|The Exceptional Rudy Giuliani by Steve Jonas|
March 18, 2015
Several weeks ago, on the occasion of his “Obama doesn’t love America” outburst, I was about to write a column on Rudy Giuliani.
But several other important matters came up that demanded my attention, the controversy over the remarks faded fairly fast, and I was going to let the matter drop. But now comes the “the cop who killed the unarmed black man in Ferguson deserves a commendation” controversy. It’s still timely this week, and so I just cannot resist.
Since Giuliani is always, incessantly, talking about “American exceptionalism,” the first question that comes to mind is “is he, himself, exceptional?” Is Giuliani really different from the vast majority of today’s Repubs. in substance, or is it just a matter of style? Of course, I have no way of looking into the minds of the “vast majority of Repubs.” But I can look at their responses to what Giuliani has said. I can recall no leading Repub. rebuking Giuliani for calling into question the President’s patriotism, couched in the colloquial “loves America terms.” But maybe I just missed the one, two, or few who might have. (Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, in the context of the “Obama doesn’t love America” event, sitting a few seats away from Giuliani, gladly accepted his implied endorsement for the Presidency.)
Nor have I seen any put-downs from Repubs. of Giuliani for the “killer deserves a commendation” comment, but maybe I just missed the one, two, or few who might have too. In fact, Giuliani likely reflects the view of his political compatriots who jumped to the conclusion that the Wilson killing of Michael Brown was entirely justified. He said that Michael Brown, “attempted to assault a police officer, and the police officer -- to save his life -- shot him.” So that one does lead one to the direction of “Giuliani differs from the vast majority of his political colleagues just in the matter of style, not the much more important matter --- substance.” Indeed, Rudy, no, you’re not exceptional. You are, sadly, as far as we can make out from their public statements or lack thereof, typical of today’s Repubs.
So why do the Rightists take positions like Giuliani has taken here? The primary reason is that they want to get the discussion off the real subject at hand. On the “doesn’t love America” thing, Giuliani was talking about it in the context of recognizing that our country does indeed have its faults, ranging from its history of slavery and its successor, the Doctrine of White Supremacy, to its present ever-increasing income/wealth inequality, faults which need fixing, and indeed could be fixed. But,
a) the Repubs. never want to talk about faults, one reason being that it is Rightist policies over time that have been responsible for so many of them.
On the killing of Michael Brown and its aftermath, Giuliani and his fellow Repubs. would much rather have the discussion on whether Michael Brown was correctly shot, than on the fatally (if I may use that term) flawed criminal justice system in Missouri (and it’s not just Ferguson) that made sure that the case would never get to trial in a court of law. Indeed, we will never have the best approximation of what really happened on the tragic day. For as is well-known the “Prosecutor,” acting as Wilson’s defense attorney at the Grand Jury Hearing, made sure that the case would never come to trial. Thus, there would be
a) no real prosecutor, and
This is one of the most important issues in the “Ferguson case,” but it is hardly one that Giuliani and the Repubs. would like to discuss, much less debate. They would much rather have the discussion be around “how could he say such a thing?” Which then quickly descends to the schoolyard level: “I’m right, no you’re not, yes I am, no you’re not,” which serves the Repub. purpose just beautifully.
As for what’s really exceptional about America, the Giuliani’s and the Palins never seem to present their lists, beyond terms like “liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism, and laissez faire”. Here is not the place to discuss a) just how accurate that list is and b) whether other nations do not have elements of it. But it is more important to note that those words do not connote policies. Why? Because Repubs. do everything they can to avoid discussion either policies that they are for (other than a “stronger national defense” for which they never, ever tell us how the money to pay for it is to be raised and/or what other government expenditures are to be cut) or when they find policies they are against, coming up with positive substitutes for them. See the current bashing-of-the-administration over its Iran policy, for which the Repubs., so far have offered absolutely no alternatives --- other than “NO,” that is.
Of course, one can put together a brief not-so-complimentary list of what is exceptional about the U.S., but the Repubs. would surely not want to discuss it. In fact, they just might accuse the one who raised it of “not loving America,” just to, guess what, get the discussion off the substance.
Nevertheless, not necessarily in order of importance here’s a list of some outstanding ways in which the US is indeed exceptional among the nations of the world.
1. The US simply ignores treaties to which it is a party, like the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture, without so much as a by-your leave.By golly, I wonder what Rudy and Sarah would think of that one. Betcha they wouldn’t like it.
October 2, 2015
FORTY-FIVE YEARS ago Gamal Abd-al-Nasser died at the early age of 52. It is not an event of the past. It continues to have a huge influence on the present, and probably will on the future.