America’s influence peddler mayor

It’s 2008, the Iowa caucuses are tomorrow, so it’s time for… another Rudy Giuliani scandal. In this case, for a change (and I do mean for a change) there appears to be no crime actually committed by Rudy himself… the Grey Lady gives us this lengthy article on the subject of St. Rudy’s intervention with a rural Virginia federal prosecutor concerning an investigation and ultimately guilty plea of a Connecticut based pharmaceutical company who misled doctors and consumers and regulators about the addictive effects of the pain medication oxycontin.
It seems that many relatives of young people who died after abusing oxycontin believe that the principals of Purdue Pharma, the drug company, avoided jail time (though they paid fines and penalties in excess of half a billion dollars) thanks to the hand of Giuliani.
Of course, this might be a big part of the reason that Giuliani still refuses to tell us who the clients of Giuliani and Partners actually are. So this sort of thing might be a regular occurrence in Rudy-world.
I once had this discussion in the context of Robert Luskin, Karl Rove’s criminal defense lawyer. My take is that there is no reason to be hard on the guy (Luskin, that is): a top criminal defense lawyer is paid quite handsomely to get disagreeable people off… or at least, to minimize their exposure (whether measured in jail time, money or both). It’s nothing for the rest of us to hold against them: it’s their job. That we have a system under which reasonable doubt may often be purchased for a reasonable (or unreasonable) fee is not the fault of those individuals who undertake to do their part in the system as criminal defense attorneys (most of whom, btw are not particularly well paid.) Some, of course, do make quite a handsome living at it, particularly when their stature (or sometimes their legal acumen) make them formidable, and prosecutors might well re-think their cases and cut seemingly unimaginably good deals for the defendants.
Is it an “honorable” living? Hey, that’s up to one’s own conscience. Rudy is a man who told his wife he wanted a divorce by announcing it at a television news conference before telling her. He is a man who is himself arguably responsible for the deaths of dozens if not hundreds of firefighters who could not evacuate the World Trade Center because they could not hear the “mayday” signal because Rudy the mayor never bothered (in nearly 8 years in office) to ensure that they had basic communications equipment that actually functioned in high-rise buildings like the WTC– an issue that first arose during the 1993 WTC bombing. Nonetheless, Rudy campaigned on their very blood, assigning himself the role of “head hero” and adopting 9-11 as his own noun, adjective, verb, and self-description. In short… Rudy Giuliani is simply not a man to be troubled by mundane matters of conscience.
And Rudy has built himself quite a nest-egg doing this sort of thing. At $30 million or so (or perhaps, more), Rudy’s net worth is around the same as John Edwards, who of course is duly derided as the “wealthy trial lawyer,” famous for getting pricey haircuts (Hillary, btw, whose husband was also famous for getting expensive haircuts, lists her family assets at between $10 and $50 million). But I digress…
Needless to say, Rudy has made most of that blood money income since his 9-11 days; prior to that, he spent much of his career in the public sector, not exactly raking in the bucks. It would seem, btw, that a lot of his presidential run might be more about drumming up business than winning the presidency; his poll numbers have been tanking and he will, almost certainly, do poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire. Well, who knows? Maybe Rudy can stop taking time off from lucrative influence peddling with this annoying presidential run in 2 or 3 weeks time, and get back to that $15 to $20 million per year paycheck.
Let’s all hope that the candidate best described by New York’s uber-columnist Jimmy Breslin as “a small man in search of a balcony”… does just that. For his sake… and for ours.