As usual with these campaign-ad criticisms, this is information you need to have to help you evaluate the evaluation. So be advised: We're not a fan. We're inclined to think he had one good day as mayor of New York City and about 2,900 bad ones -- even those in which he cleaned up the mean streets, since he used thuggish police tactics to do so.
OK? We're declared. Now then: What a fabulous commercial -- a textbook example of shrewdly but legitimately selective truth. It begins with a voice-over by a guy who speaks a little too fast.
"New York City is the third- or fourth-largest government in the country. It's one of the largest economies in the United States. They used to call it unmanageable, ungovernable."
Oh, wait. That's Rudy himself. Maybe to us the rapid-fire speech is suspicious ("fast-talking politician" and all that), but really he just sounds authentic -- far less stilted than most candidates. This includes Fred Thompson, the actor, who comes off like he's reading a contract aloud.
Meanwhile, as Rudy speaks, we see bright, fast-moving images of a thriving city, you know, thriving. But then the images slow down and go pale: political-ad shorthand for "grim." Giuliani continues.
"A large majority of New Yorkers wanted to leave and live somewhere else. It was a city that was in financial crisis, a city that was the crime capital of America. A city that was the welfare capital of America. A city that was in very, very difficult condition when I became the mayor."
It should be noted here that intercut with the images, both optimistic and bleak, is the face of the ex-mayor himself, situated, appropriately enough, in the center-right of the screen. We shall be as delicate as we possibly can: He doesn't look half bad. Dramatic lighting, a nice tan and a cropping of his balding pate make him seem a lot less, um, totally freakin' creepy than in person. In fact, he looks quite handsome -- but not in a Ken doll/John Edwards/Mitt Romney sort of way.
And he's only just getting started.
"By the time I left office, New York City was being proclaimed as the best example of conservative government in the country. We turned it into the safest large city in America, the welfare-to-work capital of America, and, most importantly, the spirit of the people of the city had changed. Instead of being hopeless, the large majority of people had hope."
No, he doesn't mention the rather narrow definition of "civil liberties" employed to effect these changes, but why would he? Some people don't quibble when the trains run on time.
Coincidentally, the strongest element of the spot may be something else not specifically mentioned: 9/11, his much-debated "one good day." And why would he do that, either? Giuliani is so associated with his leadership on that day that its memory colors every frame -- especially since the ad is titled, onscreen, "Tested." His avoidance of the subject makes him seem that much more self-confident, that much more grounded, that much more humble (which, believe us, was never a word used to describe him when he was in office).
"So I believe I've been tested in a way in which the American people can look to me. They're not going to find perfection, but they're going to find somebody who has dealt with crisis almost on a regular basis and has had results -- and, in many cases, exceptional results. Results people thought weren't possible. I'm Rudy Giuliani, and I approve this message."
Strange. Us, too.