Sixteen hours had passed since the Twin Towers crumbled and fell, and people kept telling Rudy Giuliani to get some rest. The indomitable mayor of New York City had spent the day and night holding his town together. He arrived at the World Trade Center just after the second plane hit, watched human beings drop from the sky and when the south tower imploded nearly got trapped inside his makeshift command center near the site. Then he led a battered platoon of city officials, reporters and civilians north through the blizzard of ash and smoke, and a detective jimmied open the door to a firehouse so the mayor could revive his government there. Giuliani took to the airwaves to calm and reassure his people, made a few hundred rapid-fire decisions about the security and rescue operations, toured hospitals to comfort the families of the missing and made four more visits to the apocalyptic attack scene.
Now, around 2:30 a.m., Giuliani walked into the Upper East Side apartment of Howard Koeppel and his longtime partner, Mark Hsiao. Koeppel, a friend and supporter of Giuliani's, had been lending the mayor a bedroom suite since June, when Giuliani separated from his second wife, Donna Hanover, and moved out of Gracie Mansion. His suit still covered with ash, Giuliani hugged Koeppel, dropped into a chair and turned on the television actually watching the full, ghastly spectacle for the first time. He left the TV on through the night in case the terrorists struck again, and he parked his muddy boots next to the bed in case he needed to head out fast. But he was not going to be doing any sleeping. Lying in bed, with the skyscrapers exploding over and over again on his TV screen, he pulled out a book Churchill, the new biography by Roy Jenkins turned straight to the chapters on World War II and drank in the Prime Minister's words: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.
There is a bright magic at work when one great leader reaches into the past and finds another waiting to guide him. From midmorning on Sept. 11, when Giuliani and fellow New Yorkers were fleeing for their lives, the mayor had been thinking of Churchill. "I was so proud of the people I saw on the street," he says now. "No chaos, but they were frightened and confused, and it seemed to me that they needed to hear from my heart where I thought we were going. I was trying to think, Where can I go for some comparison to this, some lessons about how to handle it? So I started thinking about Churchill, started thinking that we're going to have to rebuild the spirit of the city, and what better example than Churchill and the people of London during the Blitz in 1940, who had to keep up their spirit during this sustained bombing? It was a comforting thought."
With the President out of sight for most of that day, Giuliani became the voice of America. Every time he spoke, millions of people felt a little better. His words were full of grief and iron, inspiring New York to inspire the nation. "Tomorrow New York is going to be here," he said. "And we're going to rebuild, and we're going to be stronger than we were before...I want the people of New York to be an example to the rest of the country, and the rest of the world, that terrorism can't stop us."
Sept. 11 was the day that Giuliani was supposed to begin the inevitable slide toward irrelevancy. It was primary-election day in the city, when people would go to the polls to begin choosing his successor. After two terms, his place in history seemed secure: great mayor, not-so-great guy. The first Republican to run the town in a generation, he had restored New York's spirit, cutting crime by two-thirds, moving 691,000 people off the welfare rolls, boosting property values and incomes in neighborhoods rich and poor, redeveloping great swaths of the city. But great swaths of the city were sick of him. People were tired of his Vesuvian temper and constant battles against his political enemies, against some of his own appointees, against the media and city-funded museums, against black leaders and street vendors and jaywalkers and finally even against his own wife. His marriage to television personality Donna Hanover was a war: ugly headlines, dueling press conferences. Giuliani's girlfriend, a pharmaceutical-sales manager named Judith Nathan, had helped him get through a battle against prostate cancer, and his struggle touched off a wave of concern and appreciation for him. But most New Yorkers seemed ready for Rudy and Judi to leave the stage together and melt into the crowd.
Fate had another idea. When the day of infamy came, Giuliani seized it as if he had been waiting for it all his life, taking on half a dozen critical roles and performing each masterfully. Improvising on the fly, he became America's homeland-security boss, giving calm, informative briefings about the attacks and the extraordinary response. He was the gutsy decision maker, balancing security against symbolism, overruling those who wanted to keep the city buttoned up tight, pushing key institutions from the New York Stock Exchange to Major League Baseball to reopen and prove that New Yorkers were getting on with life. He was the crisis manager, bringing together scores of major players from city, state and federal governments for marathon daily meetings that got everyone working together. And he was the consoler in chief, strong enough to let his voice brim with pain, compassion and love. When he said "the number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear," he showed a side of himself most people had never seen.
Giuliani's performance ensures that he will be remembered as the greatest mayor in the city's history, eclipsing even his hero, Fiorello La Guardia, who guided Gotham through the Great Depression. Giuliani's eloquence under fire has made him a global symbol of healing and defiance. World leaders from Vladimir Putin to Nelson Mandela to Tony Blair have come to New York to tour ground zero by his side. French President Jacques Chirac dubbed him "Rudy the Rock." As Jenkins, author of the biography that inspired Giuliani on the night of Sept. 11, told TIME, "What Giuliani succeeded in doing is what Churchill succeeded in doing in the dreadful summer of 1940: he managed to create an illusion that we were bound to win."
The Glorious Bluff
When he thinks about Churchill's wartime words, Giuliani now says, "I wonder how much of it was bluff." Three months to the day since the towers fell, he is riding with Time in his big tan SUV as it steers through the maze of cement barricades, switchbacks and checkpoints that lead into the heart of ground zero. "A lot of it had to be bluff," he says. "Churchill could not have known England was going to prevail. He hoped it, but there was no way he could know."
He is asked the obvious question: How much of his confidence on Sept. 11 was bluff?
"Some," he says matter-of-factly. "Look, in a crisis you have to be optimistic. When I said the spirit of the city would be stronger, I didn't know that. I just hoped it. There are parts of you that say, Maybe we're not going to get through this." He pauses. "You don't listen to them." He climbs out of the SUV and looks around. "It's still amazing," he says.
From here on West Street, inside the high fences and past the tourist throngs, ground zero looks like a huge, patriotic construction site flags on the cranes, flags on the hard hats, flags on the huge white domes that house the mess hall and the EPA decontamination stalls. But your eye finds the last standing chunk of the north-tower facade (it would be removed in a few days) and the stump of twisted, melted steel that used to be 6 World Trade Center and the pit where corpses are still being recovered, and then the place looks like what it is a mass grave. "This is the most emotional spot for me," Giuliani says, waving a hand in the street, "because this is where I was that morning." He points straight overhead, where the north tower used to be. "I looked up and saw a man jump out above the fire, must have been at least 100 stories and my eye followed him, almost transfixed, all the way down. He hit the top of that building," he says, pointing to what's left of 6 WTC. "Over there" he gestures a few feet down the street "is where the guys had their command post set up." The guys were the fire department's top brass: Chief of Department Pete Ganci, Commissioner Tommy Von Essen, First Deputy Commissioner Bill Feehan and Special Operations Chief Ray Downey. All except Von Essen are now dead. Giuliani takes three quick steps up the street. "I saw Father Judge here." Mychal Judge, the fire department chaplain, was heading toward the towers when he passed Giuliani. "I reached across and grabbed his hand and said what I always said to him, 'Pray for us, Father.' He smiled he always had a big, confident smile and said, 'I always do.' I followed him with my eyes, and he walked right down there." He points to the vanished north tower. Judge was killed by falling debris minutes later, either while administering last rites to a victim or immediately after. "You relive it," Giuliani says now. "You can't help but relive it."
"'Scuse me, Mayor, would you sign my hat?" The workman is extremely big, extremely dirty and just a little bit awestruck. He holds out a scuffed white hard hat, and Giuliani smiles. "I would love to," the mayor says, and by the time he has done so, 10 more guys with 10 more hats are waiting in line. It's like this everywhere Giuliani goes these days. The mayor, who leaves office Jan. 1, draws one long, loud thank-you from the people of his city. "Rudy, way to go!" calls Dwayne Dent, 37, an African-American ironworker. "You're about the greatest mayor ever, ain'tcha?" Giuliani gives him a melancholy smile. It's nice to be loved, but at times the cost is, as he predicted, more than he can bear.
The Old Rudy
"That is a moronic question," Giuliani hisses. "That is an absolutely moronic question." The mayor is standing in the street on a dusty hillside in Gilo, a West Jerusalem enclave where 21 Israelis have been hit by Palestinian mortar and sniper fire in the past 15 months. Giuliani is in Israel to show his support after the spate of suicide bombings and to soak up adulation everywhere he goes but right now he's sniping at a reporter who has just asked him whether he is frightened to be here. "Moronic!" the mayor repeats. The reporter says he has a right to ask the question. "And I have a right to point out that it is an absolutely moronic question!" Giuliani snaps. "If I were scared, I wouldn't be here." He stomps off.
It's good to see the old Rudy again. All the grieving, all the gratitude, all the valedictory warmth that have been showering the mayor cannot obscure his pugilist's heart. The old Rudy resurfaced on Sept. 22, when Giuliani fired a counterterrorism specialist named Jerry Hauer whom he had recruited just eight days earlier because Hauer appeared at a press conference with a Democratic rival. The old Rudy showed up again on Oct. 11, when the mayor returned a $10 million check from Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, who had suggested that America should rethink its support for Israel. And he was seen frequently all that month as Giuliani made a bid to extend his term as mayor and slapped down those who questioned the purity of his motives. If he had found a way to get on the ballot, he would have won in a landslide. That's because Giuliani had saved New York twice: the first time, in the mid-1990s, through sheer toughness asserting control over a crime-ridden city and the second time, after Sept. 11, through a mix of toughness and soul. Each time, he gave the city the part of him it needed.
Giuliani has spent his adult life searching for missions impossible enough to suit his extravagant sense of self. A child of Brooklyn who was raised in a family of fire fighters, cops and criminals five uncles in the uniformed services, an ex-con father and a Mob-connected uncle who ran a loan-sharking operation he chose the path of righteousness and turned his life into a war against evil as he defined it. As a U.S. Attorney in New York during the 1980s, Giuliani was perhaps the most effective prosecutor in the country, locking up Mafia bosses, crooked politicians and Wall Street inside traders, though his vindictiveness and thirst for publicity led to troubling excesses. In 1987, for instance, his men arrested two stockbrokers in their offices, then handcuffed and perp-walked them past the TV cameras; later he quietly dropped the charges against them. But by 1993, when Giuliani made his second run for mayor four years before, he lost to Democrat David Dinkins, the first African American to win the job a tough prosecutor seemed to be just what the city needed. More than a million New Yorkers were on welfare, violent crime and crack cocaine had ravaged whole neighborhoods, and taxes and unemployment were sky-high. The squeegee pest was the city's mascot. The windows of parked cars were adorned with pathetic little signs that told thieves there was NO RADIO left to steal inside. It was fashionable to dismiss the place as ungovernable, and when candidate Giuliani gave speeches decrying that notion, he of course used Churchill to do it. Imagine, Giuliani said, if while the bombs were falling on London during the Battle of Britain, Churchill had said, "You know, this is really beyond our control. We can't do much about this." That, he argued, is what New York's leaders were doing: abdicating in the face of grave threats.
Candidate Giuliani eventually dropped the comparison because it seemed too dramatic, even to him. But after he defeated Dinkins, Mayor Giuliani made good on its implied promise. He did away with New York's traditional politics of soft and ineffectual symbolism empathizing about problems but not fixing them and got to work. His first police commissioner, William Bratton, came on the scene sounding like Churchill too. ("We will fight for every street. We will fight for every borough.") Using computer-mapping techniques to pinpoint crime hot spots, Bratton's N.Y.P.D. reduced serious crime by more than one-third and murder by almost half in just two years. But there was room in town for only one Churchill. Giuliani forced Bratton to resign, in large part because the commissioner hogged too many headlines. Giuliani felt vindicated when crime kept dropping like a stone under the loyalists he chose to succeed Bratton. And the public shocked and delighted that the streets were actually safer and cleaner didn't care how it happened. If Giuliani picked fights big and small, if he purged government of those he deemed insufficiently loyal, so be it. "People didn't elect me to be a conciliator. If they just wanted a nice guy, they would have stayed with Dinkins," Giuliani says now. "They wanted someone who was going to change this place. How do you expect me to change it if I don't fight with somebody? You don't change ingrained human behavior without confrontation, turmoil, anger."
He governed by hammering everyone else into submission, but in areas where that strategy was ineffective, such as reform of the city schools, he failed to make improvements. "The Boss," as his aides call him, inspired extraordinary loyalty and repaid it. He elevated a streetwise N.Y.P.D. detective named Bernard Kerik through the ranks of city government, eventually making him corrections commissioner and then police commissioner. Kerik, who compares entering Giuliani's inner circle to becoming "a made man in a Mafia family," reduced violence by 95% in the city jails and kept crime on the decline in New York this year even as it spiked around the country. "Nobody believed Giuliani had a heart," Kerik says. "He's not supposed to have a heart. He's an animal, he's obnoxious, he's arrogant. But you know what? He gets it done. Behind getting it done, he has a tremendously huge heart, but you're not going to succeed in New York City by being a sweetie. Giuliani has no gray areas good or bad, right or wrong, end of story. That's the way he is. You don't like it, f___ you."
The city's black and Latino leaders did not like it. Focused on enforcing "one standard" for all New Yorkers (and obsessed with marginalizing activists like the Rev. Al Sharpton, whom Giuliani saw as a racial opportunist), Giuliani rarely reached out to any minority leaders. They complained that his aggressive cops were practicing racial profiling, stopping and frisking people because of their race. The Clinton Justice Department investigated the charge and decided not to bring a racial-discrimination case against the N.Y.P.D., but people believed their eyes, not the numbers. And though police shootings declined by 40% under Giuliani, minorities did not find comfort in that because of three awful brutality cases that, for many people, came to define the Giuliani years.
Losing the Peace
In 1997 a haitian man named Abner Louima was sodomized with a mop handle by a cop in a Brooklyn-precinct bathroom. Two years later, an unarmed street peddler named Amadou Diallo was killed when police in the Bronx fired 41 shots at him in a dark vestibule. And a year after that, an unarmed security guard named Patrick Dorismond, who had been trying to hail a cab outside a midtown bar, was shot to death after a scuffle with undercover cops. Giuliani denounced the cops who brutalized Louima but defiantly backed those who killed Diallo and Dorismond. (In those cases, juries cleared the officers of wrongdoing.) After Dorismond was killed, Giuliani's instinct to defend the police led him to attack the unarmed victim; the mayor authorized release of Dorismond's juvenile records to "prove" his propensity for violence. The dead, Giuliani argued, waive their right to privacy. Even old friends and supporters were appalled. The man who had saved New York City saw his job-approval rating drop to 32%.
New York City was getting better, but the mayor seemed to be getting worse. When New York magazine launched an ad campaign calling itself "Possibly the only good thing in New York Rudy hasn't taken credit for," Giuliani had the ads yanked from the sides of city buses. The magazine sued and won. With the criminals on the run, the mayor was again resembling Churchill, a wartime leader too obstreperous to win the peace. Giuliani launched a "civility campaign" against jaywalkers, street vendors and noisy car alarms and a crusade against publicly funded art that offended his moral sensibilities. But the pose seemed hypocritical at best when Giuliani, whose wife had not been seen at City Hall in years, began making the rounds with Judi Nathan, a stylish New Yorker with wide, liquid eyes. The clash between the mayor's lifestyle and his policies became a pop-culture target, deftly skewered by Saturday Night Live comedian Tina Fey. "New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is once again expressing his outrage at an art exhibit, this time at a painting in which Jesus is depicted as a naked woman," Fey deadpanned. "Said the mayor: 'This trash is not the sort of thing that I want to look at when I go to the museum with my mistress.'"
In the spring of 2000, Giuliani was edging toward a political move that he did not appear interested in making: running against Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Senate seat being vacated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. That's when his carefully controlled, highly effective life went off the rails. He had been seeing Nathan since at least the previous year, but now the relationship exploded into the headlines. Donna Hanover later won a court order to prevent Nathan from attending city functions held at Gracie Mansion. Giuliani's divorce lawyer, Raoul Felder, counterattacked, calling Hanover an "uncaring mother" with "twisted motives." One of Giuliani's biographers, Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett, broke the news of Giuliani's father's criminal past. Finally, in April 2000, Giuliani announced that he had received a diagnosis of prostate cancer, the disease that had killed his father. He withdrew from the Senate race and, with his handling of the Diallo and Dorismond cases still fresh in his mind, pledged to devote his remaining 18 months in office to breaking down "some of the barriers that maybe I placed" between him and minority communities. "I don't know exactly how you do that," he said, "but I'm going to try very hard."
The Barriers Fall
In the end it was Giuliani's performance on and after Sept. 11 that broke down those barriers, demonstrating once and for all how much he cared about New Yorkers, even if he had not always been able to show it. After Sept. 11, a good many Rudy watchers assumed he had changed a rigid, self-righteous man had morphed into a big-hearted empath but Giuliani's friends and aides say his warm side has always been there. Outsiders just couldn't see it. Countless times in the past eight years, he has sat at the bedside of an injured or dying cop or fire fighter, gently broken the awful news to the family, even remembered a widow's name years later. The public never saw these moments because the press was not there. Giuliani, so famously thirsty for attention, did away with the custom of holding mayoral press conferences at police funerals; he felt it was unseemly. "I've known him since he was 13. He's a hugger and a kisser. He always has been," says Monsignor Alan Placa, a Long Island cleric who remains one of the mayor's closest friends. "If the story is that he's changed, it's just the wrong story."
The story is how and why he was finally able to show the world what's inside him. It is now customary to say Sept. 11 put life into perspective and swept away the things that don't matter, and that is true for Giuliani. "All those little fights we have," he said six days after the towers fell, "they don't mean anything." That was a startling admission. Those "little fights" had defined his mayoralty. It was both inevitable and a bit sad that it took a disaster of this magnitude to bring out the best in him. Suddenly the whole world saw the New York City police and fire departments the way Giuliani had always seen them. And the whole world saw Giuliani the way only his closest friends had seen him. "I spent my first 7 3/4 years as mayor living out my father's advice that it's better to be respected than loved," he says. "But I had forgotten the last part of what he used to say: 'Eventually, you will love me.'"
The mayor has aged in the past year, but it suits him. His hair is grayer, thinner but still defiantly combed over. Small oval eyeglasses have softened his look; cancer and exploding skyscrapers have softened it more. "The whole experience continues to be very strange," he says one afternoon in his office at City Hall, where he is packing up eight years' worth of files, photos, baseball bats and Yankees caps, "because it is very personal, but it's also part of my public duty as mayor to deal with it."
On Sept. 11, he had been at his makeshift command post in the Engine 24 firehouse just a few minutes when his executive assistant of 18 years, Beth Petrone-Hatton, walked in. In 1998 the mayor officiated at her wedding to Terry Hatton, a dashing Rescue 1 captain who had become part of Giuliani's extended family at City Hall. Now Giuliani asked her, "Terry was working?"
"Yes, he's gone."
Giuliani tried to say it was too soon to know, but she cut him off. "He's gone," she repeated. Then she got to work, organizing Giuliani's situation at the firehouse. People were scared to look her in the eye, but the ones who did saw depths of pain and strength they won't soon forget. Petrone-Hatton saw the same thing in her boss. "He was probably the most 'on' I have ever seen him," she says. "On the one hand, he was devastated, destroyed. He knew he'd lost a lot of friends. But he also knew he had to calm the city down." He started by getting solid information out, and then he went to inspiration. "It was so well orchestrated that you would have thought he had prepared for it forever," Petrone-Hatton says.
In a sense, he had. In the next few days and weeks, Giuliani worked around the clock to pull his city back together, yet he found time for Petrone-Hatton. While managing everything from the logistics of the recovery effort to the symbolism of mass mourning to the reopening of the New York Stock Exchange when others were still worried that the market would tank, Giuliani took the time to track down Hatton's dental records and to go to his firehouse to pick up his razor for a DNA sample. Eulogizing Hatton, Giuliani described him as "the kind of man I would like my son to grow up and become." On Sept. 21, when Petrone-Hatton got the unexpected news that she was pregnant, she made three phone calls to Hatton's parents, to her parents and to Giuliani. "There's something miraculous," she told him. "I'm having a baby." The mayor started "hooting and howling," she says. "That's the best news I've had," he told her.
A week later, Petrone-Hatton was at her doctor's office listening to the baby's heartbeat for the first time, when the mayor summoned her. She was driven to the rectory at St. Patrick's Cathedral, where Giuliani was attending a memorial service. He sat with her and gently told her that Hatton's remains had been found. She said she wanted to be taken to them right away. "I've already been," Giuliani said. He had identified Hatton so his friend would not have to. "You don't want to see him like this," he said.
Agents of Change
People ask, 'have you changed a lot since 9/11?'" Giuliani says. "Actually, I changed more from the prostate cancer. Having to deal with that had a bigger impact and, I think, gave me more wisdom about the importance of life, the lack of control you have over death. It removed some of the fear of death."
His cancer treatment consumed the last six months of 2000. After intense study and consultation with immeasurable help from Nathan, a trained nurse in her mid-40s Giuliani chose a course of treatment involving radioactive-seed implantation and radiation rather than surgery. Just hours after the implantation operation on Sept. 19, 2000, Giuliani held a press conference. The next day he marched in a parade. But two weeks later, he felt "as bad as I had ever felt" the seeds were starting to work. In November he began six weeks of daily external radiation treatments, and they turned out to be "very, very tough weeks" full of nausea, hot flashes, exhaustion. He concealed his condition as best he could, though he sometimes had to excuse himself from meetings or leave the podium during a press conference. And most days he took a long nap.
Nathan, who is divorced and has a teenage daughter, was at his side through it all. Giuliani says he "had all kinds of questions about the cancer are you getting better, are these good symptoms or bad symptoms? and Judith did all the research. Looked it all up. Talked to the doctors. Helped me through it." Nathan recently became managing director of a philanthropic consulting firm called Changing Our World Inc., and she moves easily in Giuliani's supercharged universe. Bump into her late at night in the galley of Donald Trump's private 727, which is carrying the mayor and his entourage to Israel, and she waves a cup of coffee and jokes that a need for caffeine is "one of the many things cops and nurses have in common."
With Donna Hanover and Giuliani's two children, Caroline, 12, and Andrew, 15, still living in Gracie Mansion, Nathan has been functioning as a kind of shadow First Lady attending memorial services but not sitting with the mayor; keeping a low public profile while playing a significant role behind the scenes. She helped organize construction of the Family Center on Pier 94 in New York, leading 3,000 volunteers who, in just 36 hours, turned 125,000 sq. ft. of raw space into what she calls "a warm place where the survivors could grieve in dignity and get the help they needed."
Giuliani is now cancer free, and Nathan believes that God spared him so he would be able to lead on Sept. 11. The timing of his ordeals also makes the mayor think about God's hand. Had the terrorists struck one year earlier, "when I was going through daily radiation, I couldn't have done it." Had he not had the cancer, he probably would have stayed in the Senate race and might have won and thus would not have been on the scene to help his city get through the crisis. And if not for the cancer, he says, "I would have dealt with Sept. 11 effectively, but not as effectively. I would not have been as peaceful about it."
Yet Giuliani still wrestles mightily with his faith, with the question of whether events happen randomly or according to a divine plan. "I'm not sure. I'm not sure. I really admire the widows who have this perfect, simple religious faith. I go back and forth about it. Sometimes I resolve it as destiny it just happens, you have no control over it, there's no reason to get too afraid of it because you have to go ahead and do what you have to do. And then sometimes I have this feeling that it is part of God's plan, allowing us to work out who we are as human beings. He gives people the room to make choices like the ones the heroes made, the people that saved other people, or the evil choices that were also made."
He won't say he was "chosen" to lead the city at this moment. "Whatever my belief in God, I don't believe he enters into politics," he says. But the more he thinks about it, the more he accepts that "there must be some plan in all of it. Philosophically and theologically, the way I look at all of this is that if there are things beyond human rationality, then we're only going to have little glimpses of it. And as for my own personal odyssey, it worked out better for me and better for the city that all those things happened."
Monsignor Placa sums up the changes in his friend this way: "The cancer made him face his mortality. Sept. 11 made him face his immortality." Together the two pushed him to recognize that history forgets the petty fights but not the acts of true leadership and that he should do the same. "I think Rudy's gotten the idea that what he does will either be part of the triviality that will be forgotten or else it will become part of the story of how a great people were able to deal with this."
Giuliani has attended close to 200 funerals, services and wakes for police officers, fire fighters and emergency workers who died on Sept. 11, and each time he has offered a variation on the theme that "what could have destroyed us made us stronger," thanks to the heroes "who turned the worst attack on American soil into the most successful rescue operation in American history," with perhaps 20,000 civilian lives saved. At the police funerals, he points out that Sept. 11 succeeded in silencing the N.Y.P.D.'s critics and laments that it cost so many lives to do so. Giuliani had hoped to attend services for all 23 cops and 343 fire fighters lost that day, but that was impossible. He had felt that attending the services might help the survivors, show them how much the city honored their loss. He hadn't realized how much the funerals would help him.
Consoler in Chief
It was on the night of Sept. 23 that Giuliani figured out how important the funerals were to him. That afternoon 20,000 gathered for a prayer service at Yankee Stadium, the first major public event after the attack and another huge security challenge for his police force. Giuliani found the service enormously draining. He had barely slept since the 11th he needs only three or four hours a night but wasn't getting even that and it was catching up with him. He spoke briefly, but mostly he sat near second base, looking into the sea of grieving faces the families of the dead and missing cops and fire fighters who filled the infield, sobbing and clutching photographs of their lost loved ones. He had met many of them at the Family Center or during gatherings over the past 12 days, so "in some cases I could put them together with a name," he recalls. "In some cases I couldn't but remembered the faces. And listening to the beautiful music and the religious leaders, and Bette Midler singing the hero song [Wind Beneath My Wings], I just lost it."
When it was over, he was supposed to take a helicopter to a funeral service in Far Rockaway, out at the end of Queens. But he was a wreck, so Nathan and others urged him to take the night off. Instead, he decided to ride his SUV to Rockaway, catnap in the backseat, "and if I'm still too tired, I'll head home." As the SUV entered Rockaway after a 45-minute ride, the mayor was still exhausted. "I was sort of waking up," he says. "I said to myself, 'I shouldn't have come. I don't have the energy to do this.'" But he pulled himself out of the SUV anyway. "Suddenly it felt like I was in heaven," he says. "There were all these people in the field, hundreds of people, and they're all holding candles. Many of them I knew because I've spent a lot of time in Rockaway. And I was looking at them they're such beautiful people, such strong, strong people and I realized that Rockaway had been hit hard lots of police officers, fire fighters and workers in the financial community, from executives to secretaries and stock boys. When I gave my talk, I said, 'I was very tired when I got here, but I have a great deal of energy now because of you.' I realized that one of the ways I could get through this is by going to services. They make me feel useful. They're heartbreaking but inspirational. I see the families and think, If they can do it, you can do it."
The next morning he was back in Rockaway, at the very same church, for the first of five more funerals that day. He attended eight more services there and then on the morning of Nov. 12 he was there again, when American Flight 587 crashed into the neighborhood, killing 265 people. Wherever he went, Giuliani took to leading each congregation in a whooping, foot-stomping ovation for its fallen hero. And his eulogies though largely unrecorded because he does not tell the press which services he plans to attend became an ever evolving meditation on the nature of honor, courage, sacrifice and loss.
"I would like to say just a word to the children," the mayor tells the congregation at St. William the Abbot Catholic Church, an hour outside the city, in Seaford, N.Y., the kind of modest, comfortable Long Island suburb that was home to so many of the cops and fire fighters who died on Sept. 11. Giuliani has come to Seaford to praise Sgt. Timothy Roy, 36, a fun-loving, playfully boastful cop who was off duty on Sept. 11 but heard that a plane had struck the Trade Center, raced to the site and was last seen helping people escape from the south tower, the first to collapse. This morning Giuliani has reshuffled his schedule moving his tour of ground zero with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon so he can be here. Like Rudy, Timmy Roy came from a family of cops and fire fighters, and Giuliani wants to honor that. But now he has a message for Roy's three children, a message he sends to the children of dead heroes at every service he attends.
"Nobody can take your father from you," he says. "He is part of you. He helped make you. He and your mom are an integral part of who you are. All the wonderful things that everybody...for the rest of your life tells you about your dad, about how brave he was, what a decent man he was, how strong he was, how sensitive he was to the needs of people all those things are inside you. They're all part of you. People will say the same things about you 10, 15, 20, 25 years from now." The whole place is weeping, riding the mayor's words as he brings the message home. "I can just see it in your family. This is a great family. He's with you nobody can take him away from you. You have something lots of children don't have. You have the absolute, certain knowledge that your dad was a great man."
Father and Son
By conventional standards, Harold Giuliani was not a great man. In 1934, at age 26, he was arrested for robbing a milkman at gunpoint in the vestibule of a Manhattan apartment building. A court-appointed psychiatrist diagnosed him as an "aggressive, egocentric type." He served a year and a half, then went to work as a bartender and enforcer for his brother-in-law Leo D'Avanzo's loan-sharking operation, according to court documents and eyewitness accounts uncovered by Giuliani biographer Barrett. In 1944, Harold's wife Helen, a smart, serious-minded woman (still living but suffering from senility), gave birth to Rudy, their only child.
Giuliani says he knew only a little of his father's history. "I knew parts of it, but it was always a big secret and very shadowy. I knew he had gotten into trouble as a young man, but I never knew exactly what it was" until Barrett broke the story in 2000. "As I found out more about what his history was and what he had done," he says, emotion swamping his syntax, "having been his son, the way he brought me up, I have this tremendous respect for him."
Bad guy, good dad Harold Giuliani did everything he could to ensure that his son didn't end up the way he did. "I'd like to find a better way to describe it, but I have to do it in psychological terms," Giuliani says. "My father compensated through me. In a very exaggerated way, he made sure that I didn't repeat his mistakes in my life which I thank him for, because it worked out." To separate his boy from the outlaw wing of the family, Harold moved his family from Brooklyn to the Long Island community of Garden City, N.Y., when Rudy was seven. "He would say over and over, 'You can't take anything that's not yours. You can't steal. Never lie, never steal.' As a child and even as a young adult, I thought, What does he keep doing this for? I'm not going to steal anything."
Harold had a good head for figures and did tax returns for people in the family. "He'd make out returns until 3 or 4 in the morning," Giuliani says, "and I'd ask him, 'Don't you hate doing this?' He would give me this long lecture: 'It's a great privilege to pay your taxes, and you should overpay your taxes' which I do, actually 'and just think of all those people who would like to come to America just to have the privilege to pay taxes. Better pay every single penny of them. And better make sure you don't take anything that doesn't belong to you.' As I got older, I started to realize what it was about. It was extremely conscious, well thought out. And very overdone."
Giuliani's closest friends from those days, Placa and Peter Powers, who went on to become Giuliani's campaign manager and first deputy mayor, both say they had no idea about the criminal ties. "His parents brought him up with strong values," says Powers. "The dinner-table talk with his aunts and uncles was always heated politics his Uncle Rudy and I were Goldwater conservatives, and the rest were liberals. Rudy was a Kennedy Democrat."
"From the time I was very young, bravery and courage inspired me," Giuliani says. "My father had great physical courage. He had been a boxer. I read John Kennedy's Profiles in Courage when I was young. My Uncle Rudy, my father's youngest brother, was a police officer for 24 years. My mother's second youngest brother, Edward, was a captain in the fire department, decorated four or five times. She had three other brothers who were police officers. So I grew up with uniforms all around me and their stories of heroism." But once past the age of eight, Giuliani never thought about becoming a cop. "I wanted to be a priest, I wanted to be a doctor, I wanted to be an Air Force pilot." He was a chubby kid. He didn't get the best grades. But he was an organizer, a class politician, shrewd from an early age. "Giuliani was always around, always leading something, always looking ahead," says Powers. He developed an abiding interest in opera getting Placa and Powers to form a club and travel into Manhattan for performances of the Metropolitan Opera but he couldn't sing.
He got into law enforcement "kind of as an afterthought," he says. After earning a degree at Manhattan College, he and Powers enrolled together at New York University School of Law, and Giuliani ended up as a clerk to federal judge Lloyd MacMahon. The judge encouraged him to join the U.S. Attorney's office, and in 1970 Giuliani took his advice. Giuliani's ascent began in earnest three years after he arrived when, at 29, he was put in charge of the police-corruption cases springing from the Knapp Commission, an era romanticized in the book and movie Prince of the City. He did a stint in private practice and went to Washington for three years as the No. 3 man in Ronald Reagan's Justice Department. (All told, he has spent nine years of his career practicing law outside government.) In 1983 Giuliani was named U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. By then his father had withered and died, a victim of prostate cancer. The last conversation Giuliani had with his father, he says, "was about courage and fear. I said to him, 'Were you ever afraid of anything?' He said to me, 'Always.' He said, 'Courage is being afraid but then doing what you have to do anyway.'"
The Real World
Giuliani's life reflected his dying father's words. Though the mayor's friend Peter Powers thinks Giuliani "was born without a fear gene," Rudy says it isn't so. On Sept. 11, when the first tower collapsed and he and his aides were stuck inside a building near the site, "there were times I was afraid. Everybody was. But the concentration was on. If I don't do what I have to do, everything falls apart." They tried to escape through the basement, but the doors were locked. "That's when I kept saying to myself, You've got to keep your head, and you've just got to keep thinking, What's the most sensible thing to do next? Something I learned a long time ago, also from my father, is that the more emotional things get, the calmer you have to become to figure your way out. Those things have become a matter of instinct for me at 57 years old. I didn't have to invent them."
When Giuliani hears people talking about how Americans have been living in "a different world" since Sept. 11, he disagrees. "We're not in a different world," he says. "It's the same world as before, except now we understand it better. The threat and danger were there, but now we recognize it. So it's probably a safer world now."
Giuliani understood the danger earlier than most. "I assumed from the time I came into office that New York City would be the subject of a terrorist attack," he says. The World Trade Center was bombed by Muslim terrorists in 1993, before he became mayor, and while most New Yorkers pushed the memory aside, Giuliani did not. To ease the long-standing disaster-scene turf battles between fire and police, he created the Office of Emergency Management and built a $13 million emergency command center on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center, a mid-size building in the complex. The place was ridiculed as "Rudy's bunker." (Only the location was a mistake; on Sept. 11 the bunker had to be evacuated, and the entire building collapsed.) He beefed up security and restricted access around City Hall, brushing aside those who charged that he was stifling the democratic right to free assembly. He and his staff held drills playing out 10 disaster scenarios, from anthrax attacks to truck bombs to poison-gas releases.
He didn't foresee terrorists flying airliners into office towers, but the constant drilling ensured that when it happened, everyone in city government knew how to respond. "We used to make fun of those drills," says chief of staff Tony Carbonetti, "but I think they saved lives." In the weeks after Sept. 11 but before spores started getting mailed to media targets around Manhattan Giuliani convened meetings with the Centers for Disease Control and the fbi to discuss the threat of anthrax. As a result, he knew more about anthrax than Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. While Ridge and Thompson contradicted each other and downplayed the lethal nature of the spores, Giuliani treated the public like grownups, offering unvarnished information and never having to backtrack. When he told people not to panic, they didn't.
Giuliani had his own issues with the Federal Government. The FBI was stingy with intelligence and slow to test for anthrax in the city. By late October, five New Yorkers had been infected with anthrax and one was dying. And on Monday, Oct. 29, the day before Giuliani's beloved Yankees were set to play Game 3 of the World Series at their stadium in the Bronx, Ridge and Attorney General John Ashcroft alerted the public to one of their "credible but unspecified" threats and advised local law enforcement to be on the highest level of alert. Giuliani phoned Ridge and asked what he was supposed to do with this warning. "Tom, the city is already on the very highest state of alert," he said. "The lampposts are on alert. I've got the World Series tomorrow night. I've got the President coming to throw out the first pitch. I've got 30,000 people running in the marathon on Sunday, with 2 million watching. Are you telling me to close the airports? Cancel the series? Tell the President not to come?" Ridge said he would call back. When he did, he told Giuliani to go ahead with all his plans.
Twelve hundred police officers and two F-14 jet fighters secured Yankee Stadium when Bush threw out the first pitch. Giuliani and his aides debated briefly whether to postpone the marathon, but he decided not to. "The city has to be open for business," he told the police commissioner. As the World Series continued, Giuliani commuted to Arizona for the away games, then raced back to his city. On Saturday, Nov. 3, he was in Phoenix, rooting hard in the ninth inning of Game 6 with the Yankees losing, when aides interrupted him. Anthrax spores had been found inside City Hall. It turned out to be a minor contamination, and the mayor wasn't going to let anything not anthrax, not even the Yankees' loss interfere with his determinedly good mood. He flew through the night, arriving home in time to cheer for the marathon winner. Nothing blew up.
Today, as the weeks pass without further attacks and people start to relax, Giuliani has remained on alert. "I think we have to assume that in both cases the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the anthrax, which may be either terrorists or nuts we're not finished with them. We have to assume that they are going to do other things."
A Man in Full
Most New York Mayors leave office defeated and embittered by the demands of running the city. But when Giuliani hands over the reins to billionaire Mike Bloomberg at a ceremony planned for Times Square just after midnight on Jan. 1, he will leave at the peak of his popularity. He changed the outcome of the race to succeed him, ensuring Bloomberg's victory simply by making a TV ad endorsing him. In one sense, his mayoralty ends as it began, with the economy in recession and his aides negotiating painful budget cuts with the city council. The city's schools are little better than he found them, and cops are again rousting the homeless from Fifth Avenue. But so much else has changed that Giuliani has vaulted into the ranks of world leaders. He ignites adulation in the streets of Jerusalem. His Blackberry pager pulls in an e-mail message from the Queen of England, who is available in February to knight him. He has a $3 million, two-book deal. The networks are dangling offers. He will command six-figure speaking fees and open a consulting company with some of his aides (Rudy would not be happy working for someone). His divorce will soon be final, and some of his friends think he and Nathan will get married, but he won't confirm that. He does look forward to spending more time with his children, though even in the midst of post-9/11 recovery he managed to attend eight of Andrew's nine high-school football games as well as see Caroline's school play and take her on a private tour of ground zero. "She wanted to see it," he says. "She was upset but not overwrought. It's my job to do for my kids what my father did for me try to help them figure out how to deal with fear. How to live life, even though you are afraid."
As long as Giuliani remains healthy, his friends believe, he will sooner or later make his next move and run for higher office. He is keeping his political-action committee up and running, and he will wait for his opening. At 57, he has time. He doesn't want to be Homeland Security boss or run for Governor against fellow Republican George Pataki, but he has always had half-concealed presidential dreams, and it's easy to imagine him trying for the Senate (in New York or New Jersey) or even serving as George W. Bush's running mate if Dick Cheney chooses not to go again. "You never know what you would do if a President asked you," he says. Bush almost surely won't ask he prizes long-tested loyalty as much as Giuliani does but if he did, the mayor would listen. "That's further in the future, which might make a difference. But right now I'm not looking for anything. Even before Sept. 11, I was looking forward to some private time. I need to take a break, reflect on everything that's happened. I haven't had enough time to think about any of this. I could use a vacation."
His last one was 40 minutes long.
It was the night of Sept. 13, and Giuliani was at the police academy command post, where he had been around-the-clock for three days. The 72-hr. wave of adrenaline was wearing off, and he was feeling the strain. The President would be arriving in the morning for his first trip to ground zero. The city was still pretty well closed down. And the casualties were, as Giuliani had predicted, more than anyone could bear. Nobody had been pulled alive from the site since the first night, and the city medical examiner, Dr. Charles Hirsch, was telling him that additional rescues were extremely unlikely. Hirsch cited examples from earthquakes around the world to make the point. Giuliani wasn't ready to abandon hope. "These are New Yorkers," he said. "Give 'em another week."
Nathan could see he was near the end of his rope. (She hadn't realized his rope had an end, but here it was.) They retreated to his tiny office a nook she had commandeered for him near the coffee lounge. "You need a moment," she told him.
"I probably need a couple," he said.
"Why don't you go for a walk?"
"I can't do that. How can I?"
Nathan showed him how. She knew the deputy mayors would be hovering outside, so she got his security detail to sneak Rudy out the back door of the office, slip him down the fire escape and into the SUV, and drive him off. Nathan stayed behind. "I wanted him to go alone, to be with his thoughts for a little bit," she says. The deputies burst into the room. "Where is he?"
"He went for a walk."
"What? Where?" They were ready to chase him down the street, but he was gone.
When his SUV had made it a block from the command post, Giuliani told the driver to pull over. He got out on First Avenue and walked through Peter Cooper Village, an old brick apartment complex full of middle-class teachers, nurses, cops and office workers his people. He asked his security team to hang back so he could walk alone. People saw him and did double takes. Some approached quietly, hesitantly; every New Yorker feels entitled to fill the mayor's ear, but not this night. This night they offered him a quick hug or a few soft words of thanks and let him walk on alone. He headed east, through a tunnel under the F.D.R. Drive, toward the East River. "I wanted to look at it," he says. "I wanted to look at the river. It was still there." He turned from the dark water and stared up at the lights. "I looked at the skyline," he says. "It was still there." Then he walked back to work.