Great Mayor, Lousy President

A reader writes:

Before this campaign season got kicked off I liked Guliani a lot. Everything I read indicated that he was the kind of high-powered loose cannon we needed more of in US politics. In his mayoral days he clearly conducted himself however he felt best without being beholden to others, as so many pols are.

Then I realized that I did not like him as much because he's a megalomaniac. He does not have a really good understanding of how checks and balances work in our republic. He makes people angry for no particular reason aside from his abrasive personality.

These two views are not so very contradictory. A "get stuff done" attitude is great for NYC mayor. Realizing the limits of constitutional authority does not play a role in this job.

Couldn't agree more. I was and remain a big fan of Giuliani as mayor of NYC. I'm not denying the flaws and the nuttiness and the polarization. But anyone who denies the transformation of NYC in his tenure is missing an important moment in urban America. I would have gladly supported him every time he ran. But being mayor in NYC, which means being a flaming asshole and occasional authoritarian are not the skills we need in the presidency right now. He's a hothead and downright dangerous in the White House - both to global stability and to the Constitution. The Conventional wisdom is that any president after Bush will gain a huge boost from world opinion. The only candidate for whom that would not apply, I think, is Giuliani. His diplomatic skills are worse than Cheney's. He cannot even reach non-white New Yorkers, let along the global Muslim opinion we need to win over.