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Can you keep it up for eight minutes?

I’m telling you. Life is better in Washington. In UD‘s city, if you can just keep talking for seven, eight minutes tops, you can earn twenty to forty thousand dollars!

And it gets better. You probably don’t even have to write the speech! At these rates, you can be generous with your speech writer. Show up, stand up, mouth some words somebody else wrote, grab the check.

Here, for instance, are some notes from recent DC speeches on behalf of an Iranian group.

Gen. [Anthony] Zinni’s speaker agent confirmed that Zinni was… paid his “standard speaking fee” for an eight-minute address at an MEK-related conference in January — between $20,000 and $30,000… As for whether he had any qualms about how much the speakers were compensated for addressing the groups, [John] Sano, who delivered [one conference’s] longest remarks with a 14 minute speech, paused and thought…

Yeah, there’s the whole pause and think option… which some have taken:

Despite offers of up to $40,000 for notably brief remarks, sources with knowledge of speaker negotiations said at least four invited speakers have declined this year because they had questions about the [group’s] ultimate goals…

Clear up the questions about your goals and I’d be delighted to be limo’ed to your feast, say out loud like a good boy the eight minutes’ worth of words my speech writer wrote, take a check from you for forty thousand dollars and be driven home. That’d be great.

The author of the article from which I’ve been quoting cautions the reader:

Unless a speaker has a can’t-lose stock tip, nobody is inherently worth $20,000 for a six-minute speech…


The author of the article questions this Harvard professor, who along with Zinni and Sano has made a killing this way. She responds with some major backoffology:

“I was invited to speak at a conference on the Arab Spring and I received a speaker fee… My remarks were aimed at an Iranian American audience that was concerned about Camp Ashraf. I, too, am concerned about the ongoing humanitarian situation there. But I would not want my presence at the conference to be equated with a position on the delisting of the MEK.”

Well, instead of taking nothing for the speech (you were motivated to give it, you say, by humanitarian rather than material concerns), you took tens of thousands of dollars from the group sponsoring it. So it doesn’t really look as if you have no position on the delisting of this organization.

Delisting from what, by the way? From our country’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.


Throw this professor in with the Monitor Group, Lawrence Summers, Andrei Shleifer, and the rest of the Harvard crew, and you understand why Frank Rich and UD laugh so heartily when the New York Times publishes opinion pieces by Ma Ingalls about the evils of materialism.

Margaret Soltan, August 9, 2011 11:08AM
Posted in: professors

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