Nasty Man was the title of Ed Koch's entertaining screed against former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and the epithet has stuck among Giuliani's critics. Giuliani has never denied that he is a heck of a man, impatient and demanding, and capable of offending others, and New York political reporters certainly have their own opinions of him, but his alllies say his bout with cancer, his personal life travails, 9/11, and simply his aging, have softened him a bit.
As ABC's "The Note" relates this morning, allusions to Giuliani's "nasty side" are now cropping up in the Romney campaign's description of Giuliani. Spokesman Kevin Madden, responding to Giuliani's characterization of Romney as having "a worse record" than everyone else on basically all the issues, said "the mayor's nasty side becomes more apparent as desparation sets in."
The enthymeme: Giuliani is desparate and therefore he is resorting to type -- less, (as Jonathan Martin puts it) disappointed Dad and more pit bill. More nasty.
Is Giuliani nasty? Will Republicans respond to the charge that Giuliani is too mean?
Rivals say the argument for "yes" is that the "nasty" charges remind conservatives that Giuliani is from New York, and they don't like New York. And the sunny optimism that Giuliani projects? A facade. Substantively, there's a lot to play with -- litanies can be found all over, including Koch's.
We are implored to take the full measure of the men and women who are running, and the less salutary humours in Giuliani have yet to be given a full vetting in this race. The blogs are full of examples of what Giuliani's campaign would call his combativeness and his disregard for bullshit, and what his opponents -- generally Democrats -- would call his "nasty" side.
Newsweek begins its biography of Giuliani this week with the tale of his "profanity-laced" pep rally against David Dinkins in 1992.
Here now is a video that just drips Old Giuliani. (Wait until the end).
So far, though, Giuliani has been immune. Republicans haven't seen his "nasty" side. He's been relatively nice at the debates, laughing at the jokes told by his opponents, even the unfunny ones. His fav/unfavs are still very high. He's not nasty, yet.
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