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Being There is Just Not Enough!

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While I was in the Alitalia lounge in Milan almost 20 years ago waiting to board the endless flight to Los Angeles, I had a conversation with a couple waiting for the same flight. The man was an entertainment executive, and he had been at Columbia Pictures for several years after I had left that studio.

He never asked me what business I was in as I expect that this would have taken time away from his telling me how important he was, and all of the great things he had done in his career.

I listened to him claim credit for every movie ever made by Columbia during his tenure, and as he segued into television, he made a grandiose claim as to the content he had brought into the studio that was worth a few billion dollars.

His wife (the 5th as I later discovered) listening closely to her husband showing off was perceptive enough to notice my body language and facial expressions asked me "Norman, you appear not to agree with what my husband just told you about the things he did in television at Columbia, is there a reason?" They cringed when I responded that everything that he had taken credit for I had done.

He had "JUST BEEN THERE" so I expect that he thought that it was OK to take credit for "JUST BEING THERE.

In the "Studio Business" it is axiomatic that credit for successful stuff is taken by a swarm of people who just happened to have been around when something took place. I have met countless people who have claimed that they were responsible for creating "All In the Family."

I have often wondered how President Bush managed to take "credit" for the events of 9/11 when he should have been criticized as the person in charge when it happened.

With the horrible assassination in Pakistan this week, it is similarly appalling to hear that Rudolph Giuliani is returning to the themes that transformed him into a popular national figure six years ago. He like President Bush somehow manages to "take credit" in some perverse way for "being there" when we were attacked. How weird! That is not to say that at the time his "presence" on the scene was not a positive one for the people of New York. When you look past this however, it is not easy to find other things that he did as Mayor that would qualify him in the least for the Presidency.

I will present a crummy metaphor for all of this with apologies, in that I believe that just being "present" when an event takes place is not quite enough for you to "take credit" for that event.

In baseball, when the infielders make an out, they celebrate the event by "throwing the ball around the infield." What if, when an outfielder made an out, they did not celebrate the moment by "throwing the ball around" the outfield, but instead, they threw the ball to the nearest infielder, who began the celebratory ritual of throwing the ball around. The infielders were "there" and took the opportunity to celebrate the putout.

Mayor Giuliani is "throwing the ball around" and in a way celebrating the horrors of 9/11, and somehow taking credit for it. His television appearances and commercials fall into the category of do not worry, we will be in charge here and we will keep you safe, and the Democrats will only talk about stuff and do nothing and you will be in danger.

The BEST you can say is that President Bush and Mayor Giuliani are among those who just happened to "be there" when a horrid event took place.

Just being somewhere when tragedy happens is not enough to quality you for the presidency of the United States!

Why not close with another crummy metaphor? Football fans still cheer their team on by shouting "hit 'em, hit 'em, hit 'em again, harder, harder" and the Republican strategists have come up with an even better cheer of "scare 'em, scare 'em, scare 'em again, harder, harder."