NY Post May 16, 2000--RUDY GIULIANI, the moralist with a mistress, is in no shape to continue his campaign for the Senate. The mayor who idolizes Fiorello La Guardia is turning into Jimmy Walker. So it is that withdrawal seems the inevitable endgame to this soap opera ("The Middle Aged and the Restless") after Donna Hanover's marital manifesto. Hanover is a classy woman twice scorned, and in 90 seconds she dropped an atomic bomb on her husband's ambitions and fictions. Her breathtaking soliloquy was caused by the mayor's equally breathtaking decision to publicly announce his separation from his wife of 16 years without notifying the mother of his children in advance. This insult tells you all you need to know about the mayor's decision-making capacity in his season of stress. With three phrases, Donna got even for five years of silent humiliation:
  • " ... his relationship with one staff member." (Cristyne Lategano)
  • " ... he chose another path." (Judi Nathan)
  • "I will have no further remarks today."

    I do not pretend to understand the marriages of my best friends, much less of public figures. But in five paragraphs, Donna opened the window on the Giuliani union. She told the world the mayor cheated on her twice. And by declaring she would say no more "today," she sent a message to the political world that she is no longer a silent partner in a one-way open marriage.

    No one can blame Donna for speaking the truth from her heart. Her husband was flaunting his new girlfriend in public. And the mayor's two children were reading about it in the newspapers. This is unacceptable anywhere, and especially from a public moralist with zero tolerance for weakness, with zero tolerance for the mentally ill homeless on medication.

    Last month, Giuliani sent out to a list of religious conservatives a fund-raising letter of pious pandering. In it, he proposed displaying the Ten Commandments in public schools. What's he going to do now - hang the Nine Commandments? Edit out No. 7, as he violates the separation of church and state?

    Rudy can't run for the Senate because his life is in chaos, because he has cancer, because the stress is taking its toll, because he is surrendering to all his worst impulses. Rudy is in a tough spot. He is a prosecutor in his bones, but those instincts can't help him now. He can't wiretap a cancer cell. He can't deport the tabloids. He can't get a gag order against his wife.

    The headlines on the poll stories focus on the 75 percent of the public that doesn't care about the private life of any politician -- a healthy development.

    But 15 percent say these revelations have a negative effect on their assessment of Giuliani. A 15 percent shift will decide a close election.

    There is a lot I admire about Giuliani. I voted for him twice. He has done a lot of good for the city. But he has seemed increasingly authoritarian -- and lawless -- the past year. He has been acting like a control freak who has spun out of control. His attack on city funding for the Brooklyn Museum was an amateur censorship move by a lawyer who doesn't respect the law. His attempt to ban public assemblies from the steps of City Hall violated the Constitution. His lawless and reckless release of Patrick Dorismond's sealed juvenile record was one of the lowest things a mayor has ever done in this town. It

    surely makes his pleas for privacy ring hollow.

    So even before prostate cancer and Judi Nathan, I thought the mayor needed a vacation, not a new campaign. When he canceled a fund-raiser upstate to attend the Yankee home opener, it seemed like a message from his unconscious that he didn't really want to run for a non-executive office.

    Today, he is clearly enduring a mid-life mortality crisis. Virtually everyone wishes the mayor victory in his fight against the disease that took his father's life. He should use his healing time to reflect on his relations with others, as many cancer patients have done. He should reflect on the way he has treated Patrick Dorismond, Ramon Cortines, Kadiatou Diallo, the homeless and his family.

    Years ago, when he was U.S. attorney, Giuliani told me, "I never cheat on my inner moral code." It seems that he has. The mayor should take the time to regain perspective on what is important in life - and then rebuild his inner code as he faces down mortality.

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