Screw Rudy and George and the pile of burning metal they rode into myth on:
For Rudy, 9/11 was like a Frank Capra flick in which he has a mid-life opportunity to become a good person. But the movie has a surprise ending. Because after 2 to 3 weeks of suspense he remains a bad person.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) May 28, 2018
The problem with this movie isn’t so much that Rudy was shitty and then wasn’t. It’s that anyone on earth can show up in a crisis and we think that proves anything at all.
Think about it. Think about an actual crisis. Yes, shit is on fire, but you have something discrete to do. Your job is to stand in front of the cameras and calm everybody down. Approve things someone else has thought of. Say yes and no. You can be calm in that, when everybody’s watching.
But the next day? And the next? And the next? The days after, or before, all eyes are on you? When there’s no galvanizing event, when there’s no movie playing in your head complete with inspiring soundtrack? Can you show up then?
Can you do it when nobody’s watching? When nobody’s taking pictures? Can you do it when you know nobody’s ever gonna throw you a parade?
It’s not even about “in adversity,” because adversity, too, is grounding and centering and motivating. When they’re throwing rotten fruit at you you can laugh and duck and give them the finger. Can you work for others when your work is ignored? When the response to your almost killing yourself is, at most, a shrug?
That’s the test. The hard, grinding, everyday bullshit of working for the common good, that’s the prize.
W. stood on the debris pile and yelled into a microphone and the whole country listened. Rudy held everyone in his hands and said the death toll may be more than we can bear. It’s hard to remember those moments honestly now because shortly thereafter everybody lost their whole entire minds, but in those moments they were needed, these two clown princes of public life, and they did a job.
They did a job and did it well. But it wasn’t THE job, and the problem with a redemption story is that it ends, redeemed. We get so angry and disappointed with our leaders and our lives because nothing is like that, nothing at all.
What is the story if it’s just getting up every single day and making the coffee? Where’s the soundtrack for that? For the long walk home after you cross the finish line, for the stretch and the laundry and the dinner the next night? What if you were judged by the public not on how high you rise in the moment but on where you settle down, at the close of the day, when you’re bone tired and all you want to do is sleep?
What if we judged based on what you did then? What would that look like? Just you, alone in the dark, working on something that nobody cares about, sanding it down and making it fine and true. No one will ever see it. No one will properly appreciate it. No one will even know.
Do you do the job then?
That’s your fucking Capra film.