Giuliani’s Lost Playbook

If you are a professional or college athlete, one of the worst things you can do is lose your playbook. This is also a really bad idea if you work for someone who’s trying to be president of the United States. But that’s what happened to Rudy Giuliani: someone left behind his master plan, and someone from a rival’s camp got hold of it and leaked it to the New York Daily News.

Assuming that the information is legit, and it certainly seems to be, then the conventional wisdoms about Giuliani’s chances would seem to be spot-on: a) he may not really want the presidency enough to abandon his very profitable private life after many years in public service; and b) his variety of personal and political entanglements may make him unelectable anyway.

The lost plans “depict a candidate torn between his prosperous business and a political future full of both promise and risk,” writes Ben Smith in the News. “One page cites the explicit concern that he might ‘drop out of [the] race’ as a consequence of his potentially ‘insurmountable’ personal and political vulnerabilities. On the same page is a list of the candidate’s central problems in bullet-point form: his private sector business; disgraced former aide Bernard Kerik; his third wife, Judith Nathan Giuliani; ‘social issues,’ on which is he is more liberal than most Republicans, and his former wife Donna Hanover.”

If you’re playing the Information Asymmetry game, and I would argue that politics certainly qualifies as such, Rule No. 1 should probably be to keep the asymmetry as pronounced as possible. Every G.O.P. candidate is well aware of Giuliani’s shortcomings, real and perceived, but to have them laid out like this for all the world to see strikes me as potentially disastrous. It will be interesting to see how his fund-raising efforts, among other things, are affected by this leak. This will also make it a bit more likely for people to remember that until 9/11 happened, New York City couldn’t wait to bid Mayor Giuliani farewell.

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COMMENTS: 22


  1. Chris Mealy says:

    Nope. The idea is to get all of it out in the open as soon as possible. Think of GWB’s checkered past. By 2000, wrongly or not, it was all regarded as old news. I doubt this was in inside job, but it shouldn’t worry them to much. Or back in sports terms, if you can hit ‘em with “three yards and a cloud of dust” it doesn’t matter if they know your plays.

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  2. Chris Mealy says:

    Nope. The idea is to get all of it out in the open as soon as possible. Think of GWB’s checkered past. By 2000, wrongly or not, it was all regarded as old news. I doubt this was in inside job, but it shouldn’t worry them to much. Or back in sports terms, if you can hit ‘em with “three yards and a cloud of dust” it doesn’t matter if they know your plays.

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  3. BRKelley says:

    First Kerik and now this bozo?

    Though not a Giuliani-te, I tend to think this says more about the quality of his staff (or lack thereof) than the would-be candidate himself.

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  4. BRKelley says:

    First Kerik and now this bozo?

    Though not a Giuliani-te, I tend to think this says more about the quality of his staff (or lack thereof) than the would-be candidate himself.

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  5. John Fembup says:

    “until 9/11 happened, New York City couldn’t wait to bid Mayor Giuliani farewell”

    I accept that was true within your circle of friends. Nevertheless, the man was twice elected as a Republican by large majorities in a town where Democrat registration is overwhelming. You really should get out more.

    BTW, I asked you before, though half in jest whether you and Steve plan to rename this blog Freakopolitics.

    I am honestly not interested in reading, here, the same kind of humorless bias that appears every day in the New York Times – Carmen Climaco and all that.

    So I’m asking again, this time not nearly half in jest. Will Freakonomics continue to serve up economics insights with your former dash of humor and generous helpings of wit? Or not?

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  6. John Fembup says:

    “until 9/11 happened, New York City couldn’t wait to bid Mayor Giuliani farewell”

    I accept that was true within your circle of friends. Nevertheless, the man was twice elected as a Republican by large majorities in a town where Democrat registration is overwhelming. You really should get out more.

    BTW, I asked you before, though half in jest whether you and Steve plan to rename this blog Freakopolitics.

    I am honestly not interested in reading, here, the same kind of humorless bias that appears every day in the New York Times – Carmen Climaco and all that.

    So I’m asking again, this time not nearly half in jest. Will Freakonomics continue to serve up economics insights with your former dash of humor and generous helpings of wit? Or not?

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  7. valisjason says:

    Geez, sounds like you are trying to bully the authors into not writing about politics. Chill out. It wasnt even a very controversial opinion. After his disastrous Senate bid and all the “marital trouble” … Guiliani was not an incredibly popular person in the city. He was respected, but I think generally people were looking forward to a change. That of course changed on 9/11 when Rudy compared quite favorable to the bumbling Bush. Oh wait, is that too much politics for you?

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  8. valisjason says:

    Geez, sounds like you are trying to bully the authors into not writing about politics. Chill out. It wasnt even a very controversial opinion. After his disastrous Senate bid and all the “marital trouble” … Guiliani was not an incredibly popular person in the city. He was respected, but I think generally people were looking forward to a change. That of course changed on 9/11 when Rudy compared quite favorable to the bumbling Bush. Oh wait, is that too much politics for you?

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  9. 3612 says:

    Concerning choice of blog subj: It’s your thang, do whatcha wanna do [sorry if I sing out of tune]

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  10. 3612 says:

    Concerning choice of blog subj: It’s your thang, do whatcha wanna do [sorry if I sing out of tune]

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  11. BRK says:

    It’s important for Rudi not to let reality intrude on the image he’s trying to craft. Unfortunately, given the sorry state of political reporting, it takes an event like this to spell it out for the scribes.

    Contra Fembup, it should be noted that NYC has had a few Repub mayors while its remained majority Democratic town, that popularity fades after a period of non-performance and/or scandal, and in a very real sense Rudi’s political hide was saved by his response to 9/11. It needs to be remembered that the city’s recovery was shaped by thousands of dedicated folks, without whom Rudi, Dubya, et. al. would still be standing on the ruins with their bullhorns.

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  12. BRK says:

    It’s important for Rudi not to let reality intrude on the image he’s trying to craft. Unfortunately, given the sorry state of political reporting, it takes an event like this to spell it out for the scribes.

    Contra Fembup, it should be noted that NYC has had a few Repub mayors while its remained majority Democratic town, that popularity fades after a period of non-performance and/or scandal, and in a very real sense Rudi’s political hide was saved by his response to 9/11. It needs to be remembered that the city’s recovery was shaped by thousands of dedicated folks, without whom Rudi, Dubya, et. al. would still be standing on the ruins with their bullhorns.

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  13. John Fembup says:

    Oh wait, is that too much politics for you?

    Yeah, it is. You guys are boring.

    And thanks Stephen for your answer. At least you can’t screw up the book.

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  14. John Fembup says:

    Oh wait, is that too much politics for you?

    Yeah, it is. You guys are boring.

    And thanks Stephen for your answer. At least you can’t screw up the book.

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  15. WillClark says:

    I’m always delighted when people complain about the content of a free service.

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  16. WillClark says:

    I’m always delighted when people complain about the content of a free service.

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  17. gsc says:

    People in NYC are so utterly jaded, yes I’m a resident. I’m pretty sure one of the factors in Juliani’s amazing “clean-up” of our city was creating an even larger divide between economic classes. If you look at NYC today, the effect is so evident, it almost seems like there is an elite professional class being supported by lower class “worker bees” working everyday low paying jobs. How can anyone take potential presidential candidate serious that effectively worked towards eliminating a middle class.

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  18. gsc says:

    People in NYC are so utterly jaded, yes I’m a resident. I’m pretty sure one of the factors in Juliani’s amazing “clean-up” of our city was creating an even larger divide between economic classes. If you look at NYC today, the effect is so evident, it almost seems like there is an elite professional class being supported by lower class “worker bees” working everyday low paying jobs. How can anyone take potential presidential candidate serious that effectively worked towards eliminating a middle class.

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  19. Andy from Houston says:

    Speaking of conventional wisdom, it amazes me that pundits on talk shows promote Giuliani as a formidable candidate considering his hostile, recent divorce from Donna Hanover. Interestingly, she is now an online love and sex coach for AOL.

    Ronald Reagan is the only divorced president who was elected by the American public – the split occurred in 1948 and was caused by the death of his child.

    Even though around half of marriages in America end in divorce, I do believe there is a stigma attached to divorced presidential candidates.

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  20. Andy from Houston says:

    Speaking of conventional wisdom, it amazes me that pundits on talk shows promote Giuliani as a formidable candidate considering his hostile, recent divorce from Donna Hanover. Interestingly, she is now an online love and sex coach for AOL.

    Ronald Reagan is the only divorced president who was elected by the American public – the split occurred in 1948 and was caused by the death of his child.

    Even though around half of marriages in America end in divorce, I do believe there is a stigma attached to divorced presidential candidates.

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  21. kate q says:

    Giuliani has a lot of negatives for conservatives, but there are two things to keep in mind:

    1) We don’t know yet what he would do differently if elected. He knows what conservatives think; would he be willing to change his MO when moving from a Liberal state to a conservative country?

    2) Consider the opposition. McCain is a no-go, and Romney is an unknown quantity with his own baggage (yes, beyond the Mormon thing).

    Conservatives are currently disgusted and horrified at the weakness and betrayal they perceive coming from the WH. Many could tolerate some questionable personal morals in exchange for rock-solid policy and strong, charismatic leadership.

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  22. kate q says:

    Giuliani has a lot of negatives for conservatives, but there are two things to keep in mind:

    1) We don’t know yet what he would do differently if elected. He knows what conservatives think; would he be willing to change his MO when moving from a Liberal state to a conservative country?

    2) Consider the opposition. McCain is a no-go, and Romney is an unknown quantity with his own baggage (yes, beyond the Mormon thing).

    Conservatives are currently disgusted and horrified at the weakness and betrayal they perceive coming from the WH. Many could tolerate some questionable personal morals in exchange for rock-solid policy and strong, charismatic leadership.

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