A few kind words for a man I admire before he departs from the arena.

Rudy Giuliani is in trouble. Even as friendly doctors came forward this week to assure us that the indefatigable candidate for the Republican nomination is in good health, we are increasingly aware that his political pulse is failing.

As the curtain falls on this particular act in his intriguing life story, let me say a few parting words in praise of this fine American:

The Rudy detractors would have us believe his political life began on 9-11. This is patently false.

As U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Giuliani transformed crime fighting as a federal prosecutor, boldly confronting and defeating the mafia and white-collar criminals with thoroughly innovative tactics and strategy.

Rudy's success as a law man set the stage for his incredibly successful tenure as mayor of America's most important and difficult city, an office he held for eight years prior to the events of September 11, 2001.

In a recent interview on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Ridley Scott, director of the 1982 science fiction classic, Blade Runner, talked about the film, which prophesied a dark, dangerous, and filthy Los Angeles in the year 2019. Scott revealed that the New York City trajectory of the late-1970s and 1980s provided the inspiration for his squalidly oppressive cinematic vision of the metropolitan future; he also good-naturedly admitted that his nightmare had not proved at all prescient (not yet, anyway).

Neither the interviewer nor the guest initially offered any praise to the former mayor, but, in actual fact, Rudy deserves significant commendation for revitalizing and securing the future of Gotham. Looking back, his eight-year stewardship stands out as truly remarkable. His tenure as mayor also represented a high point in the conservative resurgence of the 1990s, as he brought order to the ultimate untamable town relying on common sense and traditional values.

Was Rudy Rudy before 9/11?

Although detractors are quick to portray Mayor Giuliani as an unpopular figure while in office, this distorted memory willfully disregards Rudy's overwhelming re-election by the citizens of New York in 1997. More importantly, the convenient recollection necessarily ignores the reality of 2000, which offered a triumphant mayor as the only viable candidate to challenge then-First Lady Hillary Clinton's bold bid to win election to the United States Senate. All observers understood early that the New York Senate contest was a high stakes race that would automatically mark the winner as a potential candidate for president. Giuliani was the only New Yorker of sufficient standing to compete with Mrs. Clinton, and, when Rudy stepped aside for a multitude of complicated reasons both personal and political, a potentially historic contest between two titans died in the cradle. Rudy's departure then cleared the path for Hillary’s ascension, and the rest we know well.

An aside: a battle finally fought between Rudy and Hillary in November 2008 would have proved especially satisfying, sweetened with eight years of anticipation. But, once again, this looks wholly unlikely.

2008 and beyond

As I have averred numerous times previously, Rudy is not a good fit for the Republican nomination. Having said that, he is a good man who possesses a thoroughly American story. He is worthy of our gratitude and our imitation. More importantly, the upcoming conclusion to his drive to be president of the United States should not end his career as an important and ultra competent public servant.

Well done, Rudy.