The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, February 23, 2015


Rudy Giuliani and Barack Obama are polar opposites. Giuliani is a straight talker, speaking his mind with a classic New York flair. That sometimes gets him into trouble, but at least you know where he stands on a particular issue. Obama is a sigificantly more nuanced, always equivocating and often changing positions and his interpretation of facts as fluidly as a cameleon changes its colors.

Last week, Rudy suggested that Barack Obama doesn't love the United States in the same way that many other Americans do. It was a impolitic statement, one that Rudy himself indicated was "horrible." No one can know what 'love for country' Barack Obama has in his heart, so it's impossible to argue Rudy's accusation on either the pro or con side. What we can do is look at this president's actions and words over the past few decades. We can also look at the people he has been associated with before he was president and his speeches, appointments, and actions as president for clues. But clues are all they are.

In the fallout following Rudy's statement, Obama supporters were apoplectic, vilifying Rudy as a racist (what racism has to do with it can only be conjured in the fevered imagination of a Leftist) and generally screaming bloody murder about the entire affair.

Liberal pundit, Mike Barnacle, is typical in his criticism:
So here we are at the start of a week after the country witnessed Rudy Giuliani doing a backstroke through the gutter of American politics. Apparently desperate for attention, the former mayor of New York jumped out of his seat at a gathering of wealthy Republicans who had assembled at the 21 Club in Manhattan in order to do a loud, please notice me, clown act.
Funny, that Barnacle never seems to mention when Obama does fundraising among "wealthy" democrats, but I suppose that's beside the point. Along with dozens of Obama supporters, Barnacle attempts to psychoanalyze Giuliani, suggesting that his statement is a cry for recognition, rather than a serious, albeit partisan, observation about a left-wing president. They might be right, but since we're psychoanalyzing people, let's take a look at Richard Fernandez's far more insightful analysis of Obama. Fernandez suggests that Obama is what can be called a "charismatic leader." He then writes:
A charismatic leader derives authority from himself; from an astounding life story, from attributes possessed by no other man. The approach has become common and we know the sort; the Native American who became a law professor and then Senator; the single mother who wanted to be a governor. The life-story is now standard, but Obama was clearly special. From the very beginning of his career Obama argued that his unique biography — his bi-racial parentage, foreign upbringing, his literary skills etc — made him a special person. By virtue of these gifts he could heal racial divisions; reach out to the Muslim world; bridge the gap between rich and poor and serve as a link between the generations.

By contrast most American presidents derived their greatness from the position, many simply political hacks who we remember today simply because they occupied the Oval Office. Obama marks the first time in recent memory when the office is deemed uplifted by the man and not the other way round. Charismatic leadership has its advantages, which is why it occurs repeatedly in history. It permits the charismatic person to “be bigger than the job” and do great things. Men with this attribute, like Alexander, Caesar or Napoleon seem to rise above the rules and constraints that bind mere human beings. It’s natural that Obama would prefer to be a ‘special’ president rather than an ordinary one.

Yet as someone said to a student who aspired to drop out of college “like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs”, you have to first be sure you can walk that walk before casting your academic career to the winds. Because charismatic leadership has some drawbacks. The most obvious being that since power flows from the person himself then when Rudy Giuliani publicly questioned Obama’s patriotism he was attacking the wellsprings of the administration ...

What Giuliani had done was undermine Obama’s legitimacy. Because so much of Obama’s “power” comes from his special-ness that to question his patriotism is to strike at the basis for his governance. It was, as in a monarchy, tantamount to rebellion. The reason that similar remarks by Obama about George Bush’s patriotism evoked simple shrugs was because Bush was just an ordinary president, the latest in a line of politicians to occupy the office since George Washington.

But Obama is different. One cannot understand, for example, the vituperation vented by Dana Milbank at Scott Walker, calling him out for “cowardice”, arguing for his “disqualification” (yes those are the words) for the simple act of refusing to publicly repudiate Giuliani’s words about the president, unless one grasps this essential fact. Obama is different. The Obama phenomenon is founded so completely on his legend that to attack the legend is to undermine the very foundations of the tower on which he stands.

But this is not the first time the Obama myth has been directly impugned. The first major political figure to accidentally touch the Third Rail was Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has become an extraordinary hate object in the press, not because of any views he may hold on policy, but because Netanyahu had the temerity to disrespect Obama. Netanyahu must have been astonished by the charge of electricity that gave back on him.

Disrespect America, even attack it if you want, and you will not receive a tenth such voltage as did Netanyahu. The torrent of hostility poured upon Netanyahu was so out of proportion to any conceivable offense, that he probably felt obliged to persist in coming, reasoning that he must be on to something. Yet the myth of the president has been crumbling abroad for some time. Readers will recall that Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande recently made the almost unheard-of move of negotiating directly with Vladimir Putin over Ukraine without receiving instructions from the “leader of the free world”.
It's always fun to flip the psychoanalysis from the analyzed to the analyzer. A volcano of protest erupted from the left when Giuliani—an national political figure—dared to suggest what he suggested. The volcano is best explained not by Barnacle et al who demonized Rudy by throwing a collective tantrum, but rather by Fernandez's cogent analysis of the kind of 'leader' that Obama is.