By Dana Milbank
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Looking for a bargain outing for the family? Consider a Rudy Giuliani speech.
The Republican presidential candidate and former New York mayor was charging $100,000 per speech before he announced two weeks ago that he was quitting the motivational lecture circuit. Now he can look forward to a year or more of talks like he gave yesterday to the Hoover Institution in the Willard ballroom -- earning nothing but applause.
Had America's Mayor charged the going rate, the 46-minute, 34-second speech would have cost the conservative think tank $2,147.46 per minute, including:
· $5,368.65 for jokes about the weather.
· $21,899.94 for his views on education.
· $9,019.32 for his thoughts on taxes.
Instead, the Hoover fellows got all this free, and more! Giuliani threw in bonus thoughts on foreign policy, such as "We clearly won the Cold War" (that two-second snippet had a market value of $71.58), and "We've never been a perfect country, we're never going to be a perfect country, but we're a good country, so we don't like war" ($214.74 for this six-second gem).
On the other hand, the value-conscious consumer apparently will have to pay full freight if Giuliani is going to say something controversial. The candidate said not a peep about abortion or gay rights. He skipped any mention of Iraq until a questioner asked him.
Finally pressed on Iraq, his two-minute, 28-second answer (a $5,297.04 value) included mentions of immigration, Social Security and class-action lawsuits. "I ran a hospital system, the second- or third-largest in the country. . . . We were paying out $500 million in claims, and settling claims that we just had to settle for amounts of money I would never thought you should give, and I'm a lawyer. That's what I really know about, even more than foreign policy."
Had they been paying customers, the Hoover fellows, drinking Cakebread Chardonnay and Swanson Merlot at noon, may have asked for a small rebate when Giuliani, explaining his switch from Democrat to Republican, cited "Churchill's statement: If you're not a liberal when you're 20 you have no heart, but if you're not a conservative by the time you're 40 you have no brain."
"There is no record of anyone hearing Churchill say this," reports the Churchill Centre.
But this was not a hostile crowd. Though religious conservatives are suspicious about Giuliani, the market conservatives of the Hoover Institution are not. Hoover overseer Bill Simon introduced Giuliani as "hopefully the next president" and recalled his "grace under pressure" on Sept. 11, 2001.
Giuliani had the moves of an experienced motivational speaker. He used his roving microphone to step out on either side of the lectern in ever-lengthening strolls. And he had a few jokes prepared. "When I was a kid . . . snow was terrific," he said. "Then I became mayor of New York, and it's $1 million an inch." That went over well, so he followed with a second, third and fourth snow joke.
His first 30 minutes listed heavily toward platitude. "The founding principle of our party is freedom," he disclosed, further announcing that "our economy is not a government-dominated economy." He also discussed at length his experience with the New York City public schools ("I was very, very big on the Stat programs, ConStat programs, and HealthStat programs and JobsStat programs").
His brief foray into foreign affairs meticulously avoided Iraq. "We've got to say to the rest of the world, 'America doesn't like war, America is not a military country,' " he recommended.
Whatever Americans think about war, Giuliani clearly didn't want to talk about it. The first questioner tried to prod him by asking about those who have a "deep concern" about his lack of "experience in foreign affairs."
"Uh, what makes you think the mayor of New York City doesn't need a foreign policy?" he quipped. He then spoke about his business travel. "I've made about 91, 92 foreign trips and I've spoken in 34, 35 different countries," he said. "So I know the world."
He also would have pulled in a cool $3.5 million if those speeches were at the motivational rate.
Giuliani listed some of the things he learned from his travels: "My view of it is the American president needs to be our leader in foreign policy." And: "Foreign policy is also very much a part of our economy now." Those insights, at the customary rate of $35.79 per second, were worth $178.95 and $107.37, respectively.
The next questioner wanted to know about the Iraq-war resolutions in Congress (this produced Giuliani's answer about the New York City hospital claims) and his view on judicial nominees. "I would select judges based on my view of the Constitution, which is that the separation of powers is an important part of our freedom," he said.
"One more question?" asked the host. Nobody volunteered.
"Who wants to ask it?" Giuliani pressed. Finally, a woman near the front stood up.
"Where in your priority list would incentive pay be under your presidency?" she asked.
"Incentive pay," said a relieved Giuliani, "is critical to almost every institution."
Even to Giuliani himself, apparently. If you want a motivational speech, you're going to have to pay him for it.