Late Wednesday night Politico reported that Rudy Giuliani spoke at a private dinner in New York featuring Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Here is Darren Samuelsohn’s account:
The former New York mayor, speaking in front of the 2016 Republican presidential contender and about 60 right-leaning business executives and conservative media types, directly challenged Obama’s patriotism, discussing what he called weak foreign policy decisions and questionable public remarks when confronting terrorists.
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “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.”
With Walker sitting just a few seats away, Giuliani continued by saying that “with all our flaws we’re the most exceptional country in the world. I’m looking for a presidential candidate who can express that, do that and carry it out.”
“And if it’s you Scott, I’ll endorse you,” he added. “And if it’s somebody else, I’ll support somebody else.”
Walker doesn’t want to defend Giuliani’s remarks; his aides contend that they were off the record. I infer their off-the-record status from the fact that there have been no other accounts of the dinner by the journalists in attendance. I suppose others may weigh in now.
When it comes to reading Obama, I’m with Rudy. I think there is a boatload of evidence supporting the inference that anyone who believes the country is in need of fundamental transformation doesn’t think highly of it, let alone attach emotional fervor to supporting it.
The Democrats think this is a useful debate to have at a time when their guy is becoming a Carterized joke and they are probably right. They will certainly have the support of the arbiters of propriety in the mainstream media, such as the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza. Cillizza reads Giuliani out of polite society for his remarks.
Cillizza judges that Giuliani has “marginalized himself.” Cillizza writes: “Let’s be clear: NO politician with any sort of national ambition — or any sort of ambition at all, really — would say what Giuliani reportedly said about Obama. Not one. Questioning patriotism is a line that simply is not crossed at that level of politics.”
Receiving Cillizza’s column by email yesterday afternoon, I asked Cillizza about candidate Obama’s disparagement of George W. Bush as “unpatriotic” in 2008 — for increasing the national debt, of all things. (The video of Obama speaking at a campaign event in Fargo in 2008 is posted here.) Although Chris has graciously responded to email messages from me over the past year or two, he passed on this inquiry. (If he responds today, I’ll update this post.)
In any event, Megyn Kelly remembered Obama’s line of attack in 2008 as well when she invited Giuliani to defend his remarks on her FNC Kelly File show last night (video below, posted here on YouTube if our player doesn’t work for you). I think Giuliani could have done a better job. He’s uncharacteristically back on his heels here.
Those of us who have the freedom to express ourselves without political consideration came to the view that Giuliani expressed by mid-2008. Indeed, we said so in the good old days when Obama was still striving for the office he has attained.
This wasn’t a particularly tough case to crack. In February 2008, to take just one small example, Michelle Obama famously observed that for the first time in her adult life she was proud of her country “because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.” Does it marginalize one to infer that Obama shares the views of the Missus?
This is not a debate that it is helpful to revisit in Year Seven of the Obama Catastrophe, but Rudy expresses the views that a lot of us have held for a long time based on Obama’s own words and friends and deeds.