"I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,"
-- Rudy Giuliani (R-NY), speaking about President Barack Obama
While Mr. Giuliani shocked most of America with his statement -- though, to be clear, the shock was to discover that remarkably he could utter a sentence without using the phrase, "9/11" -- what may be most interesting is that the White House agreed with him. When asked for a comment, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz replied that, yes, "It was a horrible thing to say."
Although Mr. Giuliani's single sentence has gotten the most attention from a private dinner (read, "fundraiser") in New York for Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), the former New York City mayor continued with additional thoughts. "He doesn't love you. And he doesn't love me. He wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country."
Surprisingly, to be fair, much of these latter comments might actually be true. Since Barack Obama, who is black, if you hadn't heard, was raised by a single white mother and white grandparents, it's most probable that the love with which he was brought up isn't remotely the same as any of the wealthy white Republicans in that room. Further, given how off-the-wall desperate Mr. Giuliani has been ever since his own presidential hopes collapsed seven years ago faster than an Olympic sprinter, and the once-thoughtful Republican has seemingly lost all thoughts except pit-bull attacks against the president, it's quite possible that President Obama does not love him. And given how much the far-right in general has attacked the President as a Kenyan Nazi terrorist socialist, it's not unreasonable to think that, since they well might have made up the bulk of that room, Mr. Obama might not particularly love them much either.
Other than that, though, it was all just pretty sad.
But despite all the attention and widespread criticism Mr. Giuliani's comments got, they really don't amount to much on their own. After all, what the former New York City mayor thinks doesn't amount to much in today's world. These days, what Rudy Giuliani says are largely empty words in a near-empty space, desperate for attention along the lines of a Kardashian. He has long-since established his bona fides as becoming a sad figure on the public stage. As such, his words weren't even remotely the most-sad thing about the affair.
It's that the guest of honor Gov. Walker himself was asked about what Rudolph Giuliani had said, and this man who wants to be leader of the free world and Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Armed Forces was too cowardly to offer a comment. (We now have a pattern. Apparently, Scott Walker's default answer to all questions he doesn't like is to "punt" on them.) And Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) -- who also wants to come President of the entire United States -- was later asked his thoughts, as well, and he chimed in that the "gist" of what former Mayor Giuliani said "was true." Still, at least he answered. Alas, no one bothered to ask him what part of the "gist" he was referring to. Perhaps Mr. Jindal believes what's true is that Rudy Giuliani does not believe the President loves America.
(Worse, Bobby Jindal followed-up later and went even further, which one would have thought impossible. He said, "I hate to say this, but we have a president right now who is not qualified to be our Commander-in-Chief.” Note to Bobby Jindal: Barack Obama has in fact been Commander-in-Chief for six years, so his qualifications for the job are pretty well established. If one doesn't like the job he's doing, that's personal choice. But qualified for it at this point? That train has long-since left the station. But at least I can understand why Mr. Jindal would hate to say it,
For all the national criticism, one would think that all the other Republican candidates for the high post of President of the United States would have been absolutely thrilled to jump on their opponents for such thoughtless, obvious gaffes. But all we got was silence. Nothing from Rand Paul (R-KY, nothing from Ted Cruz (R-TX), nothing from Chris Christie (R-NJ), nothing from Jeb Bush (R-FL), nothing from...well, okay, who cares what Ben Carson (R-who knows?) has to say, but he was still silent, too. In fact, there has been only one GOP contender, Marco Rubio (R-FL), who contradicted Mr. Giuliani, saying that there was "no doubt" Barack Obama loved America. Well, gee, ya think?
That's the sad thing about all this. And it's not what Rudolph Giuliani yammers. It's that the state of the Republican Party today is such that candidates for President of the United States (!!!) are virtually required to not dare refute it. And are too frightened to.
The sad thing is that today's far-right GOP, so accustomed to living in the past, where blacks knew their place, and no black person could become President, still think it makes sense to attack Barack Obama for being "different," just like they did seven years ago when he was "that one," running for the office and largely unknown to the public. They haven't grasped that that ship has long since sailed -- the American public not only knows who Barack Obama is, they've figured out that they twice elected him President of the United States.
And still, the far right base thinks they can rile the base by claiming he doesn't love America, like they did when they jumped on Barack and Michelle Obama seven years ago for giving a supposed "terrorist fist bump." The far right base so hates that this black man is in office that they're willing to be blind that his approval ratings has been going up, above 50%, because the American public sees that unemployment has dropped all the way to 5.8% -- the lowest unemployment has been in nearly seven years since the economy collapsed under George W. Bush. And because jobs have increased for 53 consecutive months. And the budget deficit has plummeted a billion dollars, now at $486 billion, down from $1.4 trillion the year President Obama took office. And because polls show that the vast majority of the public is very satisfied with their health care under Mr. Obama's Affordable Care Act.
But still, the far-right GOP thinks they can gain support by claiming that the President of the United States doesn't love America.
And GOP candidates for President think they'll lose the nomination if they simply disagree and say instead that, no, they believe Mr. Obama loves America. That's what comes from spending seven years trying to convince their base that Barack Obama is the agent of the devil. You dig a deep hole, you have to lie in it.
(By the way, consider this about how bad it is in today's GOP: these silent Presidential candidates don't even believe they could get away in their party saying something as "thoughtful" as -- Barack Obama has done a horrible, divisive, disastrous, pathetic job that has so crushingly hurt the country, and while, no, he loves America, he just doesn't have a clue how to govern and is totally, deeply incompetent. Apparently, saying that would be deemed too positive and lose support of The Base.)
Hey, they don't call it "base" for nothing...
And by the way, lost in all this is the reality that...Barack Obama isn't running for President! Saying he didn't love America was a horrific argument when he was running and unknown, but now?? Seriously, what's the point? To rile that base against him?? Guys, if the GOP far-right base doesn't think the worst of Barack Obama by now, you haven't been doing your job.
And in the end, that's why -- pathetic as the GOP response has been to Mr. Giuliani's silly, silly, sad statement -- I think the statement and silence (and support of it) is the best thing for the Democratic Party. And destructive for the Republican Party. Because the question will get raised in the general election about why the candidate had been silent before, and wondering if that showed a lack of leadership? And the 92% of Americans who know the President obviously loves America and don't have to give it a second thought -- and all those who are okay with the direction the country is going -- are going to be appalled at such craven, racist attacks and cowardly response. Just like Bill Clinton's approval ratings soared when the GOP impeached him, and the fate of the Democrats rose with him in the next election.
In the words of another great Republican, "Bring it on."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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