Dave Weigel, echoing complaints from right-wingers, says the Rudy Giuliani story shouldn't have blown up the way it did:
The [Scott] Walker cameo clearly turned this into a news-swallowing story....
Was it news? Well, sure! But review the timing: the week before the Giuliani hubbub, the White House introduced a version of an authorization of military force against ISIS. Next week, Congress is looking at a deadline on a must-pass Homeland Security funding bill, with Republicans expected to include riders that will prompt a presidential veto. If you thought it was strange to spend the week in between discussing whether a former New York Mayor was disrespectful to the president, you're not alone.
Well, the Brian Williams kerfuffle became "a news-swallowing story" a few days after a Jordanian pilot was seen on video being burned alive by ISIS, and stayed in the news even as the death of American ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller was announced -- why did that happen? Sorry, Dave, life is unfair.
Weigel argues (correctly) that Giuliani's remarks became news because he spoke at a gathering whose guest of honor was possible future president Scott Walker, and because he's a figure of great interest to the large number of reporters based in and around New York City.
But as Weigel notes, Giuliani's been uttering McCarthyite smears against Obama for quite some time -- and Weigel's point seems to be that Giuliani should be free to say these things without fear of exposure by the press.
On February 13, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani talked for almost half an hour to the Iranian American Community of Arizona. The Arizona Republic dispatched a reporter to interview Giuliani before the speech; the mayor insisted that "it's only the president who refuses to say" that Islamic radicalism is behind terror attacks. Giuliani's speech itself did not make the newspaper.
... Giuliani's Phoenix speech ... was pure vitriol.... In it, he said that Iranian negotiators were "looking into weak eyes" when they looked at the president....
"What is wrong with him?" asked Giuliani of Obama. "Is there no passion for the lives of these innocent people? Is there no caring for them?" He continued:
When I was mayor of New York, if someone threatened to destroy New York City, I would go anywhere, anyplace, anytime, and I wouldn't give a damn what the president of the United States thought, to defend my country. That is a patriot! That is a man who loves his people! That is a man who protects his people! That's a man who fights for his people, unlike our president!
... His remarks in New York ... were in sync with what Giuliani had been saying for years, at campaign rallies and on Fox News I was in the crowd at an Ohio rally for Mitt Romney in November 2012 when Giuliani went hoarse with anger about how the president had let Americans die in Benghazi. He asked then, "You think if we'd elected John McCain as president, those people wouldn't have had the full resources of the United States of America trying to save them?"
You were probably unaware of these speeches, and Weigel's point is that that's as it should be -- Giuliani should be able to question Obama's patriotism wherever and whenever he chooses without interference from reporters or members of the public who find it noteworthy or troubling.
Weigel quotes a harrumphing Twitter message approvingly:
"I missed the part where Rudy Giuliani was still mayor of NY or influential political figure," tweeted Amy Walter, the national editor of the Cook Political Report. I spent the week in Kentucky and South Carolina, talking to party activists, congressmen, and people who live productive lives; I heard nobody react to this news tidbit, either negatively or positively.
So ... what? Giuliani's a forgotten figure now? Do Weigel and Walter seriously believe that? And therefore he should be free to smear the president whenever he chooses, exempted by journalistic ethics from the possibility that his remarks will go viral? Sorry, but that's crazy.
And Weigel is also wrong when he suggests that a double standard is being applied here:
The media seemed to be making up rules as it went along. In 2008, Barack Obama said it was "unpatriotic" for George W. Bush to add trillions to the national debt. In 2004, Howard Dean warned Democratic voters that there was "a group of people around the President whose main allegiance is to each other and their ideology rather than to the United States."
And then there was Giuliani. When he spoke, we learned that it was off-limits for someone to question an opponent's patriotism.
Here's the difference: There are large numbers of Americans -- I think it's safe to say millions -- who believe that Democrats literally favor America's enemies and hope that those enemies will do harm to U.S. citizens. The idea that Republicans wish harm on Americans is believed by far fewer Americans, and it's never taken hold in mainstream consciousness the way the notion of Democratic treason and disloyalty has since 1972 (or 1968 or whatever start date you prefer -- Glenn Beck fans go back to the Wilson administration).
If you were to remark, after a high-profile mass murder by a Caucasian male, that maybe the police should routinely profile white men, it's not the same as saying that the police should routinely profile black men, because black men actually are profiled in this society, in a way that white men never will be -- every black man suffers through this. I'm not equating the two, but every Democrat functions under a somewhat similar cloud of suspicion: Do you hate America and love its enemies like McGovern/Carter/whoever?
There's a double standard in this country on presumptions of patriotism, whether or not Weigel notices it. Democrats who accuse Republicans of disloyalty to country are merely trying to turn the tables. Republicans who accuse Democrats are reinforcing a well-established group slander.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog