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It is a warped, warped universe that former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani occupies.

In the estimation of the man branded, rather too eagerly, “America’s Mayor” in the wake of 9/11, Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees infielder who has admitted to using steroids, is “a really good man” and “one of the greatest players ever.”

Giuliani – he of the disastrous lurch to the right in a hopeless quest for the presidency – said as much when a TMZ reporter accosted him.

"I was one of the first to say that Yankee fans should not boo A-Rod. He's on our team. You gotta root for him. I think he's one of the greatest players ever," Giuliani explained, adding, “I happen to know him personally.” As if knowing Giuliani were an imprimatur of heroism.

Ah, that’s the Rudy that New Yorkers remember: not all that concerned with nuance, a little too in love with the limelight, placing machismo above honesty – and loyalty (“He’s on our team. You gotta root for him.”) above everything else. Hard to believe that the same Giuliani defending A-Rod, however casually, was the same one who went fearlessly after the mafia in the 1980s as an attorney general. Now, he’s chiding New Yorkers for booing – rightly – a steroid user and liar. One who isn’t even very good at baseball anymore. And who is facing near-certain suspension from baseball for his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Giuliani's wholehearted endorsement of a disgraced figure should be no surprise to anyone who has followed the trajectory of his post-mayoral career. Last year, an article in The New Republic detailed Giuliani’s questionable consulting activities, which included shilling for a Serbian war criminal:

The former mayor’s activities have troubled some of his long-time aides. “It’s totally mercenary,” says a confidant from his City Hall days. “It’s all about money.” That impression has been compounded by his growing presence on the Hamptons–Palm Beach–Upper East Side social circuit. Society magazines and blogs regularly feature Giuliani and his wife, Judith, mixing at galas with the likes of Tinsley Mortimer, Patricia Duff, and Countess Nathalie von Bismarck. Much of Giuliani Land is appalled. “These are people he wouldn’t even talk to,” says the former aide. “He wouldn’t look at them.” Says another, “It’s not the Rudy Giuliani we once knew.”

Or maybe it’s been exactly the same Rudy all along. Back in 2000, after undercover police offers shot and killed security guard Patrick Dorismond, Giuliani essentially excused the murder by saying that the dead man “was no altar boy.” Contrast that with his praise of Rodriguez, and you have the portrait of a man in decline.

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