When Rudy Met Russert: Giuliani Advocates Secret Service Protection for Presidential Mistresses

This post, written by Steve Benen, originally appeared on The Carpetbagger Report

When Rudy Giuliani sat down with Tim Russert yesterday on Meet the Press, there was more interest than usual, in large part because the interview was unexpected. The former mayor rarely sits down for lengthy on-air interviews, and when he does, it's exclusively for partisan journalists at Fox News. With that in mind, for Giuliani to enter what some call the "Russert Primary" was a little risky (though the risk of being labeled a coward for skipping MTP may have been nearly as great).

Having watched the entire hour-long interview more than once, I can't say there was much in the way of actual news, and I wouldn't suggest we actually learned anything, but it was nevertheless a sight to behold. It's unusual to see a presidential hopeful be so consistently deceptive, non-stop, for a national audience. Watching the show, it was tempting to keep a bottle of Maalox in one hand, and a shovel to trudge through the nonsense in the other.

One could probably write a short book highlighting all of the mendacity, but instead, I thought I'd just summarize the interview for readers, boiling it down to what you need to know.

* Process -- Russert started with a series of questions about polls and electoral strategy, which was clearly a waste of valuable time. Giuliani, obviously behind in the early contests, explained, "The idea is you want to win the first one. If you lose the first one, you want to win the second one. If you lose the second one, you want to win the third one." Brilliant.

* Iran -- Russert noted the new NIE on Iran, and highlighted the fact that Tehran acts rationally and responds to international diplomacy. He then asked Giuliani if this shouldn't remove the option of a pre-emptive military strike against Iran? "No, I don't think it does," Giuliani said. "Of course we don't want to use the military option. It'd be dangerous; it'd be risky; but I think it would be more dangerous and more risky if Iran did become a nuclear power." In other words, nothing's changed.

* Iraq -- Asked for his "best estimate" as to how long will U.S. troops be in Iraq, Giuliani said, "For as long as necessarily to get the strategic objective achieved." In other words, if Giuliani's elected, we'll stay in Iraq indefinitely, no matter the costs.

* Terrorist expertise -- Giuliani has bragged that he's studied Islamic terrorism for "30 years," and understood the al Qaeda threat before most U.S. officials. Yesterday, he walked that back a bit, and blamed Bill Clinton for not giving him better briefings on the terrorist threat. (Remember, everything, everywhere, is always Clinton's fault.)

* Iraq Study Group -- Russert asked why Giuliani passed on an opportunity to learn about Iraq and help shape a new foreign policy. The former mayor said he didn't want to politicize the process. It's the same excuse he used over the summer -- and it was wrong then, too.

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