Friday, September 14, 2007

Personal Aside: A “Vanity Fair” Profile on Judith Ann Stish Ross Nathan Giuliani Details a Possible Electoral Calamity for Her Husband. But He Employs the “Hart-Learned Lesson.”


Everybody knows what Rudy Giuliani’s ace in the hole is. Americans have not seen how any other candidate reacts to a crisis: they have with Giuliani since by common consent his leadership was cool, contained, tough and some even say heroic. No one else can match it—not even John McCain whose heroism as a prisoner was not perceived by the American people—until it was related following his release. With Giuliani, all of us glued to television saw how a dynamic leader reacts to a cataclysm that he cannot control: with energy, verve, optimism and firm purpose to deliver retribution to our enemies.

This is why, despite all his personal baggage, his deviations on moral issues that have held sway in Republican beliefs since 1980…abortion, marriage between a man and a woman…2nd amendment…he is able to hold off his rivals in the national polls—although in Iowa and New Hampshire he is behind Mitt Romney. In conservative South Carolina, Fred Thompson has surged ahead but in Florida Rudy holds firm.

Earlier this summer I marveled at Giuliani’s strength and had the feeling that this personal edge that he has over the electorate—the fact that he is the only candidate whom voters have seen measure up to a severe crisis—could offset the welter of personal disadvantages he has. After all, he’s been running for president for a long time and every conceivable objection has been made to him by social conservatives. I don’t think there are many voters…certainly not many Republican ones…who don’t know he has been married three times. Certainly among social conservatives in the GOP (and I’ve run with them for decades) there is no doubt whatsoever that he is a pro-abort, pro-gay rights and was sheltered after his second marriage went bum by two close friends who were male lovers. With a party that contains a movement that touts the Judeo-Christian ethic…even considering forgiveness from sin and understanding concupiscence as part of the human condition…Rudy is almost impossible to take. Yet-yet-yet…

Yet you can’t tell me that a great number of social conservatives have not made a decision inwardly that (a) in these times when at most the GOP has only a 30% chance of winning the presidency again—the issue of national security and the realization that with Rudy you know how he will react to a future that almost certainly will present another 9/11 or even worse—he may be the best we’ve got…and (b) he has sent out delicate vibes to indicate that his logical choice of jurists to support his tough anti-ACLU stands would be in the mould of Scalia, Roberts and Thomas. I think they have—and that’s why Rudy continues to be standing upright in the face of competitors who normally would be able to best him.

But recently there are two serous disadvantages that have not been closely examined: (a) Rudy’s concentration rooted solely on his New York experience and that he doesn’t have the national depth to project a convincing national strategy to win the international war against terrorism, which shows itself clearly with every debate…and (b) his success up to now in employing the excuse made by Gary Hart to dissuade the left of center mainstream media from trumpeting his lurid personal life. And the Gary Hart experience is important to reconsider now.

The Gary Hart Lesson.

For those lamentably too young to recall, Gary Hart was regarded by many as a bright young U.S. senator from Colorado--favored by many media types for having interesting so-called “alternative” views to what media called the tired old themes of the Cold War—either win it which the conservative hard-liners wanted to do or negotiate with various complex treaties that the liberals sought. In 1984 Hart appeared as a fresh young face, a so-called honest alternative to stagnant politicians. He ran for president in the Democratic primaries against former vice president Walter F. Mondale who seemed to represent the tired, old, big labor union-style Democratic response. On Super Tuesday primaries the two men fought almost to a draw—Hart winning states in the West, winning Florida and New England while Mondale hung on with big money-raising to gain majorities in the delegate-rich states of New York and Pennsylvania.

Mondale won the nomination with the old Democratic machinery but got trounced by Ronald Reagan, winning only his home state of Minnesota (which, indeed, he wouldn’t have carried had not the Reagan forces given up on the state) and the District of Columbia. After the Reagan victory, Mondale was washed up and Hart seemed to many like the wave of the future—free of hackneyed old approaches, typifying an approach which a new legion of Democrats sorely wanted.

Accordingly, Hart approached 1988 as a front-runner. He declined to run for a third term in the Senate in 1986 to spend full time on the presidential campaign . What happened to Hart is revelatory.

Gary Hart was always the subject of rumors about his personal life. He was reputed to be a ladies man from the time he ran the McGovern for president bid in 1972. That reputation followed him to the Senate and indeed he didn’t do much to stop them. For one thing, he was married to the same woman (and is now approaching his fiftieth wedding anniversary). For another, his wife, Lee, was pretty demonstrative in telling the press she had strong faith in Gary. That is usually enough for the media. They really don’t like hiding behind potted palms in fancy restaurants peering out to catch whomever a lawmaker might be dining with.

In January, 1987 Gary Hart was the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in 1988. Rumors dogged him for more than a decade about his affairs, as soon as he announced his candidacy, on April 133, 1987, they started again—alleging that Hart was the collector of numerous extramarital affairs. Hart’s regular answer to these things was (a) his marriage and support of his wife and (b) a casual, intellectually sophisticated view that, anyhow, how a man runs his private life doesn’t impinge on how he handles the presidency. In private sessions with the press, while he never admitted any dereliction, Hart pointed to Jimmy Carter. Great family man, Baptist Sunday school teacher but, let’s face it, a 14-carat disaster as president. He had others: Rutherford B. Hayes, William McKinley (he was wrong about McKinley’s presidency here: McKinley was an outstanding chief executive), Calvin Coolidge (wrong again on Cal’s handling of the presidency).

He moved over to Eisenhower and the suspicion…well, it was far more than a suspicion…that in World War II Ike had a favorite beauteous British WAC chauffeur who to his mortification wrote a sensational book after the war (“Eisenhower Was My Boss”) that although it gave no details, it sure as hell showed the two were far closer than they should have been…as for example when she became terrified of a rat running in her lodgings, called Ike and he came rushing over with a pistol and put the rodent out of business. I remember that book and how it was circulated in paperback by the Taft forces. Everybody with any sophistication thought: well there sure probably was something going on, but that war wartime and Mamie was saying that it was such a comfort for them to cuddle up together in marital bliss and while he was sleeping, “I like to lean over and pat Ike’s old bald head.”

Gary Hart used McKinley, Coolidge, Eisenhower and Carter as examples to sort of shame the media from probing him too extensively. But of course he overdid it. In an interview with the “New York Times” on May 3, 1987 he responded to a spate of rumors by saying to the media in one of the most ghastly mis-cues of all time: “Follow me around. I don’t care. I’m serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They’ll be very bored.”

Well, when a candidate does that and issues such a dare, obviously somebody will try to take him up on it. And the “Miami Herald” did just that. It staked out his Washington residence (Hart’s wife was in Colorado) and observed an attractive young honey coming out of his townhouse quite late on Saturday evening May 2. It published the story on Sunday, May 3. Hart and his public relations people answered that the newspaper had rushed its way into print, had unfairly judged the situation without finding out the true facts. But here coincidence loomed. As fate would have it, the “Miami Herald” reporter who flew to Washington to cover the story was on the same flight as the same attractive woman whom he perceived leaving Hart’s townhouse. How often would that have occurred? Anyhow, Hart put up a howl about unwarranted challenges to his marital fidelity and his wife backed him up.

It goes without saying that some people in the media felt this was a case of harassment—but instantly, a poll of New Hampshire voters showed that Hart’s support had dropped in half—from 32% to 17%., ten points behind Mike Dukakis! On May 5 the “Miami Herald” received a further tip—that Hart had spent a night in Bimini on a yacht called “The Monkey Business” (for God’s sake!) with a woman not his wife. The “Herald” then received photos of Hart aboard the yacht with then 29-year-old Donna Rice sitting on his 50-year-old lap. The photos were published in the “National

Enquirer” and on May 8, 1987 Hart dropped out of the race.

Now here’s an interesting thing. He lashed out at the media, of course (de rigeur by politicians for that kind of disclosure) and a Gallup Poll found that nearly two-thirds of the respondents thought the media treatment he received was “unfair.” A little over half (53%) felt marital infidelity had little to do with a president’s ability to govern—which is the fashionable view in our tolerant, sophisticated, blasé society.

So thinking it over, Hart jumped back in the race in December, 1987 declaring, “Let the people decide!” They did. In the New Hampshire primary he got 4,888 votes—4 percent. He quit for good on March 8.

Apply the Hart Lesson to Rudy.

Rudy seems to have put to rest the details of his troubled personal life by taking the Gary Hart route: it doesn’t have a thing to do with the presidency. Sounds good for now. But the voters just perceive he is divorced; Reagan was divorced. So what? But wait until they hear that Rudy’s first marriage was to a woman whom he later discovered was his first cousin (a flaky occurrence). His second marriage was to a TV anchor who later, during his mayoralty, starred on stage in “The Vagina Monologues”—a distinctly off-color production featuring all kinds of four letter words. Then as mayor and a married man father of two, he goes to a cigar bar on the East Side of Manhattan—Club Macanudo and meets future wife number 3. They take up a tempestuous affair that is hugely covered by the media (as you would expect it would be with the New York mayor cheating on his wife).

And who did he take up with who became Wife No. 3? A logical candidate for First Lady in anyone’s estimation. Judith Ann Stich was born in 1954 in Hazleton, Pa. Now she’s posing in “Hamptonstyle” magazine in a full-length burgundy gown by Carolina Herrera; then she’s smiling for the cameras while fingering monogrammed, hand-stitched napkins complete with silver napkin rings in the new cigar room of the Giuliani mansion. Finally she’ showing off the mantelpiece adorned with white porcelain figures of Winston Churchill to whom she compares Rudy.

Judi (as she insists on being called) gets an RN at age 19, marries Jeffrey Ross a hospital supply salesman who gets her a job at his company. They move to Charlotte, N. C. and she passes him up in the wage department earning $40,000 a year in the late `70s—not bad for the time. Then the media reveal that their company engaged in vivisection on dogs—taking out their spleens and lung lobes—to test its surgical tools…and after the experiments when the dogs howled in pain, the company put the dogs to sleep with potassium chloride. The national publicity hurts the company and destroys the Ross’ income. They split in 1979. Years later when asked about it, she tosses off a laugh and says, “Oh, you mean when I was killing puppies?” Giuliani explodes with anger when the subject comes up today.

That same year, 1979, Judi marries Husband No. 2, Bruce Nathan, a good looking observant Jew, moves into his small house. He is a wallpaper salesman. He gets transferred by his company to Atlanta. They adopt a daughter, Whitney. Judi is moving up in middle-class Atlanta society when his company transfers him to New York city. They live in a tiny apartment. In 1987 the famous “Black Monday” hits on Wall Street and damages his prospects for selling wallpaper on the East Coast. Living in the tiny apartment gets on Judi’s nerves; they fight; she calls him “a Jew boy” and “kike” by his testimony. They separate but reconcile. In 1991 they move to Pacific Palisades, California. There she takes a job as a salesman of ophthalmologic products. They continue fighting. She splits taking their daughter with her. He calls the cops, charging his wife with child abduction.

In the divorce papers he writes, “my wife’s main goal in life was being involved with whatever was the `in-thing’ at the moment…the `right church’ …the `right people’…adopting a child for status purposes.” She returns to New York. She gets a job as a dental receptionist in 1997. She doesn’t earn enough to pay the $27,000 in legal fees. She borrows form her retird parents, takes out a second mortgage on her small house. She becomes a hospital sales rep, collecting $1600 a month alimony.

But Bruce Nathan continues to fight like a tiger for custody of their daughter—charging in public records that the child was fighting anorexia, was in trouble, failing school, missing classes and associating with the wrong kids. He testifies, “my wife drinks often. She’s a manipulator and a pathological liar and exaggerator.”

Now Judi finds another guy…who doesn’t want to get married—so she goes to live with him, taking her daughter along. He is a Greek psychologist, Manos Zacharioudakis. Zacharioudakis tells “Vanity Fair’s” reporter Judy Bachrach, “Whitney slept in the bedroom; Judi and I on the pullout bed in the living room.” He describes Judi as “a beautiful, sensual, erotic creature.” But she wants to get married and Manos doesn’t. So goes man-shopping.

This is where she meets Rudy at Club Macanudo. He has already weathered huge publicity that he has been conducting an affair with his female press secretary, Christine Lategano whom he later fires.

Rudy and Judi hit it off wonderfully at Club Macanudo. He is glamorous, lives in Gracie Mansion with his wife and two kids. She goes to her one-bedroom apartment she shares with Zacharioudakis, packs up, grabs Whitney and leaves. She and Rudi then conduct an affair that is the talk of New York. Still Rudy doesn’t tell his wife. He’s living on the mayor’s salary of $191,000 a year, supporting his wife and their two children and he has no inherited wealth.

The whole thing comes to a head at the St. Patrick’s Day parade 2000 when Judi marches right behind Rudy. They run off to Florida and of course the New York police have to go along to guard him at an estimated $3,000 per weekend tryst. He comes down with prostate cancer and Judi goes to the hospital with him. He announces to the press that she is really something special, declaring he will ask for a divorce—which is the first official time his wife of 16 years and his kids hear of it. “Judith Nathan,” he says, “is a very, very fine person and I’m going to need her more than now maybe I did before.”

Believe it or not, he tries to move Judi into Gracie Mansion. His wife objects, refuses to move out. Now he tries to sneak Judi into the Mansion and is discovered. As part of her divorce action, his wife subpoenaes Judi Nathan and one Christine Lategano. Rudy’s political stock falls; he’s sick, sleeping on the couch at Gracie Mansion.

Then 9/11 hits and he becomes a new man. Big on TV. One day he is a political cadaver, the next he’s in the running for president. His health comes back. He begins Giuliani Partners, goes on a nationwide speaking tou charging more than $150,000 a pop plus a $30,000 bill for a Gulfstream IV charter and becomes a freshly minted multi-millionaire. He gives Judi a $20,000 Ceylon sapphire and diamond ring. They exchange vows on the grounds of Gracie Mansion with the ceremony conducted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The money pours in to Giuliani Partners. Judi takes an office next to his. Their $100 million firm represents many clients including Purdue Pharma which has been investigated by the FDA for deaths stemming from misuse of its painkiller OxyContin.

There have been rumors of trouble in paradise. On a flight to Japan where he made a high-powered speech a year of so ago, Rudy and Judi got into a tiff which necessitated the future president of the United States getting up and moving over to sit with his advance man. Just a tiff between old married people, right?

At this point let me refresh you on the history of divorced women who have been First Lady. First was Rachel Jackson who married Andrew when they were both 24. Rachel had been married to a wife-beater who left her to go out west. . She received what she thought was unimpeachable evidence that he was dead. After she married Andrew she found out he was alive. So they separated and started divorce proceedings…then very rare…which when completed, they were re-married. Jackson’s political enemies made such fervid use of that episode, saying that he and his wife were both adulterers and bigamists, that Rachel Jackson went into an agony of shame and died. Andrew Jackson never forgot it. The nation sympathized with him. He ended up being one of the most popular of presidents.

The second was Florence Kling Harding. She became pregnant at age 19 and married the father—who abused her and the child and left. She got a divorce and supported herself giving piano lessons in Marion, Ohio where she met and married Warren. Her business sense and sagacity made a nearly bankrupt “Marion Star” newspaper that he owned a healthy enterprise; she guided him to a state senatorship, a U. S. senatorship and to the presidency. There was no fall-out and by the time he died, Warren Harding was a very popular president (the repercussions from Teapot Dome and veterans’ scandal came after his death).

The third was Chicago-born Betty Bloomer Ford. She was a Powers model who married briefly, divorced, worked at a furniture store in Grand Rapids and married Jerry Ford. She ended up antagonizing social conservatives because she endorsed abortion—but before that, at the start of his term, she underwent surgery for breast cancer and then confessed to addiction to pain-killers and alcohol that came as result of medication from an inoperable and highly painful pinched nerve. She was one of the more popular First Ladies.

Now we get to other possible First Ladies. John McCain’s (second) wife is CEO of a hugely wealthy liquor distributorship begun by her father. She is young, attractive and had a slight stroke from which she has apparently fully recovered. Fred Thompson’s (second) wife is a beauteous woman 24 years his junior but the mother of two toddler children. Mitt Romney’s wife is lovely and a survivor of MS. That’s all. Now, presumably, we would get to Judi. About whom many would be eager to testify: Jeffrey Ross…Bruce Nathan…Manos Zacharioudakis…Christine Lategano…Starr Shepherd. Starr who? I’ll get to her in the next paragraph.

Call me a simple-minded old man, friends but, be honest, do you think this not going to be related in such detail…and with far more lurid detail…than as I have now? And now just to be current there is a postscript. New York is starting to hear about one Starr Shepherd, 36, a flaming red-haired Texan who used to be on what she calls “the U.S. world team of rhythmic twirling gymnastics.” She denies she’s his latest girlfriend saying, “I do not need a political power stick.” She adds: I believe in his vision and his voice even if I do not believe in his family.”

Journalist Bachrach asks: What do you mean by that?

Ms. Shepherd replies in part: “Oh, you know…”

You may point to polls showing a broadminded American people feeling a man’s personal life has no relation to how he runs the presidency. Don’t believe them. Look at what they said about Gary Hart and how they reacted electorally. Friends, there is enough political poison here to kill a horse—to make Bill and Hillary Clinton look like an ideal bridal couple. Rudy sticks with the Gary Hart answer. Personal behavior has nothing to do with conducting the office of president of the United States. I say look what it did for Hart.

I am told many Republicans hope Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee as she will be easiest to beat. Whom do you think the Democrats want to see Republicans nominate?



  1. On the subject of polling, I suspect that Giuliani's support in Florida could be related to the large number of former New Yorkers who have taken up residency in the Sunshine State after retirement.

  2. According to the Vanity Fair article the "Oh, you mean when I was killing puppies" quote is attributed to WABC radio host Ron Kuby, a Giuliani critic. Your article make it appear that the quote is attributed to Judith.

    Great thoughts in this post. I'd like to hear your thoughts on Giuliani's political associates through the years, Bernie Keik, etc. I think they could be liabilities as well if he gets the nomination.

  3. I believe his foes will get a lot of mileage of the photos of RG all dressed up in drag. One would have been a nice accompaniment to your piece.

  4. Tom Roeser you like to chastise any one who doesn't like your neo-con endorsed President Bush.... or what his neo-con Iraq War was really about!... but then both you and John Powers are regretably NAIVE! Read the following Tom about your GOLDEN boy, George Bush as described by Alan Greenspan:

    Greenspan also condemns Bush's spending excesses.... not conservative you know Tom! But it was delightfully neo-con which you now fall for! It is called being a "big Government" globalist conservative......

    Explain yourself out of this one Tom... I dare you!