In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan wrote a column about the Republican presidential candidates. John McCain is looking stronger and stronger she points out (never mind that he puts his foot in his mouth every time he opens it -- or strolls outside for a photo op) and Rudy Giuliani, well, he's Italian-American after all, so let's just make fun of him.
Here's Noonan's take on a recent speech Giuliani made in California:
Here was Rudy Giuliani this week in a speech in California. No one much noted it -- he was lucky it was subsumed by the Imus wave. But this is how Mr. Giuliani opened a speech to citizens considering his candidacy for the American presidency. "Thank youse all very much for invitin' me here tuh-day, to this meeting of the families from different parts'a California."
He was imitating Marlon Brando in "The Godfather." (The rendering comes from a Newsday report.) Actually the character of Don Corleone, as drawn by Mario Puzo, was possessed of a certain verbal elegance, but never mind. Mr. Giuliani's imitation was clear enough to inspire in the audience a smattering of applause and, apparently, laughter.
Earlier in the week, in reaction to a spate of critical stories about his wife, Judith, he asked reporters to leave her alone: "I am a candidate. She's a civilian, to use the old Mafia distinction."
Ah. Can't have enough candidates for president who whimsically employ the language of mobsters.
Giuliani was trying to add a little levity to a political speech. We all know how dull they can be. So he decided to trade on the one thing that makes him stand out from the other candidates -- he's Italian-American. It's not a crime. So he used some mob references as a joke. Big deal.
Now, I'm no Rudy fan. He was my mayor when I lived in Brooklyn. I covered his mayoral campaign for some local newspapers and I covered a part of his mayoralty for them. I have seen what he can do "up close and personal."
Still, making fun of him because he's Italian-American is low. It is uncalled for. The man was making a joke. But Noonan was making it personal. Apparently Republicans can't handle comedy.
Or then again, maybe they can. How else do you explain George W. Bush?