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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.