Given the opportunity, the one thing I'd say to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is, Rudy, I love ya man, but I'm disappointed that you'd bow to the anti-Obama bottom-feeders by saying you don't think the President loves America.
Giuliani has taken a lot of heat since he made the comments. Perhaps the failed 2008 Republican presidential candidate was feeling a bit left out of the news cycle as all the attention seems to be going to 2016 presidential contenders. Perhaps he was just playing to his audience and attempting to bolster his conservative bona fides. Whatever his reasons, the fact that he said he didn't think Obama loves America, and his stumbling attempts to justify his statement since, show a much different man than the one who helped unite the nation and show the world the resolve of New Yorkers following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
I liked that Giuliani much better. Sure, in the years following he has been criticized for his lack of preparedness for the attack, especially since there had already been a failed attempt to blow up the twin towers. And then there are his comments about the air quality in the weeks following the attacks, and the complaint that Giuliani wanted Washington to limit the city's liability in health claims related to work at Ground Zero. But the enduring image of Giuliani for many of us is of him at Ground Zero, and of how he showed the resolve of not only New Yorkers, but of all Americans in saying we would not be swayed by terrorists.
Contrast that with today's image of Giuliani. The man who was a Democrat before turning Independent in 1975 and then Republican in 1980 seems to have embraced the self-righteous attitude of some ultra-conservatives who have developed their own personal litmus test to what it takes to be conservative, or what it takes to be a patriot, or now, apparently, what it takes to love America.
I have no problem with anyone who takes issues with any of Obama's policies. In six years, he has made a lot of decisions that I don't agree with. Same was true for George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton before him, especially as it relates to fighting terrorism. But can you imagine what the uproar in conservative circles would have been if some high-profile Democrat had said Bush didn't love America? Just more of that lamestream liberal media engaging in their favorite pastime of bashing Bush.
Truth be told, unless Obama, or Bush or for that matter even Giuliani stands up on a podium and says "I hate America," what right does anyone have to make such a claim against another? Liberals could make the claim that conservatives hate America because they are against all the things that make our country great, especially our love for one another and our propensity to help out others in need. And in some cases they do.
But by far we hear much more often from the far right about how anyone who doesn't engage in group-think, or fall in line like lemmings eager to follow the pack over the cliff, just doesn't measure up to the standard of being a real American.
They shout about freedom, but condemn anyone who dares to offer a viewpoint different from their own. They preach personal accountability, but too often blame others for all their problems. They boo the soldier who in questioning the candidates during a debate admits he is gay. They devour the candidate who says we need to have compassion for the children of immigrants. They think that if you didn't purchase insurance and show up sick at the hospital, you should be turned away.
These, and other similar traits, apparently, are what it takes to love America in Giuliani's world. They may love America, but they don't hold the people who live here in very high regard.
No, the man who Time Magazine named their Person of the Year in 2001, who was honorarily knighted by England's Queen Elizabeth II and who helped us in our time of greatest need is not the same man who said Obama doesn't love America.
Giuliani 2.0 seems like a step – or giant leap – backward. I like the old Giuliani much better. I hope to see him again soon.
Jim Lee is the Carroll County Times' Editor. Email him at email@example.com.