In with a bang, out with a whimper. It was an anticlimactic end to Rudy Giuliani’s political career.

The steel-jawed hero of 9/11. The exhausted second-term mayor, revived by the terror attacks. The perfect politician for the Anxiety Age.

So what became of all that promise? How did he manage this power, this platform and this opportunity? Well, here are the high points of Giuliani’s post-9/11 resume: Made lots of money as a motivational speaker and security consultant. Touted Bernie Kerik for Homeland Security chief. Ran or threatened to run for president, governor and senator, approaching each race as presumptive front-runner, bowing out of each of them long before Election Day.

Tuesday, he said he’s too busy to run for anything any time soon.

“I have some very significant commitments for next year that would make it impossible for me to really run full-time for an office,” he said at a Manhattan news conference, endorsing former Republican Rep.

Rick Lazio in the governor’s race. “It would be hard running from Brazil.”

The former mayor ticked off several other countries where Giuliani Partners has lucrative business engagements in the months to come. He hoped to juggle, he said, but concluded he couldn’t. A choice had to be made.

And why is he choosing Rome and Rio over Albany or Washington? In his heart of hearts, what makes Rudy not run?

Smart political people had many theories Tuesday: That he’d grown accustomed to fat private-sector compensation. That beneath the bravado, he harbors secret electability doubts. That the stink of Bernie’s misdeeds still linger. That some fresh personal scandal
threatens to break.

All those scenarios are plausible. None is provable.

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And outsiders rarely manage to climb inside Rudy’s head.

But as Rudy Giuliani steps away from the long campaign limelight, this much is certainly true: He’ll always be America’s 9/11 mayor.

But the glow that once shone on him has faded now. And that fading has been most precipitous in New York.

The terror attacks will always be with us. But the mayor whose trajectory they most lifted is now solidly back on earth.