DEEP FRIED TWINKIES AND A COW MADE OF BUTTER? THAT REMINDS ME OF SEPTEMBER 11. For a brief moment, it seemed that Rudy Giuliani was laying off the September 11 references just a bit, perhaps out of an awareness that if he lays it on too thick, people might start asking whether walking down a street pointing dramatically while being filmed, and giving a couple of good press conferences, really qualifies one to be leader of the free world. But fear not: it’s always September 12 in Rudyville, particularly when confronted by a potentially hostile conservative audience. Speaking before the NRA, Rudy explained why his history of criticizing the group as extremists and his lawsuit against gun manufacturers are just bygones that should be bygones. Although he wasn't specific about whether he now favors providing every man, woman and child with an AR-15 to mow down the terrorists who could soon be crawling through our streets, he did say that September 11 put "a whole different emphasis on the things America needs to do to protect itself, and maybe even a renewed emphasis on the Second Amendment." Uh-huh.

Is this the most tortured shoehorning of September 11 into an unrelated discussion Rudy has ever managed? Not by a long shot. For my money, that would be this laugher, offered in February at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California. A guy from New York City, out of place at an event known as “The Greatest Farm Show on Earth”? Worry not:

Amid the almond fields, overalls, and talk of irrigation reform, no place in America seems farther away from that gray, dark pit in lower Manhattan.

Still, five minutes into his speech, Rudy Giuliani, casually dressed in blue blazer, black loafers, and a V-neck sweater, finds his way to September 11. The mayor begins by admitting he doesn’t know much about ag policy, but that he’s a quick study. What he does know, he says, he learned on 9/11.

“We depend on each other. I always knew that, but that really got into my heart, my soul, in a way I’ll never forget, on September 11, 2001,” says Giuliani. “You realize how much we depend on each other. We depend on you a lot for food for sustenance.”

So true. This seems a message particularly well-suited to farmers in Iowa. Who among us can look at a field of corn or soybeans, and not think of September 11? Mitt Romney had better watch his back on caucus night. Come to think of it, when I think of the Iowa caucuses, I'm reminded of the passengers on United 93 ... I'll stop there.

--Paul Waldman

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