John Leo

It is probably impossible for non-New Yorkers to understand how deeply the anti-Giuliani establishment here resents any attempt to control disorder. But here's one example: The New York Times, which likes to run anti-Giuliani editorials disguised as news stories, ran a Page One story two years ago mocking police for attempting to deal with the spread of heroin in a diverse area of Brooklyn. The article suggested that the local police were "mindlessly impos(ing) the mores of Mayberry on what is a classic rough-and-tumble Brooklyn neighborhood."

(2) The crime rate can't be brought down without dealing first with the root causes of poverty and hopelessness. Not much is left of this theory. The crime rate and the murder rate have been cut by two-thirds. Last year Chicago had more murders than New York City, with less than half the population.

The fallback position of the anti-Giuliani people is that the drop would have occurred anyway because of the 1990s economic boom. But the city crime rate dropped 30 percent in Giuliani's first two years, before the economy improved, and the boom did not seem to reduce crime in cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit. As much as a quarter of the national decline in crime is accounted for by New York's dramatic gains. Most other crime-cutting cities have had crime rises in the past year. New York's rate is still falling.

(3) Living on the street is a right to be defended, given the economic pressures that cause it. Not so, Giuliani insists. Homelessness is a sign that says, "I have a very big problem and I need help. You should try to help me. And trying to help me means first of all dealing with the basic idea you have to be indoors, not out on the street."

(4) Policies promoting middle-class values are just attempts by the comfortable to impose their way of life on the oppressed. "New York politics is mostly about striking caring poses," writes Fred Siegel, a historian who is probably our best academic expert on urban problems. "Liberals like former mayors John Lindsay and David Dinkins spoke endlessly of what the city owed the poor, but they delivered rising rates of crime and welfare. Mr. Giuliani spoke in the middle-class language of what the poor owe to rest of society, and he delivered more peaceful neighborhoods and a rising standard of living." Minorities and the poor made some of the biggest gains under Giuliani.

The simple truth is that Giuliani saved New York from going the way of Detroit. Whether the dead policies of the past will return under the new mayor is still anybody's guess.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

Be the first to read John Leo's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.