Josh Earnest does metaphysics

The Democrats and the media have their undies in a bunch over Rudy Giuliani’s disparagement of Barack Obama’s attitude toward the United States of America. Rudy has allegedly crossed a line by questioning Obama’s patriotism, though Giuliani himself denies that he has done so. He has merely observed that by outward appearances Obama doesn’t love the United States. That seems to me an uncharacteristic act of hairsplitting on Rudy’s part.

What position are the media or the Democrats in to call Rudy out on this point? They gave Obama a free pass for disparaging George W. Bush as unpatriotic in the 2008 campaign — for adding $4 trillion to the national debt, of all things. Obama has seen Bush’s $4 trillion and raised it, but that’s different, of course, if anyone is asking.

Given Obama’s carefree approach to the national debt, Obama’s 2008 disparagement of Bush would be both hypocritical and beyond the bounds of propriety if the media were applying a single standard of judgment. I asked Chris Cillizza by email to distinguish the cases when he sent us his column on Thursday; he has not responded.

The White House has meditated on its response to Giuliani. With the media doing its work, the White House has chosen to condemn Rudy more in sorrow than in anger. Team Obama purports to feel sorry for Giuliani.

FOX News White House reporter Ed Henry asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest about Earnest to distinguish the two cases at Friday’s White House press briefing. Henry asked: “Josh, given your sorrow for Rudy Giuliani do you think the president has any regrets about saying President Bush was unpatriotic for adding $4 trillion to the debt?”

Josh Earnest will say anything. He’s not particularly smart, but he can say the darndest things with the cool demeanor of a pathological liar.

Earnest pretended to be unprepared for Henry’s question. “I haven’t seen the actual comments,” Earnest said. “I don’t know if you have it there in front of you.”

Henry threw Earnest a lifeline. “He said that the president, I’m paraphrasing this part, had added about $4 trillion to the debt and then he said, quote, ‘that’s irresponsible, that’s unpatriotic.’ I see a difference from Giuliani because he’s talking about an issue. But nonetheless, questioning the patriotism of the president of the United States,” Henry said.

Earnest said Obama questioned the “specific wisdom of that decision,” he was not calling President Bush unpatriotic.

“He didn’t say it was unwise, he said that’s unpatriotic,” Henry responded.

“Right, but again, he was talking about that, he wasn’t talking about a person,” Earnest said.

If that isn’t a distinction without a difference, it is hairsplitting too.

I have borrowed the exchange and the video above from Ian Schwartz/RealClearPolitics.

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