Yet beyond all these practical matters of health, media, and infrastructure, it is the interpersonal aspects of aging that concern me most — and it is those which Giuliani’s behavior brings to mind. “Even among the president’s closest allies,” reports The Atlantic in the story accompanying the “hero” quotes, “Giuliani is now the subject of scorn.” Satirical ads in New York City’s subway catch him in a wild-eyed expression and offer a phone number whose voicemail declares “the law offices of ‘Crazy Rudy’ … specialize in back-channel deals, cable news appearances, and will work when drunk.”

There is no deserved rest here, and certainly no respect. Giuliani is not invited on television to share his wisdom but to participate in spectacle. He is treated — and acts — as a pugilist and a sideshow, not an elder to be honored for his accomplishments or consulted for hard-won prudence. Though certainly possessed of his defenders among the president’s allies and supporters, he is spending his late years awash in public disdain, more laughingstock than dignitary. His insistence that he is the hero, that he merits praise “as someone who has devoted most of his life to straightening out government,” reads to me as some recognition of this circumstance and a desperate plea for it to change.

This is not how old age should be.