Giuliani the Canary

Giuliani the Canary

Rudy Giuliani’s been looking increasingly unhinged this week, and that’s saying something as he hasn’t seemed fully rational in years. Still, I watched him on the Sunday morning shows this weekend and wondered if he might be ill or drugged or something. At one point, while talking to Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, Giuliani began to sweat profusely. He drank some water, but it did nothing to stop the creeping shine on his forehead and upper lip. He looked like Albert Brooks from that pivotal scene in Broadcast News. I said to my husband, too bad they didn’t stick with him for another ten minutes or so; I’d like to see that play out. Probably not my kindest observation.

In addition to the sweat, Giuliani seemed to emit a ghostly aura. My husband, who has a 40-year career in television production, said it was his lighting. “They’re lighting him low and from the front,” he said. This unconventional lighting, according to my husband, may have been chosen to minimize the dark bags under his eyes. It had the unfortunate side effect of emphasizing Giuliani’s bloodshot eyes and maniacal saliva flinging, but you can only expect lighting to do so much, I suppose.

Canary image.

Giuliani was making the rounds to tell yet another version of the president’s involvement with Russia in the run-up to the election. This time he said he never said some stuff he definitely said and that, yes, in fact the president had been chatting with the Russians about a possible project throughout the campaign, even though both he and the president had previously denied this. Now, just a few days later, Giuliani is scrambling to take it all back. Everything he said was hypothetical. He was just speculating, just spinning out some what-ifs. You know, like presidential attorneys have done throughout history.

No wonder Giuliani was sweating.

I think Giuliani is the guy to watch as this mess goes down. The crazier he gets, the closer we all are to learning the truth. Giuliani is the canary in Trump’s coal mine. And he looks like he’s suffering from some noxious air.

Giuliani also sings like a canary. He shouts when silence would be a smarter option. He doesn’t seem to be able to help himself. He relays conversations with the president, though nothing compels him to do so. Any other lawyer in the world would invoke attorney-client privilege and keep his mouth shut, but Giuliani sings and sings. He relays verbatim conversations from his boss and then tries to pass them off as imaginary. It’s nuts.

Honestly, it’s kind of tragic to watch Giuliani spin into a Sinclair Lewis character in front of our eyes, but it’s also instructive. The more he gasps and sweats and rants, the more he talks and contradicts himself, the more we know. The Trump campaign was never concerned with winning an election. It was concerned with winning favor from future business partners, even partners who happened to be allied with hostile foreign governments. The administration may still be more concerned with those alliances than with serving the American citizens. Giuliani seems to know this and he’s choking on the knowledge. There’s no lighting trick in the world that will make a spooling mess of nervous confessional babble look good.

And Giuliani would do well to remember that the canary never makes it out of the coal mine. The songbird’s imminent death is a warning that everyone else should flee. We need only to look at the mass exodus of cabinet members and senior officials to know that’s already happening. It’s too late for Giuliani to save himself; his legacy is toast. So he might as well perform a valuable service for the rest of the world.

Keep singing, Giuliani. We’re listening.


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Tiffany Quay Tyson

THE PAST IS NEVER is the winner of the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction, and the Mississippi Author Award for Adult Fiction (selected by the Mississippi Library Association). This southern gothic novel steeped in local lore was selected as an "Okra Pick" by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Tyson's debut novel THREE RIVERS was a finalist for both the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction and the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction. She was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi and now lives, writes, and teaches in Denver, Colorado.
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