This week former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said that President Obama doesn’t love you, me or America.
He said that the President has been under the influence of communists since he was 9 years old, and that Obama is likely a socialist or an anti-communist. And despite the handwringing on the right and left, his words don’t really harm anyone.
Not the Republican brand, not his own reputation or even any of the Republicans who have backed his statements. However he did just HELP Hillary Clinton, and if the GOP is serious about 2016 they should be worried about any statements actions or thoughts that get her closer to the White House.
This all started last week when Giuliani was giving a speech at a posh Manhattan Dinner party for likely Presidential candidate Scott Walker last Wednesday, when Rudy said: “I do not believe — and I know this is a horrible thing to say — but I do not believe that this President loves America.”
Apparently that didn’t bring the point home enough because the former mayor of New York city kept going in on Obama, with any media outlet that’d let him talk.
On Fox & Friends: “What I’m saying is, in his rhetoric I very rarely hear the things that I used to hear Ronald Reagan say, the things that I used to hear Bill Clinton say about how much he loves America. I do hear him criticize America much more often than other American Presidents. And when it’s not in the context of an overwhelming number of statements about the exceptionalism of America, it sounds like he’s more of a critic than he is a supporter.”
He added, “You can be a patriotic American and be a critic, but then you’re not expressing that kind of love that we’re used to from a President.”
Basically by the end of the week Giuliani was doing everything short of asking for another copy of Obama’s birth certificate and asking for his whereabouts on the morning of 9-11. Many in the press and some Republican commentators have said Giuliani’s comments are harmful to the Republican brand, and slowly but surely Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush have come to not quite critique Giuliani but claim that their disagreement with Obama has always been more about policy than whether he loves America.
Governor Bobby Jindal and former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann have come out in support of Giuliani’s statements and have earned praise and scorn for their courage or cowardice depending on how you lean politically. Ultimately none of this matters, and this entire tempest in a teapot is probably giving the Clinton campaign goosebumps.
First, Rudy Giuliani is not saying anything new, not for him, and not for many people in the Republican party base. From conservative commentators like Mark Levin to rank-and-file Republicans, the belief that Obama doesn’t love America is not new, and it didn’t take us losing the war against ISIS for many conservatives to question his patriotism, faith and love of country. It’s just a very common belief system among the base of the modern Republican party.
The best way to tag the party nominee of a two term president is to claim they’ll essentially be that president’s third term. The more the GOP makes this race about Obama, the easier it’ll be for Hillary Clinton to draw contrasts between herself and his administration.
Remember the whole ‘flag pin’ incident? Yes we all know from a moral and statesmanship perspective that this kind of language is racist and counter-productive for the United States but when in the last 7 years have we seen anyone in American campaign politics benefit from trying to be the adult in the room? Obama’s “Dad-in-Chief” routine hasn’t helped against the Republican Congress, or during campaigns.
Giuliani’s comments are no different than Steve Scalise hanging out with Klan members. The GOP knows who their base is, but for some reason we’re all supposed to feign shock and disgust when we’re reminded. While most Republicans don’t hold beliefs this far to the racist right the fact is the last guy who tried to split the needle with the GOP base by saying “Obama is a good man with bad ideas” ended up losing.
And speaking of losing, that’s what this is really all about, the Republicans should be worried about losing to Hillary Clinton in 2016, and this kind of rhetoric is exactly what would lead to her and Bill Clinton marching back into the White House. Yes, there’s the obvious problem, that this kind of language from a prominent Republican is alienating to young voters, minority voters and independents, but it actually goes a bit deeper than that.
Does anyone other than the far right believe Hillary doesn’t love America? Does anyone other than the far right believe Hillary was influenced by communists? Or doesn’t want to stop ISIS?
If Republicans can’t get over their Obama derangement syndrome it just makes it that much easier for Hillary to say “Obama isn’t on the ballot!” and define herself. It’s already going to be hard to tag her with the Obama administration because everyone knows she disagrees with the President a lot.
If Republicans respond to every attack on the president like it’s a leaked audio tape, Hillary will be waltzing right back into the White House, whether she loves America or not.
This article first appeared online at NBC BLK.