Recently White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, responding to Rudy Giuliani’s recent statement that he does “not believe that the president loves America,” attempted to trivialize and marginalize the former New York mayor by telling the White House press corps, “It’s sad to see when somebody who has attained a certain level of public stature and even admiration tarnishes that legacy so thoroughly. And the truth is I don’t take any joy or vindication or satisfaction from that. I think, really, the only thing that I feel is I feel sorry for Rudy Giuliani today.”
Doubts about his sincerity aside, Earnest’s remarks reflect the hubris requisite for so handily dismissing the legacy of “America’s Mayor,” the man who shepherded the citizens of New York City (and by vicarious extension millions of other Americans) through recovery from the worst attack on the U.S. since Pearl Harbor.
Odd though it must seem, the frenzy sparked by Rudy’s comments mimics public reaction to Steve Irwin’s untimely death at the barb of a stingray in 2006. At the time, one commentator opined (albeit in questionable taste) that the shock wasn’t that the “Crocodile Hunter” had died; it was that he had not been eaten.
So it is with Rudy and Obama. In itself, the suspicion with which the Republican ex-presidential hopeful regards the president’s affection for the United States should not give us whiplash. I doubt the mayor is as isolated in his opinion as he is now alienated for having expressed it. After six years of an Obama presidency, is the notion that Obama may not love America the way many Americans expect a president to, universally and genuinely shocking? The public’s reaction seems a bit put on—like Victorian-era men swooning and mothers wailing for their daughters’ lost chastity at the glimpse of an ankle. Are we not rather more shocked that Giuliani voiced this particular opinion, which he must have known would provoke a Leftist media hailstorm at his expense?
Yes, Rudy went there—a surprise for all. This is hardly more mind-bending, however, than the possibility that the mayor is not totally crazy. But we needn’t speculate. Rudy’s suspicions will be easily rebuffed by the White House clearing up one question:
What about America does President Obama love most?
Is it our Constitution, which defines the president’s role primarily as the enforcer and implementer of laws passed by Congress? So phrased, suddenly Obama’s “executive action” seems awkwardly forward. Ah, but such historical outlooks are so prudish–no lens at all for interpreting the overtures of a modern president. No one, for instance, can question FDR’s love for America–yet no president (except maybe Lincoln) did more to expand the executive branch, propping up the president as the nation’s leading policymaker, and, incidentally, redistributor of wealth. Perhaps the reason Americans (even those pesky, conservative, Austrian-school economists) can loathe the four-term president’s policies without doubting his patriotism is his consistently aggressive prosecution of a war—in word and in deed—against those trying to destroy America, beginning with his willingness to name her enemies according to their ideologies, calling National Socialists “Nazis” and Japanese imperialists “imperialists,” without fear of offending our Soviet and British allies. Would Obama have done so? (Does he now?)
Is it the president’s love for our metadata, or only for our First Amendment-ensured freedom of speech, coupled with revolutionary cyber innovation by Americans, that drives the president’s Internet regulations, which at least one Federal Communications Commissioner regards as “pretty dangerous”?
Does the president love our First Amendment-guaranteed religious freedoms, which protect an American senator and future president’s right to worship under such divines as Jeremiah Wright, between race-baiting refrains of “God damn America”? Does the same embolden him to equate the war currently being waged by Islamic terrorists with the substantially defensive battles (if not entirely so) waged by medieval Christians almost a millennium ago? And to imply that those who prefer not to compare 21st-century apples with 11th-century oranges ride a “high horse”?
Surely the president loves America’s businessmen, from the venture investor employing thousands, to the stouthearted cliff-diver whose sole start-up capital is his non-tax-funded teacher’s salary savings. Nothing says “I love you” to risk-taking entrepreneurs like “You didn’t build that.”
Is it love for American citizens who patrol and attempt to secure our national borders at peril of life and limb that prompts the president to incentivize illegal border crossings, not only of individuals, but of organized masses? Is it his love for our border states? Is it his love for naturalized American citizens who patiently waited on a beleaguered system to admit them, out of respect for the rule of law (however imperfect)?
Does the president love Cuban Americans, with fresh memories of their own or their relatives’ desperate emigration from the communist dictatorship to the south? Surely that explains his inviting the Castros back to the bedroom, notwithstanding unanswered crimes against humanity.
Does he love our patience with the president’s foreign and defense policies, which liberated him to postpone issues of missile defense talks with Russia until after his reelection, when he would have “more flexibility”?
Was it love for American markets that prompted the president to dismantle the health insurance industry at the nuclear level and impose a deeply flawed, centrally planned substitute?
Is it Congress’s comfort with passing bills just to find out what’s in them that he loves? Or the size of our population, 319 million strong? Surely such a number makes it feel less like lying when telling Americans 37 times that if they like their health care plans they can keep them, when “only” 15 million citizens (five percent of the population) could not.
Does he love our gullibility, which permitted him (if David Axelrod writes truthfully) to lie, flagrantly and calculatingly, to the electorate about his views on same-sex marriage?
Is it our $18 trillion debt, or only our 14-plus-million-person increase in food stamp users since Obama took office in 2009, that so endears us to him?
Does he love middle- and upper-income earners, for replenishing the reserves that enable the president to show love to low- and no-income earners?
Does the president love America for having the greatest military force on earth—love unrequited to the tune of 15% approval by servicemen and servicewomen?
Or does he love us only for our golf courses?
How Rudy Giuliani could doubt President Obama’s public displays of affection is hard to say. Had Rudy read Fifty Shades of Grey (I’m told), he would know that people show love in different ways. The mayor, for instance, is partial to secure borders, free markets, the rule of law, policies designed to help hard-working Americans create, multiply, and preserve wealth, and the protection of civil liberties—yawn. The president’s mode of expression is more akin to domination of a woefully submissive electorate. Just stand there and try to relax, Rudy; what could go wrong?
What has already?