Heckuva job, Rudy!

Apparently one entry in Ronald Reagan's diaries says of Rudy Giuliani "I think he's crazy." (This was with reference to a scheme to indict Ferdinand Marcos, then still ruling the Philippines.)

Well, the Giuliani people needed to respond somehow. And of course they couldn't criticize St. Ronald. So they dug up a letter from Reagan to Giuliani and gave it to Politico.com's Jonathan Martin, who's either astonishingly gullible even by journalistic standards or simply in the tank.

The letter was written when Giuliani switched from being Associate Attorney General to U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Naturally, it says nice things. But, as Colombo would say, there's just one thing: Reagan didn't even sign the letter. The signature is rubber-stamped (not even robo-penned). The normal personalization of a business letter — crossing out "Mr. X" in the salutation and substituting the first name — is omitted. It's so blatant a form letter that it amounts to an insult. Yes, as Martin says, Giuliani is the only current Republican candidate who had a job in the Reagan Administration. But to say that Giuliani "actually worked for the guy" (meaning Reagan) is a considerable stretch.

Reagan's letter has one element that Giuliani has to hope the voters don't pay attention to. Reagan singles out Giuliani's role in drug policy, and in particular in the South Florida task force, which tried to stem the flow of cocaine into Miami. Even when the letter was written, its assertion that the interdiction effort held out "real hope of success" was dubious, at best. But now we know how the story ended: in tears. The cocaine price collapse that paved the way for the crack trade happened largely on Giuliani's watch.

I was working on drug policy in the Justice Department during the Giuliani years. No one in his right mind thought that a program focused on catching smugglers ever had any real hope of working from the get-go; by the time Giuliani left, the failure was obvious, with prices in free-fall and volumes soaring. The speculation when Giuliani took what was at best a lateral transfer (Associate AG is the #3 job in the Department) was that he'd figured out that his counter-drug efforts had been a disaster and wanted to be out of the way when the fecal material hit the air-moving equipment.

Giuliani bragging about his effectiveness in drug enforcement is like Hillary Clinton bragging about her effectiveness in reforming health care. Try again.