Time to Head Back to New York, Rudy
Last April, Rudy Giuliani signed on as Donald Trump’s attorney with a vow to “quickly” bring an end to the Mueller investigation. “ I’m doing it because I hope we can negotiate an end to this for the good of the country,” he said at the time.

Eight months later, the former mayor is still on the job, and so is Mueller. In that time, Giuliani has done virtually everything possible to erase what has remained of his 9/11 hero’s sheen. There was a time when he couldn’t walk into a restaurant without receiving a standing ovation. He was anointed “Person of the Year” by Time ; an honorary knight by Queen Elizabeth; “America’s Mayor” by Oprah Winfrey; a hero by millions around the world.

Eighteen years later – this past Monday - Giuliani conceded to the New Yorker that his legacy is in jeopardy. "I am afraid it will be on my gravestone. 'Rudy Giuliani: He lied for Trump,'” he told Isaac Chotiner .

It was a rare moment of self-awareness for a leader who has almost thoroughly squandered his reputation. As Trump’s attorney, he has improbably built a case against his client by, among other things, revising the timeline on the Trump Tower negotiations in 2016; musing that members of Trump’s campaign could have colluded with Russia; and revealing that Trump had reimbursed Michael Cohen for Stormy Daniels’ hush money. In each instance, Giuliani (or his boss) was forced to issue a clarification.

Everyone is puzzled by Giuliani’s erratic performance. Some have speculated that this has all been a premeditated effort on Trump and Giuliani’s part to confuse the public about the facts of the Russia probe. But that would require Giuliani’s agreement to take one for the team and suffer a continuous barrage of humiliating press (see “How Rudy Giuliani Turned Into Trump’s Clown,” a New Yorker profile with an illustration of the former mayor in a clown’s suit). And that’s not very likely.

Others are openly questioning his sanity. “Is Rudy Giuliani crazy like a fox, or crazy like a loon?” asked Daily Kos last year, summarizing the two theories succinctly. The speculation about Giuliani’s state of mind was fanned in August by none other than Judith Nathan, his estranged wife, who told New York , “for a variety of reasons that I know as a spouse and a nurse, he has become a different man.”

Whatever. We have no idea what Rudy Giuliani’s state of mind is, and we hope only the best for someone who has dedicated almost his entire adult life to public service. But it’s clearly time for the former mayor to exit the D.C. stage, for the sake of his client, and his legacy.

  A Crisis P.R. Master Class
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

    Mike Tyson’s wisdom scrolls across the homepage of RunSwitch PR in Louisville, Kentucky. (“Ready to win?” it asks.) This week the firm executed an impressive feat of crisis management : it salvaged the reputation of Nick Sandmann , the Catholic school student at the center of the tense confrontation with Native American demonstrators that was captured on video at the Lincoln Memorial.

   It sure looked bad for young Mr. Sandmann, snug in a Make America Great Again cap and wielding a menacing smirk. The video went viral on Twitter and Facebook, and in the blink of an eye he became the most loathed 16-year-old in America.

     But Sandmann was fortunate - his parents hired RunSwitch! We’re guessing the firm knew such a public event would eventually yield more video, and that’s what happened – additional footage showed that the Catholic kids – in D.C. for an anti-abortion rally - had themselves been the target of slurs from a group of Black Hebrew Israelites.

    The agency sprang into action, aggressively promoting the longer video and the counter-argument that the students were actually victims. Sandmann released a three-page statement, portraying himself as trying to calm, not inflame, the situation. He was suddenly sympathetic, and the narrative zinged away from demonizing him to demonizing social media, a target both the left and the right readily agree upon.

      “ It’s hard to believe that people are going to continue forever on platforms where they are so cruel to one another , ” wrote David Brooks. “ Will we pause next time to make sure that we understand what we’re reacting to and whom we’re condemning? Even if that means fewer retweets?”  asked Frank Bruni.
     The letter was a good move from RunSwitch, though some immediately suspected that a crisis firm was involved; it was a bit too well-crafted. When Sandmann appeared on the Today s how, sans hat and smirk, he looked terrified.

       The Times did a good job describing how the initial narrative of the fracas shifted – but never noted that crisis managers working through the weekend were instrumental in the change. The writers probably didn’t know.
    And maybe that’s the best compliment RunSwitch can get. Who are they? Well, Scott Jennings, a firm co-founder , worked on multiple campaigns for Senator Mitch McConnell.

    Whichever version of the DC fracas you embrace, there’s no denying this was crisis work well done. In the age of social media, instant fame and instant infamy, we can all use a P.R. firm on retainer.

A New Day in Albany
It occurred to us perusing the Hollywood Reporter this week that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is no longer hurting for publicity (“ AOC Storms Sundance!" ). With that in mind, we turn this week to Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the first woman in 242 years to lead the New York State Senate, and as least as much of a trailblazer.

      Voters in November handed control of the Senate to Democrats for the first time in 50 years. With the Assembly long under the party’s control, and a Dem in the Mansion, the party finds itself with astonishing power after years in the wilderness.

   Stewart-Cousins, the State Senator from Yonkers, has approached the role with a beaming, conquering, almost giddy sense of humor. She invoked a sad Democratic refrain from years past at the start of every session -- and turned it on its ear.

    “We urge our Republican colleagues to take up our bills… I’m just kidding !”

    Cue to applause from a lot of people who’d been waiting a long time (50 years or 242, or both, depending) for something to clap about.
    The Times’ incomparable Mara Gay recounted the first two days of this month’s session as the Senate passed bills the Republicans had long refused to take up.

    Rapid-fire votes saw passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). And that was just the beginning. The state will
enact early voting to ensure that federal and state primaries be held on the same day (can we just pause for a moment to acknowledge how ridiculous it was that they weren’t?); and to let 16- and 17-year-olds preregister to vote.

In short order they also closed a loophole allowing shell businesses to get around donation limits, and banned conversion therapy. On Tuesday they approved the Reproductive Health Act, which codified Roe v. Wade into state law – and took 12 years to pass.

     Republicans even voted along with Democrats on some of these measures. Could politicians in Washington learn from those in – okay, here’s something we never thought we’d say -- Albany?

     As Gay noted, “ the state’s Democratic senators are letting the good times roll. Their leading bon vivant is Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the newly-minted majority leader who has seemed to relish every minute.”
      We're relishing watching her relish every minute.

Here and There
Comings and goings in journalism and communications

Maer Roshan , editorial directer of Talk and founder of Radar , becomes editor in chief
of Los Angeles magazine… Jennifer Blatus , former communications director for Max Rose’s congressional campaign,
has joined Stu Loeser & Co. as a media strategist …  Mackenzie Mays  of the Fresno Bee will cover education and the
budget for Politico in California… Neil Douglas Reilly is promoted to director of government affairs from communications director
for state Sen. Brian Benjamin.

"The thing with loans is, you have to pay them back" -- Alecia Lane, analyst at the Food and Drug Administration, furloughed since Dec. 27th, on the Trump administration's suggestion that workers borrow money.   
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