Giuliani as Gotham's Phoenix

'The phoenix builds the phoenix's nest, Love's architecture is his own.' - English poet Richard Crashaw (1613-1649)

Despite his heroic leadership after the Sept. 11 attacks, Rudolph Giuliani may not win state approval allowing him to stay on as New York City mayor.

But that would be all to the better.

Nothing will be more important to putting a shine back on the Big Apple than appointing Mr. Giuliani as head of a powerful reconstruction commission.

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Not only could he oversee the largest public-works project of its time in lower Manhattan, but he could bring the same sensitivities he showed during the rescue effort in selecting a memorial to the victims, recreating neighborhoods near the financial district, wooing companies to stay, and generally bringing a healing touch with his optimism for the city's future and his defiance of terrorists who tried to bring the capital of the world to its knees.

Many difficult choices lie ahead for a city that lost its traditional swagger and still staggers from the attacks.

Despite his personal problems, Giuliani has the ability to make those tough choices. He transformed the city during his time in office (helped by a booming economy). He's created a better sense of community, made even stronger by the tragedy. And he has the political muscle to fend off pressure from developers who might not be creative enough to rebuild "the zone" around the former World Trade Center to fit a 21st-century city.

Also, New York needs a local leader in charge of rebuilding because almost all the billions in government money will come from Washington and Albany, which will want to pull strings. The trade center site is indirectly controlled by the governors of New York and New Jersey.

Most of all, the city needs a spiritual recovery, especially in overcoming fear of another attack. "There's no reason to have this increased fear," Giuliani said. "[The attack] was a once-in-our-history incident. Day in and day out, this is the safest city in America."

The mayor has led the rescue, helped New Yorkers through their grief, and can now unleash the city's energies to stay on the top of the world.

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