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Monday, March 2, 2015

Giuliani: Nutball or Sleazeball?

The former New York City mayor may be full of it, but that won't stop him from weighing in.
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I’m trying to make up my mind about Rudy Giuliani: I can’t decide whether he’s a nutball or a sleazeball. For now I’m going with a sleazy nutball, but I’m open to suggestions.

In a series of hysterical attacks on Barack Obama in recent weeks, Giuliani has all but called the president un-American. He’s lashed out at the man he says doesn’t love his country, is soft on terrorism, and plays too much golf.

“I don’t hear from him what I heard from Harry Truman, what I heard from Bill Clinton, what I heard from Jimmy Carter,” Giuliani griped on Fox News, “which is these wonderful words about what a great country we are, what an exceptional country we are.”

He’s full of it, of course.

quick check by The New York Times revealed multiple examples of Obama declaring his ardor for his country. The most telling was his speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, where Obama reflected that “in no other country on earth is my story even possible.”

Not that it will make any difference, of course.

Rudy said it so it must be true. So think the denizens of the Republican Cloud Cuckoo Land presided over by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, who has reported that he’s getting texts “praising Rudy to the rooftops.”

This wouldn’t ordinarily be of any great importance. Presidents have often had to deal with partisan loudmouths hurling insults at them. Franklin Roosevelt had Father Charles Coughlin, a Catholic priest at a posh parish just north of Detroit.

Coughlin, who had a nationwide radio show, was a virulent anti-Semite. He would weekly tear into FDR for his supposedly pro-Jewish leanings, among other things.

I think the Vatican finally ordered him to shut up. In any case, he went away. Those guys usually do.
Giuliani is a somewhat more dangerous case, because the Republican Party finds itself in rather odd position these days. It’s held hostage by its least educated, most intolerant, and most rabidly partisan cohort.

Thus any Republican vying for the presidency must constantly look over his or her shoulder to make sure they’re not making enemies of supporters who foam at the mouth at the suggestion of compromise.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the leader of this year’s presidential weathervane caucus, is a case in point. Giuliani showed up uninvited to a fat-cat fundraiser for the governor a few days ago and, again uninvited, grabbed the mic to deliver one of his Obama rants, making himself rather than Walker the center of attention.

Asked afterwards what he thought of the remarks, Walker refused to weigh in, demurring that he didn’t know whether Obama loved America.

Walker is also on record refusing to comment on evolution, and his opposition to abortion has become more strident since he started looking at the presidency.

If you’re trying to disguise yourself as a moderate, the last thing you want is a clown like Giuliani stirring up the animals.

The one thing Republican candidates agree on is that the country must be saved from the specter of universal health insurance. Month after month, year after year, Republicans have harped on the disaster of “Obamacare.”

Except that it’s not really a disaster. The Affordable Care Act is working reasonably well despite the Republicans’ best efforts to sabotage it. Allowed to stand and be improved, this landmark health care reform will go down as one of the Obama administration’s great achievements.

So it’s no wonder that Republicans can’t stomach it. Their friends on the Supreme Court are teed up to deliver it a blow that may prove fatal later this year.

Which is really a much bigger worry than the intemperate remarks of a nutty sleazeball like Rudy Giuliani.

OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.