September 10, 2007

Rudy: Super-Sized For 9/11


Giuliani’s campaign, like his resurrected political career, is built atop the rubble of the twin towers; his appeal is firmly rooted inthe visual images of Sept. 11, 2001….

— Matt Bai, New York Times Magazine, September 9, 2007

Last week, I reposted the December 2001 TIME Magazine cover featuring that year’s “Person Of The Year.”  It offered a photo-illustration placing winner Rudolph Giuliani atop a mock skyscraper about where the World Trade Center might have leveled off, the Empire State Building perfectly lined up in the background.  The caption read: “Rudy Giuliani: Tower of Strength.”

What we have above is the NYT Magazine‘s double page spread at the start of yesterday’s Rudy Giuliani cover story.  (Here, by the way, is the Magazine’s cover image, sans text, except for the lead title).

It might be going a bit far to say that the NYT is anointing Hizzoner as the Republican nominee.  It does, however, seems to lift Giuliani up and out of what has been thought of so far as a bunch of Republican presidential second-stringers.

What the Times also accomplishes is to add more cement to the structural association between Rudy and 9/11.  Published on September 9th, this issue effectively serves as the Mag’s 9/11 edition. (And it’s that much impressive a link because the Administration’s Iraq sale-a-thon is scheduled to kick-off tomorrow, soaking up most of the surface glare of the anniversary politics.)

The publication seems to have fallen into (or fallen in love with) the same metaphorical association TIME Magazine punched up.  In my write-up the other day, I discussed how Rudy — by way of the photo illustration — was physically equated with the towers, the metaphor (driven home in the caption)  characterizing him as “a tower” of a man.

Curiously, by devoting a poster-size, double page vertical spread to Giuliani, the NYT also builds him up as tower-like.  Even if Matt Bai’s article asks all the right questions in terms of whether Giuliani fits the bill, the power of the visuals (including the larger-than-life cover close up of “Rudy the Crusader”) cedes and reinforces what 9/11 did for him — which was to scale him up so he’s ten, a hundred, a thousand feet tall.

(Nigel Parry for The New York Times, September 2007.

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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