Could it be a handicap to a Republican presidential candidate struggling to build conservative credentials? The macho ex-mayor of New York City’s history of dressing up as a woman in public to get laughs?
It is difficult to shock New Yorkers, yet Rudy Giuliani teetered close to the line when he sauntered onto a stage wearing a platinum-blond wig, a face full of makeup, dainty white gloves and a frilly pink gown filled out in all the right places.
His appearance at an annual political roast was exactly 10 years ago, and at the time, the idea of the tough-talking mayor in a busty ball gown raised eyebrows but was mostly accepted as a good joke- adhering to an unwritten rule for the shenanigans that take place at the roast, known as the Inner Circle dinner.
Shortly after winning re-election that year, Giuliani took his feminine side to a national audience. While hosting “Saturday Night Live,” he appeared in one skit as a bosomy, gray-haired Italian grandmother in lipstick and a flowered house dress, with stockings pulled halfway up his calves.
AP writer Sara Kugler recalls another Inner Circle dinner when Giuliani wore fishnet stockings and tried to high-kick with the Rockettes. The former mayor, asked whether this dress-up history might hurt him politically, said he was just having fun, and that people will have to think what they like.
You have to wonder if it’s any worse than slick former venture capitalist Mitt Romney pretending he’s been a lifelong hunter and gun enthusiast, or John McCain pretending the Baghdad market he toured under heavy military guard was actually safe for Iraqis.
Some say it’s fantasy to believe any Republican can be elected president next year, given the Iraq war and the fund raising success of Democrats Clinton and Obama.
We’ll be watching who does what to whom, in both parties, until things sort themselves out by early 2008. And if Rudy Giuliani still has those old wigs and dresses, expect them to stay locked away in a trunk- at least until the fight for the nominations is over.