01/29/2008 06:41 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Is Rudy Giuliani the Max Bialystock of Politics?

Rudy Giuliani's stunningly stupid "Florida Strategy" has been the subject of speculation and the butt of jokes for months -- a strategic failure of historic proportions that has instantly become a classic case study in how not to run a presidential campaign. It is fitting that a man whose national profile was forged in disaster has run one of the most disastrous campaigns of all time, frittering away his apparent frontrunner status in only a matter of weeks.

But could Giuliani and his high-paid strategists really have been that stupid? Or, is it possible that the Florida Strategy has actually worked exactly as planned?

While the rest of the presidential field were trudging through the snows of Iowa and New Hampshire, trading rhinoviruses with voters in diners and VFW halls throughout the heartland, Giuliani and his team were leisurely soaking up the rays in sunny Florida, making a few appearances, playing a little golf, and all the while laying claim to the Sunshine State's winner-take-all primary. While Romney, McCain and Huckabee were emptying their campaign coffers duking it out in Nevada and Michigan and South Carolina, Giuliani apparently spent his $50 million-plus campaign war chest on what...? Sunscreen and greens fees? Two percent of the vote, and a single national delegate? According to media reports the Giuliani campaign is so broke his top staffers have foregone their salaries, raising questions of how he could have spent so much money for such poor results? But perhaps the better question might be, did he actually spend the money at all?

Think about it. Giuliani may be arrogant and vindictive and ethically challenged, but nobody's ever accused the man of being stupid, so perhaps he and his advisers knew all along that he didn't stand a chance on the national stage once Americans really got to know him. But just because he couldn't win the White House didn't mean he couldn't make a little scratch on the side, and taking a lesson from Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom in Mel Brooks' legendary The Producers, perhaps Giuliani realized he could make a helluva lot more money from a presidential flop than he ever could from a respectable run?

How would the scam work? Simple. Raise tens of millions of dollars while you're riding high in the national polls, but stay out of the expensive media wars in the early primaries to "focus on Florida." Then when you're Florida strategy inevitably fails, you bow out of the race, having spent all your cash on high-priced "consultants" for, well, who knows what? Once out of the national spotlight, Giuliani and his "consultants" just split the loot and fly off to Rio, just in time for Carnival.

Sure, Bialystock and Bloom are fictional characters, but then, in many ways, so is "America's Mayor." And while it may seem a fantastical fit of Truther-worthy paranoia to suggest that the entire Giuliani campaign was never anything more than an elaborate con, well... it's as reasonable an explanation for Giuliani's mind-numbingly idiotic Florida Strategy as anything else we've heard thus far.

[David Goldstein blogs on WA state politics at