New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani may be one of the most popular men in America right now, given his handling of the terrorist attacks on his city. Nonetheless, the suggestion that his second mayoral term be extended beyond its Dec. 31 end should be rejected -- by Giuliani himself, and if it comes down to it, by New York state's legislature and the voters of New York City. Managing the nation's largest city goes far beyond the reaction to a crisis -- even one of the magnitude of September 11 -- regardless of how superbly that crisis was managed and regardless of some city residents' current perceived need for consistency.
Loss of support: Before tragedy struck, Giuliani's approval ratings had dropped considerably in response to substantial problems with the city's police department and social service agencies and the unpleasant airing of his tawdry personal life. These concerns provided ample fodder for the four Democrats and two Republicans, along with a number of other splinter candidates, who have been waging active candidacies to appear on the November ballot.
Whoever wins the primary in New York City today -- it was originally scheduled for Sept. 11 -- should be able to run in the general election for a full term without having to run against Giuliani.
Term limits: New Yorkers have twice enacted term limits laws -- in 1993 and 1996. Giuliani should honor their wishes. After all, even when Giuliani no longer holds elected office, there will be nothing to stop the new mayor, whoever he is, from turning to him for advice and nothing to stop Giuliani from giving it.
New York Gov. George Pataki has been urging New Yorkers to write in Giuliani's name on today's ballot, and a source close to the mayor told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that Giuliani has talked with advisers about extending his stay in office past Dec. 31, when his term expires. To his credit, the mayor has announced he hasn't had time to decide.
We would suggest that Giuliani, indeed, take all the time necessary to realize that his service as New York's mayor in the last two weeks alone may put him in company with the legendary Fiorello H. LaGuardia or the dynamic John Lindsay, but that in overstaying his welcome he may well remind New Yorkers why on Sept. 10. they were so eager to replace him.