Rudy Giuliani said he does not believe the president loves America
Errol Louis: Giuliani's outburst shows why he's more of a cable TV rabble-rouser than a serious political figure
Editor’s Note: Errol Louis is the host of “Inside City Hall,” a nightly political show on NY1, a New York all-news channel. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
Several times in recent months, America has been treated to a spectacle that New Yorkers grew accustomed to – and sick of – a long time ago: an outburst from ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani that is equal parts ugly, thoughtless and divisive.
“I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the President loves America,” went the latest outburst, delivered to a group of fellow Republicans at a Manhattan restaurant. Obama, said Giuliani, “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.”
The White House barely even acknowledged the outburst, in part because Giuliani, a failed candidate for president, has become more of a cable television rabble-rouser than a serious national political figure.
Consider what happened in 2008, when Giuliani and Obama were both on the ballot for the highest office in the land. Obama went on to become president; Giuliani, by contrast spent nearly $50 million and lost every caucus and primary he entered before dropping out with a grand total of only one delegate, a modern record for electoral futility.
In other words, it would be more accurate to say America – as expressed by the will of the voting public – doesn’t love Giuliani.
But that won’t stop him from sounding off again in the future. Last November, on “Meet the Press,” Giuliani waded into the racial tensions that racked Ferguson, Missouri, by blaming the police killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown on black communities – all black communities.
In a stunning exchange with author and scholar Michael Eric Dyson – one of many advocates complaining about the use of excessive police force – Giuliani said: “The white police officers wouldn’t be there if you weren’t killing each other 70 to 75% of the time.”
Exactly who he meant by “you” wasn’t explained; it didn’t have to be. Giuliani’s favorite political math equation is long division: Separate the public into “us” and “them” (e.g., “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me”) and then pose as champion of half the people. And if there are racial overtones to the divisiveness, so be it.
“Why don’t you cut it [street violence] down so many white police officers won’t have to be in black areas?” he said to Dyson, an academic and author who has no power or responsibility to end violence anywhere, but happens to be black.
After a national furor, Giuliani slightly backed away from his outburst about Obama, grudgingly acknowledging that the twice-elected President of the United States is, indeed a “patriot.”
We live in a country that survey researches say is more divided by party and ideology than at any time in decades. To understand why we continue to talk past one another, look no further than the Giulianis of America, who eagerly feed on fear and anger instead of developing a positive vision for the country.