Slow Your Roll, Giuliani. By Your Own Standard, Obama’s More Conservative Than You

Rudy Giuliani in 2014
Rob Kim/Getty Images
Rudy Giuliani in 2014
Rob Kim/Getty Images

I suppose we’re almost to the point where there’s less than nothing to be gained by evaluating Republicans’ now yearslong running narrative about how un-American, unpatriotic and unlike anyone else we’ve ever seen President Barack Obama is.


For convenience’s sake, let’s call it “the Othering.”

But just in case we’re not quite to that point yet, allow me to just mention to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani that despite his protestation Thursday that the problem with Obama’s leadership is that he hasn’t been saying more of “the kinds of stuff Bill Cosby used to say,” Giuliani is safe to stand down and relax.

Because President Obama has actually been offering the kind of old-school, bootstrap words of wisdom that Giuliani is referring to, all along the way. It’s just that the mayor—like so many of his contemporaries—isn’t choosing to see it.

For the moment, I’ll leave aside Cosby’s recent, and rapid, descent into disrepute, and Giuliani’s other—frankly, disgraceful—remarks blaming Obama for Ferguson.

The point here is that the now shopworn narrative that Obama—the only president since Dwight Eisenhower to twice win the popular vote—is a flaming radical who is incapable of expressing his love for America is utterly inconsistent with the record.

Here are a few examples from the president’s oeuvre.

* On social safety-net programs, at a 2012 Twitter town hall:

I think we should acknowledge that some welfare programs in the past were not well designed and in some cases did encourage dependency. As somebody who worked in low-income neighborhoods, I’ve seen it where people weren’t encouraged to work, weren’t encouraged to upgrade their skills, were just getting a check, and over time their motivation started to diminish.


* On American history, in his second inaugural address in 2013 (which, as I wrote at the time, was a thoroughly conservative speech):

The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.


* On the fight for civil rights, at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington:

And then, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that during the course of 50 years, there were times when some of us claiming to push for change lost our way. … And what had once been a call for equality of opportunity, the chance for all Americans to work hard and get ahead was too often framed as a mere desire for government support—as if we had no agency in our own liberation, as if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child, and the bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself.


* And my favorite example, the president’s 2009 back-to-school speech, encouraging students to work hard do their homework; a speech that Republicans, en masse, decried as an attempt to “indoctrinate” the nation’s youth:

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life—what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home—that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. …

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future. …

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work—that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality-TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard.

So, apparently, is being Giuliani these days—a guy fellow Republican and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough characterized Friday morning as becoming “less relevant with every one of these statements” he makes to try disparaging Obama.


Of course, as president, Obama gets more chances than Giuliani to make big speeches.

But if you compare the record—and if you go by Giuliani’s own standard—you could make the case that Obama is more conservative than he is.


David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter