The media rushes to defend Obama’s honor from Rudy Giuliani

posted at 10:01 am on February 20, 2015 by Noah Rothman

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani accused President Barack Obama of not loving his country. Some agreed with those comments; others thought they were silly and even a little offensive. When the former mayor went on to defend that assertion, he insisted that Obama’s personal background and progressives’ antipathy toward European colonial history generally informed his opinions on matters including Islamic radicalism and the moral value of the Crusades. Again, some thought these remarks were tasteless and unfounded while others believed that Giuliani had a point.

The press, predictably, fell all to one side of this controversy. Many in the media reacted as though Giuliani’s comments were an assault on the honor of the president and the country. The rush to condemn the former mayor in terms stronger than those of the last denouncer was stunning. For the political press, this affront demanded satisfaction.

MSNBC’s Steve Benen called the mayor “clownish.” The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson strongly implied that Giuliani was racist. Writing in The New York Daily News, Wayne Barrett noted that Giuliani secured a deferment allowing him to avoid service in the Vietnam War, and added that documents indicate his convict father and five uncles also managed to avoid service in World War II. Who’s the patriot now, huh?

And then a curious but familiar phenomenon occurred. The original comments exhausted of their news value and having squeezed every ounce of convincingly authentic outrage out of the story, the media went on to make this a two-day event by seeking reaction quotes. Every Republican worth his or her salt was soon expected to comment on remarks uttered by political figure who has not held elected office since 2001.

“The mayor can speak for himself,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was asked by CNBC host Andrew Ross Sorkin. “I’ll tell you, I love America.”

Insufficient. Cowardly! Walker was probed again. “I’m in New York,” Walker finally ceded. “I’m used to people saying things that are aggressive out there.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has made a habit of taking every opportunity available to him in order to position himself to the right of the conservative electorate ahead of 2016, said he agreed with Giuliani. “If you are looking for someone to condemn the mayor, look elsewhere,” the governor said, adding that he agreed with the “gist” of the former Big Apple mayor’s comments.

And, thus, a new cycle of righteous indignation inspired by outrageous Republican comments was born.

“Post-autopsy, are you OK with GOP rebranded as the party that decides who loves their country?” National Journal columnist Ron Fournier probed Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. “Say no to Rudy.”

God forbid the RNC chairman took Fournier up on his advice; we’d still be talking about Giuliani, the godfather of the Republican Party, next Monday.

Maybe the most excessive pile-on could be found, as it so often is, on MSNBC. There, the cast of Morning Joe scrambled over one another to not only denounce Giuliani’s comments but to air 14-year-old grievances against the mayor and to insist that Republicans should entirely abstain from criticizing the outgoing two-term president ahead of 2016. Seriously.

“Yes, Mr. Mayor, it is racist and it sounds, frankly, kind of unhinged,” The Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson insisted.

When Donny Deutsch, who was apparently personally offended by Giuliani’s remarks, attacked him for “co-opting the tragedy that was 9/11” and accused him of being a “fringe” element of the GOP, he inspired a panicked series of repudiations from his fellow panelists. Deutsch didn’t seem to realize that his assertion had exposed the fabricated nature of Giuliani-gate, day two.

What are we to make of this frenzied attack on Giuliani, in which the whole of the political press reacted as though a man who left office 14 years ago had insulted their mothers? Some political analysts were just as confused:

Oh, but he was a leading presidential candidate in 2007, don’t you know? And he delivered the keynote address at the GOP’s nominating convention in 2008. And he’s a frequent guest on cable news, so he must be influential (a claim that could only be made by someone who rarely appears on cable news). But observing Giuliani’s diminished stature today when compared to the last decade renders the media’s reaction even less explicable. So, what gives?

For a bit of unvarnished truth, we turn to Florida-based political operative Rick Wilson. As day two of Giuliani-gate dawned, Wilson held the terrible mirror up to the media and bid them stare into its unendurable reflection.

Precisely. It is no matter that the veil slips in the process, the media desperately needed a win after a series of rough news cycles (and the president’s decision to set his rebounding job approval ratings on fire by re-litigating the Middle Ages). They’re not above manufacturing one.

The press did not recoil in horror when former Vice President Al Gore screamed that George W. Bush “betrayed” the country. Nor did they feign outrage when Obama accused the 43rd President of the United States of being “unpatriotic” because he increased the debt at a pace that the 44th President of the United States would rapidly eclipse. And why would they? It’s not their place to defend the president’s reputation – he is, after all, merely a temporary civilian custodian of one branch of our republican government. Americans have a rather grand tradition of besmirching the character of our presidents, and it is a healthy and cherished one. By “civility,” the press really means deference and observance of subjectively assessed standards of decorum. That’s not merely bias, its servility.

Not everyone on the right agreed with Giuliani’s guileless comments, but their sympathy for his denouncers was lost amid the deluge of outsize overreaction. They protest far, far too much. This episode has been unseemly, unwarranted, and more than a little embarrassing.

An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the chairman of the RNC as Ron Fournier


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Comment pages: 1 2 3 4

It’s pretty pathetic.

verbaluce on February 20, 2015 at 5:21 PM

The truth hurts, doesn’t it? Otherwise why would you stoop to such a stupid level?

Bagging on him not making it as a Presidential candidate and using his “glory days” as a stepping stone for wealth, have you forgotten Al Gore? By your standards he is pathetic too.

We’ll just keep Bill & Hillary’s foundation aside for now.

How do you justify Obama’s “love” for this country? When have you ever heard him say that he loves this country and is thankful that he is an American or anything even approaching that?

Neitherleftorright on February 21, 2015 at 1:25 PM

It turns out that Obama does not need the secret Service. He has the media.

RickCaird on February 21, 2015 at 2:25 PM

Obama and a question of love.

How does someone love his country -but allow millions of criminal aliens to enter -and/or remain- in the country illegally and then try to grant them amnesty through illegal means?

How does someone love his country and then trade 5 Taliban terrorists for 1 deserter during wartime?

(That’s not only treasonous but STUPID. One-for-one would have been treacherous enough, but 5 for 1 is imbecilic incompetence.)

How does one love his country then permit a jihadist threat like ISIS to arise and metastasize because of a cynical political calculation?

What strange kind of love is that?

The Marquis de Sade should be consulted for an answer.

profitsbeard on February 21, 2015 at 5:28 PM

Giuliani, despite his faults (brusque New Yorker, social liberal on some issues, disastrous marriage) has more cohones than all the other GOP machers combined including Jeb Bush, Mitch McConnell, Boehner, Rubio and other “usual suspects”. Because Obama’s black in this politically correct world, his anti-American, pro-terrorist stances get swept under the rug and his incompetency, crookedness and anti-white bigotry get totally ignored. I take my hat off to Rudy for his courage. He is willing to go where cowards like Jeb Bush dare not go and, lately ,at least, I’m beginning to suspect that Jeb may just be a white Obama who remains docile to Obama not out of cowardice but out of convivial ‘sympatico’.

MaiDee on February 21, 2015 at 5:39 PM

RUDY!
HOW COULD YOU!
NO ONE IS SUPPOSED TO POINT OUT DEAR LEADER’S ANTI AMERICAN ROOTS!
IT’S RACIST!
IT IS UNPATRIOTIC TO INTERFERE WITH DEAR LEADER’S EFFORTS
TO CREATE A NEW USSRA THAT MICHELLE CAN BE PROUD OF!

BoxHead1 on February 21, 2015 at 7:17 PM

Conservatives have no business defending Rudy for these remarks. All he accomplished was to distract attention from Jobs for Jihadis. Megyn Kelly certainly didn’t cut him any slack.

wbcoleman on February 21, 2015 at 8:53 PM

Derp?

verbaluce on February 20, 2015 at 10:27 AM

S. D. on February 21, 2015 at 10:48 PM

Of course Mike will ridicule Obama to apologize to George W Bush (2008 Obama said Bush was unpatriotic for raising the debt ceiling 4 rillion). Course Mike/Obama won’t mention Obama has raised the debt ceiling more than ALL past presidents combined, lol…

soapyjeans on February 21, 2015 at 11:39 PM

Rudy’s thoughtful appraisal of Obama raises the subject to a debatable level, and allows/demands a scrutiny of the man and his actions/policies. I don’t think one can honestly find much to support the view that Obama does love America.

bill glass on February 21, 2015 at 11:50 PM

It is impossible to believe that the media has not noticed that Obama’s self proclaimed mentor was a Communist. His mother was very close to the well known Communist, Frank Marshal Davis. Obama talks about Davis in his book–they claim to have read it. Surely the media knew Obama has serious Communist ties right?

This outrage and surprise is an act right?

You would have to be living under a rock not to know that. Or just too dumb to breath. What is all this outrage about?

Giuliani stated his opinion. You can’t really argue with someone’s opinion, especially one built on the solid facts he stated and observed behavior.

In my opinion, Obama hates me. And everything to do with middle America. He hates America and Americans. That has been plain from the moment he took office. Obama hates me. That is not really an opinion at this point, that is observation. Everything Obama does is an attempt to make America weak and meaningless in the world.

Why would anyone argue with an educated opinion based on facts? It is beyond stupid.

petunia on February 22, 2015 at 1:39 AM

Conservatives have no business defending Rudy for these remarks. All he accomplished was to distract attention from Jobs for Jihadis. Megyn Kelly certainly didn’t cut him any slack.

wbcoleman on February 21, 2015 at 8:53 PM

I thought Megyn Kelly’s interview was shameful. Of course Obama hates America, he got elected to “transform” it into a third world country. Of course Obama hates Americans, just like Rudy said.

petunia on February 22, 2015 at 1:42 AM

Smacked a nerve, Rudy did.

CurtZHP on February 20, 2015 at 11:28 AM

It could be… Maybe they are really reacting to the realization that they elected the enemy to be our President, and he is doing what any enemy of this country would do.

Hopefully, they will look themselves in the mirror and have a moment of self truth.

Obama hates America, he hates Americans.

His cause is to do as much damage as he can in the time he has left.

Just look at the horrible state he has brought us too. We have never been weaker.

petunia on February 22, 2015 at 1:50 AM

just out of curiosity have any of the commentators going after Giuliani or Walker shown any examples of where they are wrong?

RonK on February 22, 2015 at 4:01 PM

The media rushes to defend Obama’s honor from Rudy Giuliani

They’re guarding an empty vessel!!

landlines on February 22, 2015 at 4:06 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3 4