Giuliani's greedy decision to quit the Iraq Study Group.

Military analysis.
June 21 2007 6:44 PM

The Man Who Knows Too Little

What Rudy Giuliani's greedy decision to quit the Iraq Study Group reveals about his candidacy.

Rudy Giuliani 
Click image to expand.
Rudy Giuliani

If you don't read Newsday, you might not know (I didn't until this week) that Rudy Giuliani was an original member of the Iraq Study Group—the blue-ribbon commission co-chaired by James Baker and Lee Hamilton—but he was forced out after failing to show up for any of the panel's meetings.

The day after the Newsday story appeared, Giuliani explained that he'd started thinking about running for president, and his presence on the panel might give it a political spin. "It didn't seem that I'd really be able to keep the thing focused on a bipartisan, nonpolitical resolution," he said.

Advertisement

The more likely reason for Giuliani's no-shows is much plainer—money. Craig Gordon, the Newsday reporter who wrote the story in the Long Island paper's June 19 edition, discovered that on the three days of meetings that Giuliani missed (before quitting), he was out of town, delivering highly lucrative speeches.

On April 12, 2006, he was giving a keynote address at an economics conference in South Korea for a fee of $200,000. On May 18, he was giving a speech on leadership in Atlanta for $100,000.

At that point, Baker gave Giuliani an ultimatum: Start showing up for sessions, or quit. On May 24, he quit, noting in a letter (provided to Gordon) that prior commitments prevented him from giving the panel his "full and active participation." (He was replaced by former Attorney General Edwin Meese, a puzzling choice for the job; maybe he was the only public figure Baker could find on such short notice. According to someone I know who attended one session, the elderly Meese "was barely conscious.")

Meanwhile, Giuliani was raking in exorbitant speaking fees around this time—according to Gordon, $11.4 million in the course of 14 months, $1.7 million for 20 speeches during the monthlong period that coincided with the Baker-Hamilton sessions.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. I doubt that I would have forgone six figures of easy income for the privilege of yakking about Iraq with a roomful of graybeards all day long. Then again, I wasn't about to run for president—the highest office of publicservice—on a résumé bereft of a single foreign-policy credential.

Rudy's choice—to go for the money—speaks proverbial volumes about his priorities.

His explanation for dropping out—that his impending run for the presidency would tarnish the panel's apolitical character—is dubious, to say the least.

First, it's not as if he signed up for the panel, then decided to run for president. He'd been set to run for months, if not years. (He seriously considered the idea—even gave a couple of fund-raising speeches in New Hampshire—as far back as late 1999.)

TODAY IN SLATE

Jurisprudence

Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Colorado Is Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Culturebox

Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
The Slate Quiz
Sept. 18 2014 11:44 PM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.