Sioux City, Iowa, July 18, 2007
Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani told THE WEEKLY STANDARD in an interview here that he is currently reading American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion, former Wall Street Journal reporter Paul M. Barrett's heavily reported look at the American Muslim community.
"It's very, very good," said Mayor Giuliani, who confessed he wasn't exactly sure how he came across Barrett's book, released at the end of 2006. Giuliani speculated he had bought the book at a Borders bookstore.
According to reviews, American Islam is a broad look at Muslims living in the United States. Publisher's Weekly called the book "remarkably evenhanded." Indeed, Barrett's occasional criticism of the Patriot Act and U.S. policy in the Middle East was cause for criticism from Hudson Institute scholar Paul Marshall, who wrote in the February 2007 issue of Commentary that it was "a pity" that American Islam's "conclusions and recommendations should not only be at such variance" with the diversity of American Muslims "but should contribute so little to solving the very real problems that it brings to light."
In the interview, Giuliani also mentioned he had seen Borat, the 2006 Sacha Baron Cohen mockumentary that follows the American travels of a Kazakh journalist. Giuliani's law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani, has offices in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
"I did laugh," Giuliani said. "I probably shouldn't have laughed. And I think it was insensitive in many ways. But I can't help it, it was funny."
Giuliani has never been to Kazakhstan. "I was going to go, but something went wrong," he said.
Giuliani's law firm has been in the news recently. A New York Daily News study of recent Federal Election Commission reports found that "nearly one third" of Bracewell & Giuliani's "roughly 400" attorneys have given money to candidates other than hizzoner. Giuliani has received donations from 20 Bracewell & Giuliani lawyers.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Giuliani devoted his recent trip to western Iowa to his "Ninth Commitment to the American People": "I will reform the legal system and appoint strict constructionist judges." For Giuliani "legal reform" means instituting "loser pays" rules where a plaintiff who loses a suit and is found to have not had a rational basis for bringing the suit in the first place is forced to pay at least some of the defendant's legal costs, and capping damages in tort and contractual suits.