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 Giulianis 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 itnot even John McCain whose heroism as a prisoner was not perceived by the American peopleuntil 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 pollsalthough 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 Giulianis strength and had the feeling that this personal edge that he has over the electoratethe fact that he is the only candidate whom voters have seen measure up to a severe crisiscould offset the welter of personal disadvantages he has. After all, hes been running for president for a long time and every conceivable objection has been made to him by social conservatives. I dont think there are many voters certainly not many Republican ones who dont know he has been married three times. Certainly among social conservatives in the GOP (and Ive 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 cant 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 againthe 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 worsehe may be the best weve 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 haveand thats 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) Rudys concentration rooted solely on his New York experience and that he doesnt 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 Wareither 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 drawHart 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 wouldnt 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 futurefree 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 didnt 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 dont 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 againalleging that Hart was the collector of numerous extramarital affairs. Harts 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 doesnt 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, lets face it, a 14-carat disaster as president. He had others: Rutherford B. Hayes, William McKinley (he was wrong about McKinleys presidency here: McKinley was an outstanding chief executive), Calvin Coolidge (wrong again on Cals 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 Ikes 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 dont care. Im serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. Theyll 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 (Harts 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 Harts 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 harassmentbut instantly, a poll of New Hampshire voters showed that Harts support had dropped in halffrom 32% to 17%., ten points behind Mike Dukakis! On May 5 the Miami Herald received a further tipthat Hart had spent a night in Bimini on a yacht called The Monkey Business (for Gods 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 heres 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 presidents ability to governwhich 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 votes4 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 doesnt 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 Rudys 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 Monologuesa 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 ManhattanClub 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 anyones estimation. Judith Ann Stich was born in 1954 in Hazleton, Pa. Now shes posing in Hamptonstyle magazine in a full-length burgundy gown by Carolina Herrera; then shes 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 `70snot bad for the time. Then the media reveal that their company engaged in vivisection on dogstaking out their spleens and lung lobesto 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 Judis 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 wifes 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 doesnt 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 daughtercharging 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. Shes a manipulator and a pathological liar and exaggerator.
Now Judi finds another guy who doesnt want to get marriedso she goes to live with him, taking her daughter along. He is a Greek psychologist, Manos Zacharioudakis. Zacharioudakis tells Vanity Fairs 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 doesnt. 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 doesnt tell his wife. Hes living on the mayors 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. Patricks 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 divorcewhich 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 Im 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. Rudys political stock falls; hes 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 hes 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. Jacksons 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 fatherwho 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 abortionbut 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 McCains (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 Thompsons (second) wife is a beauteous woman 24 years his junior but the mother of two toddler children. Mitt Romneys wife is lovely and a survivor of MS. Thats 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? Ill 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 shes 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 mans personal life has no relation to how he runs the presidency. Dont 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 horseto 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?