A front page article by Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman in the February 21,2015 edition of The New York Times reports that earlier that same evening Giuliani expressed indignation with President Obama at another fund-raising event in Manhattan where he took issue with the president's comments that compared the present Islamic extremist terrorism to the depredations that occurred during the Crusades.
The Times' reporters state that a week before, at a realtors' conference in Las Vegas, Mr. Giuliani also criticized the president's irresolute stance toward President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and on February13, 2015, he told an Iranian-American group in Arizona that Mr. Obama was not "a man who loves his people."
Giuliani's intemperate outbursts and his questioning of President Obama's loyalty represent a new low in GOP demagoguery, but his comments need to be remembered in the context of Samuel Johnson's observation that "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."
twists and turns from a youthful supporter of Robert Kennedy, to one
who voted for George McGovern, to one who cavalierly changed his
politics once he was received an appointment in a Republican
administration raise troublesome questions about his own loyalty, his
core values and the sincerity of his political convictions. Giuliani's
behavior, similar to that of so many other spokesmen for today's GOP,
suggests that he will do and say anything that advances his own
political agenda and financial interests.
Giuliani is also an unmitigated hypocrite. Given his background, he is
hardly in a position to question anyone else's loyalty. He was raised in
a first generation Italian-American family as Roman Catholic. Prior to
John Kennedy's election, Catholics in the United States were viewed by
many "red, white and blue patriots" - today's GOP constituency - as
agents of a foreign potentate - the pope.
Giuliani also avoided military service during the Vietnam War. As a student at Manhattan College and NYU Law, he received student deferments from conscription. Upon graduation from the NYU Law School in 1968, he was classified by the Selective Service System as 1-A- i.e., available for military service. Although he applied for a deferment, he was rejected.
In 1969, Federal Judge Lloyd MacMahon, for whom Giuliani was clerking, wrote a letter on his behalf to
Giuliani's draft board and requested that he be reclassified as 2-A - i.e., that he be given a civilian occupational
deferment as an essential employee. That deferment was granted at a time when thousands of other ordinary
young men in New York City and elsewhere across the country- young men who lacked Giuliani's influential
sponsor - were conscripted and became potential cannon fodder in the jungles of Vietnam.
The following year - for some mysterious reason - Giuiliani was not called up for service, although by that
time he had been reclassified 1-A. His favorable treatment was similar to the experiences of two other
prominent, present-day GOP defense hawks and draft evaders, Dick Cheney and Donald Trump.
Giuliani is not unique among GOP "movers and shakers" and before he can be anointed
as the official court jester and resident buffoon of the Republican
Party, he will need to overcome stiff competition from the likes of
former GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachman, Iowa Congressman Steve King,
Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Ben
Carson and a legion of other lunatics and clowns. All of his
competitors revel in their anti-intellectualism, their unwavering
support for the 1%, their advocacy of unlicensed
gun-ownership, their abysmal ignorance of history, xenophobic fear of
other cultures and people who speak different languages, and their
abhorrence of science and the empirically-driven evidence that informs
its hypothesis and findings.
upon a time, the Republican Party was a progressive political party
with big ideas about the future of the United States. Abraham Lincoln
endorsed a broad vision of policies and programs designed to promote the
general welfare. Lincoln defeated the forces of disunion and persuaded
the country to abolish slavery and to guarantee equal rights to all male
citizens with the passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments to the U.S.
Lincoln also signed into law the Homestead Act in 1862 that made
available millions of acres of government-owned land in the West for
purchase by settlers at substantially reduced costs. That same year, he
also signed into law the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, which provided
government grants for creation of agricultural colleges in every state
in the union. In addition, the Pacific Railway Acts of 1862
and 1864 provided federal support for the construction of the United
States' First Transcontinental Railroad which, upon its completion in
1869, linked all the United States from coast to coast.
the First Gilded Age, Theodore Roosevelt pursued policies designed to
curb the excessive economic power wielded by the Robber Barons and their
trusts, condemned predatory practices by corporations, and spoke out in
support of organized labor.Roosevelt also successfully lobbied Congress
to pass the Meat Inspection Act of 1906 and The Pure Food and Drug Act.
Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was the expansion of the national
park system and the subsequent transfer of the administration of the
park system from the Agriculture Department to the Department of the
Interior. As his successor, Republican President Howard Taft continued
Roosevelt's progressive domestic policies and vigorously enforced
In the early decades of the twentieth century also, Wisconsin Governor and later U.S. Senator Robert LaFollette, Sr. enjoyed the loyal support of unionized workers and farmers as a populist. An elected Republican office-holder, he condemned laissez-faire and emphasized the need for government to serve as an advocate for ordinary citizens, as opposed to corporations and other moneyed interests.
Congressman and New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia burnished his
credentials as a reform politician and as a progressive who, appalled by
the excesses of the 1920s and the misery spawned by the Great
Depression, championed the policies of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. At
the beginning of the Roosevelt administration, he and Nebraska
Republican Senator George Norris successfully co-sponsored the
Norris-LaGuardia Act. That act declared yellow-dog contracts illegal,
forbade the federal courts from issuing injunctions against unions in
non-violent labor disputes, and prohibited interference by employers
against workers trying to organize trade unions.
Unfortunately, the success of Franklin Roosevelt and New Deal subsequently changed the direction of the GOP. Beginning with the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, the GOP, prodded by reactionary interests committed to undoing the legacy of the New Deal, became increasingly hostile to unions and supportive of business interests and Wall Street.
the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a new Republican agenda
was cobbled together. Nixon's cynical and craven decision to adopt a
"Southern Strategy" required that the GOP abandon its historic
commitment to civil rights to attract the support of hard-scrabble,
disaffected white Southerners who felt threatened by the elimination of
The rest is history. Within a decade, the "Solid South" became the preserve of the GOP, whose rank and file members, despite their increasingly challenged economic circumstances, have become unabashedly anti-intellectual, anti-science, and hostile to unions, minorities, women, public-sector employees, and to the idea that government should be used as a positive instrument to promote the public good.
Reagan delivered the coup de grâce. He successfully refined a winning
political strategy for the GOP by intentionally appealing to the most
base instincts of Americans. With his attacks on welfare queens and
"'strapping young bucks"' who used public assistance to buy T-Bone
steaks," Reagan further stirred the pot of racial animosity. His
insistence that government was the problem, not the solution, and his
endorsement of trickle-down economics was a repudiation of the GOP's
venerable heritage as an opponent of Social Darwinism; and his policies
repudiated the observation Republican jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
that "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society."
Atwater, who was Reagan's campaign strategist, described how and why
Reagna;s strategy worked: "In the 1980s campaign, we were able to make
the establishment, in so far as it is bad, the government, in other
words, big government was the enemy, not big business. If the people
think the problem is that taxes are too high, and government interferes
too much, then we are doing our job. But, if they get to the point where
they say that the real problem is that rich people aren't paying
taxes...then the Democrats are going to be in good shape. Traditionally,
the Republican Party has been elitist, but one of the things that has
happened is that the Democratic Party has become a party of [rival]
Reagan's divisive rhetoric appealed to an increasingly distracted, unsophisticated base of white males and females, and enabled him to attract "Reagan Democrats" and other low-information voters. They did not understand that the policies that Reagan set in motion - the destruction of traditional pension plans, the privatization of pension risks through the creation of defined contribution plans -aka 401K plans - with the enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) - and the out-sourcing of jibs to the third-world were inimical to their own best interests. Reagan also successfully waged war against public unions with his destruction of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) during their strike in 1981.
Since the Reagan era, the template has remained the same. But, with the advent of Roger Ailes and Izvestia-like propaganda outlets such Fox News, as well as the onslaught of private, undisclosed 501C interests unleashed by Justice Scalia's 5-4 decision in the Citizens United case, the GOP strategists have become vastly more sophisticated and cynical.
In his Politics,
Aristotle insisted that man is by nature a political animal and that
one's participation in the life of a democratic state was the highest
form of human activity. Leo Strauss, a political
philosopher in the European conservative tradition, observed that the
proper object of political theory and inquiry is to discover the Truth
of the human condition. Measured by the standards of Aristotle and
Strauss, what passes for a discussion of serious issues and ideas in
American politics is woefully deficient. Our politics has been reduced
to the equivalent of a food fight in which the superficial - who's up?
who's down? who's loyal? who's a real American? - has become the standard by which our leaders are evaluated and chosen.
Sadly, the GOP alone is not responsible for the trivialization of American politics. Undoubtedly
media and the enormous infusion of money from corporations - with their
legions of lobbyists and super PACs sanctioned by the Citizens United case - have played a large role in the decline of meaningful political discourse, but they also are not alone.
else bears responsibility? We all do. By our apathy, our lack of active
participation in the political system, our unwillingness to challenge
the lunatic fringe, and our tolerance of political lies, we have allowed
the democracy to which we claim allegiance to be gamed and stolen.
Howard Zinn once warned that, "If those in charge of our society - politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television - can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves." His fear is now becoming our nightmare.