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The Media’s Obsession with Giuliani

Yes, Barack Obama loves America. To suggest that he (or any American president) doesn’t is cheap and ugly, and says more about the person making the remark than it does about the president. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who hasn’t been a Republican politician of consequence for at least six years, did not cover himself in glory by impugning the president’s patriotism the other day, nor have GOP presidential aspirants who have endorsed Giuliani’s statement.

That said, who cares? Dave Weigel of Bloomberg Politics explains why conservatives are right to see a media double standard here. [1] Excerpts:

Was it news? Well, sure! But review the timing: the week before the Giuliani hubbub, the White House introduced a version of an authorization of military force against ISIS. Next week, Congress is looking at a deadline on a must-pass Homeland Security funding bill, with Republicans expected to include riders that will prompt a presidential veto. If you thought it was strange to spend the week in between discussing whether a former New York Mayor was disrespectful to the president, you’re not alone.

So, why’d it happen?

Weigel offers some solid reasons, including:

The media seemed to be making up rules as it went along. In 2008, Barack Obama said it [2] was “unpatriotic” for George W. Bush to add trillions to the national debt. In 2004, Howard Dean warned Democratic voters that there was [3] “a group of people around the President whose main allegiance is to each other and their ideology rather than to the United States.”

And then there was Giuliani. When he spoke, we learned that it was off-limits for someone to question an opponent’s patriotism. The platonic ideal of this sentiment came from Washington Post columnist  [4]Jonathan Capehart:

[Rick] Perry, Giuliani, D’Souza and countless others are part of a larger problem in American political discourse: The constant questioning of whether Obama not only loves this country, but also whether he would do everything in his power to protect it. Those engaging in this destructive discussion are the ones who “don’t love America.”

In two sentences, it’s, one, a problem to question the president’s patriotism, and, two, a responsibility to question the patriotism of people who say this about Obama. There is no escape from this logic hole. Actually, it’s shaped like the hole conservatives dive into when they claim that Obama revealed his true radicalism when he said that his election would “fundamentally transform America,” as if every politician doesn’t run on transforming his state or country or city, and as if—to pick a name entirely at random—Walker’s popularity with Republicans surged when he started transforming decades of labor rights and entitlement spending norms in Wisconsin.

The other day I was at my mom and dad’s, and Fox News was griping on and on about how someone, I think the White House press secretary, had insulted Fox. They even had Karl Rove on to offer his perspective on the anti-Fox horribleness. It’s just so vain and stupid, all of it.

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87 Comments To "The Media’s Obsession with Giuliani"

#1 Comment By LemmysWart On February 23, 2015 @ 6:16 pm

I highly recommend this epic takedown of Giuliani’s comments by one of New York’s most respected journalists:

[5]

Ouch.

#2 Comment By ratnerstar On February 23, 2015 @ 6:39 pm

Meh, I’m with Bernstein: [6]

#3 Comment By M_Young On February 23, 2015 @ 6:59 pm

They both believe in American exceptionalism. The Bush/Giuliani wing of the GOP believes that if you establish the forms of a liberal democracy amongst [Arabs, Haitians, Mexicans] you’ll get something resembling Marin or Sugarland.

The Obama wing..scratch that… the entire ..Democratic party believes if [ Somalis, Haitians, Guatemalans] are just inside the borders of this thing called the US of A, they will behave like the residents of Marin or Sugarland.

Both worldviews suffer from some serious magical thinking as well as denial of empirical facts.

#4 Comment By Liam On February 23, 2015 @ 7:03 pm

Guiliani was promoting his Crank(TM) Brand. Cranks sell well in many circles. Media are amplifying his promotion. It’s only about $$$.

#5 Comment By J. mc.. Fa ul On February 23, 2015 @ 7:45 pm

Giuliani’s racist dog whistle was so loud it was heard by M_Young all the way out in California.

#6 Comment By Allan On February 23, 2015 @ 8:19 pm

Bush certainly wasn’t raised like your average American.

He’s a blue-blood aristocrat. He went to Phillips Academy and was a member of the Skull and Bones at Yale. His dad was the CIA Director, and his grandfather was a senator.

When did he ever have to rob from Peter to pay Paul, or worry about his retirement?

#7 Comment By Sean On February 23, 2015 @ 8:25 pm

I imagine Obama, like many of my fellow citizens, loves America but doesn’t care for ‘Merica.

#8 Comment By TooManyJens On February 23, 2015 @ 8:42 pm

Scott Alexander seems to be under the impression that the way you prove you’re pro-America is by believing (or at least pretending) it’s the best at everything and can’t learn from any other country’s experiences.

#9 Comment By MNP On February 23, 2015 @ 8:57 pm

“To suggest that he (or any American president) doesn’t is cheap and ugly”

Why? Seems like a rule you just have for no particular reason.

#10 Comment By Matt2 On February 23, 2015 @ 9:32 pm

When Giuliani says that Obama doesn’t “love America,” what he means is that Obama doesn’t bask in the glory of the American state often and enthusiastically enough for Giuliani’s liking. Occasionally, the President even, *gasp*, half-assedly acknowledges some atrocity we committed in the past, all the while committing [7] for future liberal presidents to half-assedly acknowledge. And so it goes.

#11 Comment By Glaivester On February 23, 2015 @ 10:04 pm

Barack Obama wants to replace the historic American nation by essentially ignoring all immigration laws and by giving people who are here illegally various “refundable tax credits” (i.e. welfare) and other benefits at the expense of those who live here.

Of course he doesn’t love America. At least, he hates the majority white population with a passion. Virtually everything he does signals this.

How you can still be blind to this astounds me.

#12 Comment By Hibernian On February 23, 2015 @ 11:20 pm

@ Frank Stain: “If the standard was actually loving the country and its (real) people, let’s face it, we would all do miserably, managing at most to love our own tribe. ”

Speak for yourself, buddy.

#13 Comment By Hibernian On February 23, 2015 @ 11:24 pm

@ Sean: “I imagine Obama, like many of my fellow citizens, loves America but doesn’t care for ‘Merica.”

Yeah, because only people with perfect pronunciation are real Americans.

Your comment drips with condescension.

#14 Comment By Sean On February 24, 2015 @ 1:27 am

“Yeah, because only people with perfect pronunciation are real Americans.”

It’s the hyper-nationalistic AMERICA F-YEAH! stereotype I’m making light of. You misunderstand my comment.

‘Merica (or ‘Murica) is a very popular meme.

“Your comment drips with condescension.”

I assure you it was only sarcasm. Have some fun, okay?

#15 Comment By M_Young On February 24, 2015 @ 1:48 am

“Giuliani’s racist dog whistle was so loud it was heard by M_Young all the way out in California.”

Yeah, loud enough to hear over the din of La Raza.

#16 Comment By M_Young On February 24, 2015 @ 1:53 am

“Of course he doesn’t love America. At least, he hates the majority white population with a passion.”

I don’t think its that extreme. I do think he sees white Americans at best as inheritors of ‘unearned privilege’, and associates them (us) in general with a system unfair to blacks and other ‘people of color’. Further, he probably doesn’t think of the accomplishments he approves of as being the product of, by and large, a white, European derived society. He certainly doesn’t care much for the main current of US history up to 1965 or so, except for a few isolated moments (freeing the slaves, etc).

So can a man love something when he has a distaste for so much of its history — perhaps only if it changes beyond recognition. Perhaps only if it is a characterless ‘hodge podge’.

#17 Comment By Fran Macadam On February 24, 2015 @ 2:03 am

It is different when applied to Obama, because the subtext and inference is that he is not an American at all. In this case, the patriot canard is is a code word for the same discredited birther animus. Recall how there was once an inquisition as to why he wasn’t wearing a US flag lapel pin.

I’m not interested in loyalty oaths and tests, I’d prefer competency and good policy – attributes lacking in the governance of both parties, and absent especially from the profligate flag wavers. Like the crooked car dealer who styles himself, “Honest John,” they’re hiding out behind slogans.

#18 Comment By Mont D. Law On February 24, 2015 @ 9:43 am

(In related news, students at Kings College, London, have succeeded in having the stained glass window honoring alumnus Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, removed from the college. Why? Because he’s a dirty rotten homophobe.)

In 1428 the English exhumed Wycliffe, burned his corpse and cast the ashes into the river.

The Lord is lucky all he’s losing is a window.

#19 Comment By A.K. On February 24, 2015 @ 10:14 am

Nothing like America’s Mayor and the current crop of Republican presidential frontrunners reminding everyone in this country who isn’t a white Christian yet again why they shouldn’t bother consider voting for a Republican. Every time they make an issue of reminding the nation that people like Obama are essentially unAmerican interlopers who fail to love, appreciate, and understand America as well as they do they hammer another nail in the coffin of ever receiving the majority of Asian votes, Jewish votes, Latino votes, the Black vote. People are stupid but most aren’t that stupid.

#20 Comment By DeepSouthPopulist On February 24, 2015 @ 11:12 am

Of course Obama hates America’s historic ethnic and Christian core. That ain’t news. From they’re bitter and cling to their guns and religion, to my grandmother is a typical white person, to evil has been done in the name of Christ, that man has never been shy about admitting his hatred of America’s traditional core when given the chance.

Guiliani is telling more of the truth these days now that he doesn’t have to worry about getting elected.

#21 Comment By William Dalton On February 24, 2015 @ 11:15 am

Giuliani wasn’t thinking of making a serious comment. It was just a cheap throw away line given to make people who think the President should get us deeper into war good about their contempt for him. More Republicans should stand up and say how contemptuous we are of politicians who want to get us into more wars and question whether they love America. I’d start with everyone who goes to Netanyahu’s speech before Congress and stands up to cheer for him.

#22 Comment By balconesfault On February 24, 2015 @ 11:16 am

Sorry. I’ve been having conservative friends posting a jpeg of Rudy with the quote in bold lettering on Facebook.

Conservatives are jumping on this as a battle cry. It only makes sense for the media to cover it.

#23 Comment By Noah172 On February 24, 2015 @ 12:09 pm

A.K. wrote:

Every time they make an issue of reminding the nation that people like Obama are essentially unAmerican interlopers who fail to love, appreciate, and understand America as well as they do they hammer another nail in the coffin of ever receiving the majority of Asian votes, Jewish votes, Latino votes, the Black vote

Those four groups vote Democratic, and have been voting Democratic for decades (except “Asians,” which isn’t so much a category as a miscellaneous catch-all), because they are liberal on most issues and perceive the Democrats as a better deal on things which each group cares about most. It is not because the Republicans are meanie racist old white men. Republicans have taken significant substantive steps over the decades — consequential legislation and executive actions — to woo these groups, and have not been rewarded at the ballot box.

And Democrats do the mirror image of what you accuse the Republicans of doing: disparaging whites, Christians, men, heterosexuals, the South, and rural areas to gin up the Democratic base.

#24 Comment By M_Young On February 24, 2015 @ 12:16 pm

” Every time they make an issue of reminding the nation that people like Obama are essentially unAmerican interlopers who fail to love, appreciate, and understand America as well as they do they hammer another nail in the coffin of ever receiving the majority of Asian votes, Jewish votes, Latino votes, the Black vote. People are stupid but most aren’t that stupid.”

Well, GWB certainly tried to Latinize the GOP, with the 2000 convention being esp. egregious. And yet, not even close to a majority of ‘Latino’ votes. It’s sort of a two to tango deal — ‘minorities’ getting to promote their interests and project their identities, often times accompanied by a tale of woe or two in which evil whitey is the villain. And when there is the slightest pushback, whenever an isolated GOP figure goes of message, there are the A.K’s of the world to say –see, told you so, they hate us!

It really is a very clever strategy; probably bad for the polity known as the USA in the long run, but good for Democrats as a political party and, for the time being, ‘Progressives’ as ideologists.

Quite frankly I think the only course for the GOP is to embrace the historical American core — the ‘minority’ people I know would actually respect that.

#25 Comment By M_Young On February 24, 2015 @ 12:17 pm

BTW weren’t these remarks at a meeting of Italian American capos? I though they weren’t “white”.

#26 Comment By DeepSouthPopulist On February 24, 2015 @ 1:11 pm

Nothing like America’s Mayor and the current crop of Republican presidential frontrunners reminding everyone in this country who isn’t a white Christian yet again why they shouldn’t bother consider voting for a Republican. Every time they make an issue of reminding the nation that people like Obama are essentially unAmerican interlopers who fail to love, appreciate, and understand America as well as they do they hammer another nail in the coffin of ever receiving the majority of Asian votes, Jewish votes, Latino votes, the Black vote. People are stupid but most aren’t that stupid.

Actually, yes, many of them are that stupid. The Democrats love their culture war; their partisans and pundits can’t get enough of sounding the alarm about the white Christian menace.

I mean, what do you imagine ordinary people in those demographics gain by voting Democrat for president? The Democrats offer what exactly? They offer a pro-big business, pro-military agenda served with a thick coating of left-wing culture war. The leading Democrats, and their donors in particular, have figured out that is the best way to get the dupes in Blue America to mindlessly support a pro-big business, pro-military agenda. Just serve it up with plenty of nonsense about a war on women, blacks, the white menace, etc. Just as a the Republicans of old did a good job convincing stupid Southerners welfare queens were the problem, rather than big business, the Democrats today do a good job convincing their dupes the problem is not democrat support for the TPP, etc. but old geezers who watch Fox.

Keep on truckin’.

#27 Comment By panda On February 24, 2015 @ 2:40 pm

“And Democrats do the mirror image of what you accuse the Republicans of doing: disparaging whites, Christians, men, heterosexuals, the South, and rural areas to gin up the Democratic base.”

Except for the fact that the majority of Democratic voters are White, and that the biggest Democratic policy initiative- the ACA, and especially the Medicaid expansion, ended up disproportionately benefiting white lower-middle class people, you might have a point.

#28 Comment By panda On February 24, 2015 @ 2:41 pm

Like seriously, do you think that Democrats ahd smuggled in hundreds of thousands of Black lesbians to Kentucky and Arkansas, or did the biggestt beneficiaries of the ACA happen to be exactly the southern, rural, Whites the dems are supposedly out to get? [8]

#29 Comment By panda On February 24, 2015 @ 2:46 pm

“BTW weren’t these remarks at a meeting of Italian American capos? I though they weren’t “white”

For people like you about 80 years ago, not so much, no. Luckily, they got better.

#30 Comment By A.K. On February 24, 2015 @ 3:46 pm

Noah172 –

“Those four groups vote Democratic, and have been voting Democratic for decades (except “Asians,” which isn’t so much a category as a miscellaneous catch-all), because they are liberal on most issues and perceive the Democrats as a better deal on things which each group cares about most. “

I agree with that. I don’t agree that it is simply impossible for Republicans to skim enough votes off the top that they could seriously undermine Democrat Senate and Presidential candidates if they were less insulting, among other things. Who the _ wants to take a day off work to go vote for someone who dismisses people who you can see yourself in as macaca, unAmerican, less than, etc? Damn near nobody. Not insulting people you hope to get to vote for you or at least not hate you so much they don’t feel TOO pressed to go out and vote for the other guy is kinda basic.

M_Young

“Well, GWB certainly tried to Latinize the GOP, with the 2000 convention being esp. egregious. And yet, not even close to a majority of ‘Latino’ votes.  “

He didn’t get the majority of the Latino vote but he got more than McCain and more than Romney – and he got to be president and they didn’t.

“Quite frankly I think the only course for the GOP is to embrace the historical American core — the ‘minority’ people I know would actually respect that. “

But are there enough people who think like you to get the GOP the Presidency again? I think that as a method that works fine for holding the House (at least for now) and for holding the Senate for brief periods and some governor’s houses and legislatures but will it be enough in the long run to get the GOP where it wants to be?

DeepSouthPopulist

“I mean, what do you imagine ordinary people in those demographics gain by voting Democrat for president? The Democrats offer what exactly? They offer a pro-big business, pro-military agenda served with a thick coating of left-wing culture war.  “

So what the R’s have to offer except replacing “left wing culture war” with “right wing culture war”? If two groups are offering the same thing in many respects, but at least one of them doesn’t insult you personally, chances are you’re not gonna opt for the group that makes you feel like an unwelcome interloper.

#31 Comment By M_Young On February 24, 2015 @ 7:01 pm

“For people like you about 80 years ago, not so much, no. Luckily, they got better.”

I’m pretty sure I can find folks commenting, on this blog, within the last year, who claim ‘Italians’ are not ‘white’, or what is the same thing, that there are ‘Italians’ and ‘Irish’ and ‘Germans’ but not whites..

#32 Comment By Commenter Man On February 24, 2015 @ 8:40 pm

You ask: Who cares? It’s the people who have been putting up with the “media obsession” with topics from Birth certificates to Benghazi, that have been playing on the TV channel in your parent’s house. That’s who.

#33 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 24, 2015 @ 10:11 pm

In 2008, Barack Obama said it was “unpatriotic” for George W. Bush to add trillions to the national debt. In 2004, Howard Dean warned Democratic voters that there was ”a group of people around the President whose main allegiance is to each other and their ideology rather than to the United States.”

One can be “unpatriotic” and still “love America.” The comments cited here were specific criticisms of individual acts and commitments. If Giuliani explained, with any specificity, his reasons for a broad characterization, I missed what they were.

#34 Comment By M_Young On February 25, 2015 @ 2:21 am

“or did the biggestt beneficiaries of the ACA happen to be exactly the southern, rural, Whites the dems are supposedly out to get?”

Maybe whites are more law abiding, thus signed up for insurance they perhaps didn’t want. Maybe if the Democrats weren’t in favor of open borders, those ‘southern rural whites’ would have migrated to states like Arizona and California like their okie and arkie predecessors and found good paying jobs waiting for them–instead of poorly paying jobs monopolized by ethnic networks.

#35 Comment By JonF On February 25, 2015 @ 6:23 am

Re: And Democrats do the mirror image of what you accuse the Republicans of doing: disparaging whites, Christians, men, heterosexuals,

Um, the majority of people who vote for Democrats are white, Christian and heterosexual. I’m not sure what the gender break down is, but given that the majority of Democratic candidates are male I doubt they are much into man-bashing. You are confusing the huff-and-puffery of women’s studies (and gay studies) departments with a mainstream party on that much.

#36 Comment By panda On February 25, 2015 @ 9:37 am

“Maybe whites are more law abiding, thus signed up for insurance they perhaps didn’t want. ”

Wrong again. The vast majority of the people who got health insurance in KY and AR are on Medicaid, and therefore earn too little to be mandated to have health insurance.

#37 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 25, 2015 @ 11:07 pm

I’m pretty sure I can find folks commenting, on this blog, within the last year, who claim ‘Italians’ are not ‘white’, or what is the same thing, that there are ‘Italians’ and ‘Irish’ and ‘Germans’ but not whites..

You talking about me? Among others? Let’s be real: there ARE people who CHOOSE TO THINK OF THEMSELVES AS “white.” Whether they get away with it depends, in part, on whether other people who already have an established pattern of calling themselves “white” choose to admit this new kids on the block into the club.

But no, there is no such thing as “being white” in any objective sense.

It is true that the Anglos who owned the “white” franchise refused for a time to admit the Irish, the Italians, if you go way back, even the Germans (Cf. Benjamin Franklin on “the Palatine boors), although it is true that Angles and Saxons originally came from what is now Germany, more or less (borders having shifted in several more recent wars).

It is also true that in early colonial Virginia, the most insulting ethnic slur was “Scotch man,” and everyone was referenced by ethnicity, not by any notion of “white.”

There was a genteel black school teacher who was beloved of the Italian immigrant community in Cleveland. She was an erudite, socially respectable American who helped the newcomers assimilate. Decades later, third generation Italians living in the neighborhood rallied as “whites” to keep “the blacks” from moving in. And no, all of those blacks seeking to move in were not genteel and erudite — but not all of them weren’t.

So if a bunch of Italians are calling themselves “white,” maybe they can be taken as an example of what “white” means in the time and place where they are calling themselves that. Or maybe not. But what it really means don’t amount to a hill of beans.