Every regime requires a court jester, a fool whose foolishness is such that it distracts, even for a moment, from the damage the dictator is doing. The Trump Administration is chock full of these characters, many of whom left the administration’s orbit after realizing, finally, that being associated with Trump for any longer than is necessary was a form of career suicide. This realization has not yet hit Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s number one fan, who has been and will be by his side until the end of time.
In attempting to figure out what it is that Giuliani is responsible for during Trump’s time in office, I had to first figure out what Giuliani’s job actually was. Like many of the shadowy, spittle-flecked men in bad suits that surrounded Trump, Giuliani’s job was intentionally ill-defined. Officially, he was Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, and was hired to be a special advisor in cyber-security, an area that Giuliani knows little about. His nebulous position was unpaid, which means that Giuliani was not subject to the financial scrutiny that other members of the administration were. No one was checking for Rudy, but really, it seems like somebody should’ve tried.
Over the course of Trump’s presidency, Rudy proved his worth by appearing on any television program or radio show that would have him, using the opportunity to speak freely about conversations between him and the President that, most likely, should’ve stayed quiet. Think back to the winter of 2017, when Donald Trump first showed us how dangerous he was going to be by instituting a ban on immigration for four months, targeting those coming from Muslim countries, specifically. It seems that Trump actually wanted to just ban Muslims, but knew that he couldn’t do that explicitly. Thankfully he had Rudy on his side for some help!
“I’ll tell you the whole history of it: When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban,’” Guliani told Jeanine Piro in an appearance Fox News, before launching into an explanation, largely unprompted, about how he guided the president into executing his plan legally.
While this behavior may shock some who are unfamiliar with Giuliani’s previous work, I urge everyone to reach back and remember 9/11, a terrible time in our nation’s history. Giuliani, then mayor of New York, got an awful lot of praise for walking around the rubble, relying on his bumbling, beaver-toothed, outer-borough charm to trick the American people into thinking he was remotely good at his job.
His racism— of the standard garden-variety racism, nothing on the ideological level of Stephen Miller or Steve Bannon—led him to tell CNN in 2015 that in the days after the towers fell, there were “pockets” of celebrations around the city. The implication of this tidy bit of fake news was, of course, to stir up xenophobia and enact a quiet campaign of fear and mistrust around brown New Yorkers, painting them as the enemy. This anecdote explains why Giuliani and Trump are two miserable peas in a pod—New Yorkers from “humble” beginnings who have ridden the gravy train of being pleasantly noxious in the public eye to the top.
Really, everything Giuliani has said or done over the past four years is nothing more than a liability. But be wary of treating Rudy’s actions as mere distractions or comedic relief. Though the man lacks the self-awareness required to simply appear on television without dripping hair dye down the side of his face, his antics are a cover for the damage the administration did behind the scenes.
Watching Giuliani learn the results of the election at a press conference outside of Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia, booked instead of the actual Four Seasons in a pitch-perfect mistake, seemed like it would be fitting punishment for a man who spends most of his time mucking about in the mess of his own creation. Though he lacks the same keening desire for acceptance that Trump has, fading out of the spotlight isn’t the sort of punishment that will net any real damage. But no one likes to be made a fool. Rudy’s eternal burden to carry will be that he can’t help it.
Update: Thought Trump often likes to make jobs that make no sense in his administration, Rudy Giuliani was hired to be a cyber-security specialist. Jezebel regrets the error.