– WASHINGTON – In our current political climate of spitting on members of Congress and threatening to kill those you disagree with, revenge served cold looks like democracy at its finest. For this, we have former Mayor Rudy Giuliani to thank.

You will remember that in the campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, Giuliani — like millions of New Yorkers before him — went to Florida to die.

Relying on his residual fame from 9/11 and a good tan from spending the winter in Miami Beach instead of Iowa or New Hampshire, he put all his eggs in the Sunshine State basket. This ended badly when John McCain squeezed him out of the presidential race like a Tropicana orange.

Giuliani blames his flameout not on himself but on Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who back in 2008 was one of the most popular Republicans in the country. Invited by Giuliani and his wife, Judith, to their summer home in the Hamptons, Crist, according to Giuliani, agreed one morning at breakfast to support him.

A pledge over eggs and bacon is such a solemn one that Giuliani premised his entire primary strategy on it.

The weekend before the primary, with McCain visiting Florida for the Pinellas County Lincoln Day Dinner, Crist announced that McCain was his guy. Three days later Giuliani’s presidential ambitions were dead, perhaps forever.

This week he went back to the scene of the crime to return the favor.

WAY TOO MANY DEATH THREATS

Speaking to a jammed banquet hall in Coral Gables, Giuliani endorsed Crist’s upstart Republican challenger, Marco Rubio, a young conservative beloved of Tea Partiers, as the person “we can trust to represent Republican principles in Washington.”

Mean? Vindictive? Enough to propel Crist to salvage his candidacy by running as an independent? Yes on all counts. We’d expect no less from Giuliani, who once punished a councilman by putting a homeless shelter in his neighborhood.

And how he enjoyed getting back at Crist. Barely bothering to argue that his decision was about Rubio, he insisted on a conference call with bloggers that it wasn’t about “whether Charlie Crist broke his word with me on several occasions. He did — that’s the reality, that’s the truth — he did break his word.”

His relish of the moment makes it a teachable one for how to get back at those who do you wrong, who vote in ways you don’t like, with whom you disagree. Don’t accost your political enemies physically. Don’t threaten to kill them. Try old-fashioned payback at the ballot box.

How did we get to the place where murder is broached as a response to a piece of legislation? Yelling out like a madman at a joint session of Congress, hurling “baby killer” at a pro-life member voting for health care (one convinced there were no abortion funds in the bill), and encouraging your supporters to “reload” is heard by the sane and insane alike.

There are so many reports of death threats and vandalism across the country that the FBI — busy with other things, we can assume — has to protect lawmakers.

Republicans thought Democrats were exaggerating the threats until one man was arrested for targeting Eric Cantor, the House Republican whip. Norman Leboon, who claimed to be the “son of the god of Enoch,” posted a video on YouTube vowing to hit “Lucifer” with “bullets in your office.” He’s now in custody.

BALLOT BOX NO LONGER GOOD ENOUGH

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., got repeated calls from a blocked number saying, “there’s a target on your back now” and “it takes only one piece of lead.” The FBI traced the calls to the Yakima-area home of Charles Alan Wilson, who said he carries a .38-caliber revolver for which he has a concealed-weapon permit.

What happened to voting against somebody you don’t like? Murray is up for re-election this year.

Sen. Tom Coburn, the arch-conservative doctor from Oklahoma, turned thoughtful this week at a town hall meeting recorded by KGOU radio. He defended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom the Republican National Committee pictures going up in flames in a fundraising appeal, as a nice lady despite being “180 degrees in opposition” to her.

More ominously for his own career, Coburn corrected a woman who said she feared imprisonment should she not buy insurance. That kind of misinformation, he said, makes “for good TV news on Fox.”

Before Giuliani got on his case, Crist was pummeled by Fox for accepting stimulus funds for his state, coming as they did from that socialist Obama. If Coburn doesn’t watch his step, he may test whether Fox can send a politician into retirement with or without the help of “America’s mayor.”

– Bloomberg News Service