayor was now “lamely acting as a shadow secretary of state and Trump enforcer by attempting to influence the 2020 election in favor of his client.”
In trying to answer his own question about where Rudy went wrong, he said former Giuliani aides subscribed to alternative theories: that the death of former best friend and Deputy Mayor Peter Powers in July 2016 was the point at which “Rudy lost his way,” or that the trouble began with his 2003 marriage to “Judi Nathan, his soon-to-be third ex-wife,” which helped transform him from “a pizza and Diet Coke guy” to “a Palm Beach neighbor of Donald Trump.”
Our own theory is Mr. Giuliani just did a bang-up job of fooling those who believed in him for too long.
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