Remembering When Rudy Giuliani Was America's Mayor

As Twitter exploded last night with talk about this extraordinary New York Times Op-Ed detailing how "The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001," The Washington Post's Dan Eggen tweeted at TNR's Alec MacGillis a reminder of Rudy Giuliani's #headdesking statement on Jan. 8, 2010: "We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We've had one under Obama."

That got me thinking about the old Rudy G., in his "America's Mayor" incarnation, when his steady leadership of a grieving, rattled city made him a hero to New Yorkers -- and the nation. I was too busy working on 9/11 -- standing around at the edge of Lafayette Square in D.C. with a bunch of evacuated White House staffers and members of the press, waiting for something to happen, then running down rumors of attack sites within the city while smoke rose in the distance from the Pentagon hit -- to see Giuliani's news conferences or much television that day. And in that pre-YouTube era, what you missed on live TV was pretty much gone unless someone replayed it. But his earliest remarks are all on YouTube now, and show his extraordinary steadiness on that day. Worth a watch if you have the time.

9:50 a.m., Sept. 11, 2001:

2:38 p.m.

Full afternoon news conference, part 1:

Part 2:

10 p.m.

There are some people who have personalities that make them shine during tough times, but who are too tough for softer ones. New York was lucky it had one of them at the helm when it needed it most.

Presented by

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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