WASHINGTON -- Most experienced adults acknowledge at some point in their lives that love is a form of temporary insanity.
If only Rudy Giuliani would admit as much. Then we might shed a sliver of light on his profoundly odd habit of taking cell phone calls from his wife while in the midst of a speech.
Love at least has clouded his judgment.
Rudy 'n' Judi have been making public woo since they first locked gazes in a New York cigar bar. We know from the Mrs. that Giuliani is a "really high-testosterone guy" and nobody doubted it for a minute. We know from the former mayor that he never can get enough of his tiara-wearing princess bride.
Or so one would infer from his inability to resist a chat when the mood swings.
When Judi calls, Rudy answers.
And she calls a lot. Even when America's mayor is speaking to key donors and potential voters.
Most recently, Giuliani interrupted a speech before the National Rifle Association (NRA) to talk to snookums. If ever one were going to resist the urge to play phone-footsie with one's girlfriend, it would be in the presence of people whose primary concern in life is being able to own and carry weapons.
Dodge City to Rudy: Those really are pistols in their pockets. Not cell phones.
As some people love their guns, Rudy apparently loves his chatterbox. When cell phones ring in crowded rooms, most people panic and apologetically seek the power button. Not Rudy. He whips his out and hits the green button. Judi clearly had him at hello.
Thus, while jaws began setting in a room of muted chuckles, Rudy played public cuckold to his third wife. Feigning amusement and affection while exchanging sweet nothings, the aspiring president utterly emasculated himself in front of a crowd whose cumulative testosterone level had the Army Corps of Engineers on alert.
Then, in a moment of increasingly rare clarity, he told his ladylove that he couldn't talk right then because he was in the middle of an important speech. Really? Then he asked if she'd like to say hello to the nice people in the audience and, no, apparently she wouldn't like to. He laughed.
The audience didn't.
Finally, Giuliani said, "I love you" and promised to call after the show. Did he really think the NRA would be amused?
Giuliani pulled a similar stunt in Oklahoma City earlier this year. At a roundtable of $2,300 donors, Giuliani took a call (not from his wife), and left the room never to return. There was no explanation offered. During a larger meeting afterward to a crowd of about 150, each of whom had paid $500 to hear him talk, Giuliani took another call -- this time from Judi.
One audience member who asked to remain anonymous told me that everyone assumed it was a joke at first, and then realized it wasn't. Adding to the sense of Giuliani's disconnect from reality, she said, was his inattention to his audience. Many in attendance were from oil companies, including one who had flown Giuliani on his private jet, yet the candidate made no comments about energy concerns.
"It was as if he had no clue who his audience was," she said.
Giuliani's phone obsession, which has not been limited to these two instances, is simply weird and can't be explained rationally. What woman calls her husband when he's in the middle of a speech? No One Does This. It's rude. It's silly. It is completely ridiculous.
Giuliani's explanation is that ever since 9/11, he and his wife always exchange endearments when one of them gets on a plane. Just in case. That's nice. Can they not say, "I love you?" before the speech? That usually works well enough for most people.
If Americans are growing weary of the cell phone shtick, they are likely feeling played by the 9/11 connection. We all marveled at Giuliani's energy and strength as he helped guide New York after the terrorist attacks, but perhaps there is a limit to the memory's application.
There are two other possible explanations for Giuliani's behavior. Either this cellular love fest is a stunt, which reveals a remarkable lack of judgment. Or he is a narcissist, who, blinded by his own reflection, has no feel for what others require.
Neither assessment bodes well for a man who wants to be president.