Does anybody really buy the Left’s faux outrage over former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani’s opinion, offered at a private event for Wisconsin governor Scott Walker last Wednesday, that President Obama does not love America? After all, it’s a matter of orthodoxy on the right that Barack Obama’s opinion of America ranges from mild disapproval to outright hatred. In my own estimation, it is somewhere between.
A thought experiment for you: How do you think a spouse, a friend, or a colleague would react if you suggested — in your nicest voice — “I think you’re wonderful, but I want to fundamentally transform you”? After all, nothing says “I love you” like telling someone you want to change everything about her. A proper reaction would sound something like, “Go transform yourself, buddy.”
Yet in 2008, just before his first election, then-candidate Obama said, “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” To be sure, he went on to specify a few items of economic policy that fell into his transformative plans. But it is simply not credible to believe that he was speaking only of “expanding the middle class,” as he suggested in a 2014 interview with Bill O’Reilly.
Instead, the transformation that Obama envisions encompasses everything from government control of health care to massively diminishing the power of the United States in international affairs so that “no world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed.”
None of this is surprising from a man who said, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” After all, nobody is exceptional if everybody is, and if the U.S. isn’t exceptional, that’s just one less reason to love it.
Barack Obama is a man whose childhood father figure, Frank Marshall Davis, was an America-hating, Stalin-lauding Communist; Obama spent nearly two decades imbibing the hateful ignorance of his pastor and mentor, the Reverend Jeremiah “God D— America” Wright, and began his political career (or at least fundraising for it) in the living room of anti-American terrorist Bill Ayers. Nothing about these facts paints a picture of a man who likes — or is even tolerant of — the United States of America. Sprinkle in an “apology tour,” a refusal to wear an American-flag pin, and a wife who was never proud of her country until her husband became president, and the picture becomes even clearer.
Every politically attentive conservative and libertarian knows these stories and perceives them as filling in enough of a jigsaw puzzle of a man (about whom so many secrets remain) that the image is discernible even if not complete: Barack Obama is the first American president who misunderstands and dislikes his own country. The degree to which he errs in each of those ways is a subject of legitimate debate.
While most on the right won’t say that Obama hates his country, their common attempts at politeness and neutrality tend to include caveats so broad as to disprove the claim: “I’m sure he loves his country. He just thinks it could be much better if we handled [insert policy area here] in a completely different way.” The problem is that the statement can be uttered with equal accuracy, in the second sentence at least, by filling in the blank with approximately every aspect of the relationship of government to the citizens and of the United States to the world.
Again, consider Barack Obama’s statement, on the occasion of his first nomination, that “tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another.” To assert that he does love his country would require either an outright lie or a redefinition of the word “love” in a way that would befit Newspeak far more than English. Or he could love America in the same way that a lion loves a baby zebra.
Rudy Giuliani, meanwhile, used “love” as you and I understand it when he said, “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. 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.” Giuliani made clear in a subsequent interview that he does not view President Obama as having the same patriotism that he’s seen in other Democratic presidents, including Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter; this is not just about mistrusting liberals.
At least on the right, Giuliani’s view, for which he is admirably unapologetic, is barely controversial and would be entirely unsurprising except that few public figures (apparently none of equal prominence so far) have been willing to voice it. The political Left, however, went into full outrage mode, with many in the “mainstream” media, and even Megyn Kelly on Fox News, calling for an apology. CNN’s Gloria Borger called Rudy’s remarks “hateful.” Some tarred Rudy a racist: always the Left’s tactic of first and last resort when trying to silence their critics.
Now the media (again, including Fox) are asking other Republicans whether they agree with Giuliani, as if a “yes” answer would be a scarlet letter pinned to the chests of politicians who will never see Barack Obama’s name on another ballot and who simply don’t fear a president with such low approval ratings. Indeed, Republicans entering a crowded primary season could find tactical advantage in insinuating, subtly or unsubtly, negative opinions of our current president.
Those Republicans need to avoid falling into the trap — not the trap of fielding a question (this applies as well to “Do you think Barack Obama is a Christian?”) and offering answers that really won’t hurt them. I mean the trap of allowing the media to protect Barack Obama by focusing unduly on those answers (which, when stated, give an erroneous impression that the question is relevant, not to mention that it wastes time), and thus to make the conversation be about his motives rather than his policies and actions.
If Barack Obama wants to turn America into an insolvent social-welfare state like so much of Western Europe, does it really matter if it’s because he loves America or because he hates it? If the president wants to put America in the weakest international and military position it has been in for generations, who cares if it is because he hears the voice of Frank Marshall Davis or because he believes that our enemies will be pacified by a group hug? Hey, maybe they love America too!
The questions of a politician’s worldview and underlying motivations are exceptionally important prior to an election. Whether Obama does or doesn’t love the United States should have been a critical question going into the 2008 election, as it was an excellent predictor of his conduct in office. (By 2012, we already understood the man rather well, yet he was still reelected — which says more about American voters and the Republican candidate than about Barack Obama.)
But once in office, particularly when it comes to domestic politics, the personal history and emotions underlying a political philosophy are nearly irrelevant. While Rudy Giuliani’s comments may, as some have suggested, “not be helpful,” it is only to the extent of allowing the Left to turn them into a shiny object distracting television reporters and editorial writers from the actions of a lawless and often clueless president.
As to whether Barack Obama loves his country, I think Rudy is spot-on; my wife (no liberal, she) gives the president the benefit of the doubt. But the question of who is right is unimportant, because, as we both agree, President Obama is doing great harm to the United States.
Whether or not that comes from “love” just doesn’t matter.