The best one-liner of the Republican debate was surely Tom Tancredo’s jab about believing conversions “on the road to Damascus, not the road to Des Moines.” It must have hit too close to home for conservative pundits who declared the winner to be Mike Huckabee, who said Congress spent money like John Edwards in a salon.
There were many conversions in evidence that night. McCain changed his mind on immigration; Romney changed his mind on… everything; and Huckabee’s governorship of Arkansas made Congress look like Dick Cheney in a hair salon by comparison. Yet the most spectacular conversion was Rudy Giuliani’s transformation to terror warrior. From his performance you would never believe this is a man who, as Mayor of New York, embraced indiscriminate killers.
Most of my family came from Northern Ireland to England before I was born. I grew up in Manchester in the midst of the IRA’s murderous bombing campaign. In the '90s the city was gutted by one such bomb. Then, as now, Giuliani was a politician on the make but that was before 9/11 made him “America’s Mayor”. He desperately needed to be more popular and tapping Irish-American sympathy for the IRA was a way to do it. You think Giuliani would embrace the man who led a brutal terror campaign against one of America’s closest allies just to advance his career? You bet. Rudy is a political hack who saw a bandwagon and jumped right on.
A quick Google search easily finds evidence of the Mayor’s fondness for mass murderers. Take this article from the New York Times from Sept. 29 1994 entitled "At City Hall, an I.R.A. Leader Gets a Warm Reception." The IRA is a brutal Marxist terror group with links to Columbia’s FARC. Yet New York officials described the organisation’s leader, Gerry Adams, as a “harbinger of peace” and “a civil rights activist”. Imagine if someone were to describe Osama bin Laden as civil rights activist. The remade Rudy would probably blow a fuse but the old Rudy didn’t seem to mind; he had polls to think about [all bold added].
A relatively small lunch-hour crowd of a few hundred cheered him, but the domestic political value of Mr. Adams’s official turnabout was demonstrated by the throng of local politicians who crowded about Mr. Adams. They pressed him to accept three different government proclamations, the Crystal Apple award extended by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani to ranking foreign dignitaries, and a private New York Police Department boat tour of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
The man who nowadays denounces anyone who even listens to terrorists, used to treat them as “foreign dignitaries”.
“I think President Clinton should greet [Adams]” declared the Mayor, joining the Irish visitor's own campaign for the Clinton Administration to honor him with a personal White House visit, which would add to the pressure on London for peace talks open to leaders of Northern Ireland's militant republican movement.
Not only did Rudy support negotiating with terrorists; he wanted the White House to strengthen one’s position. Yet even that wasn’t enough. Giuliani had prosecuted IRA partisans as a US Attorney. Of course he was only trying to advance his career, but a new career required a new position.
The Irish group was particularly delighted to hear Mr. Giuliani talk of the North's suffering under an "outside occupation force"
I remember shortly after 9/11, before Giuliani’s transformation to terror warrior was complete, he met with Adams again. The event had been quietly changed from an IRA/Sinn Fein fundraiser to a 9/11 victims benefit. Rudy was careful not be photographed next to his old comrade. Later that year Adams visited another old friend, Fidel Castro.
Giuliani was quick to remake himself as the man who was mayor on 9/11. Don’t forget that he was also the mayor who broke bread with a brutal killer.