The media are all ablither about Rudy Giulani's recent accusation that the President does not "love America."  

What does it mean?  It must mean something -- or more than one thing -- because so many people are reacting so strongly. It means different things to different people. A few guesses:

(1)  It may mean nothing at all, beyond a verbal litmus test.  Love America = good. Hate America = bad.  No in-between, no qualifications.  Which leads to...

(2) Obama, because of the socialists and lefties he was exposed to, not to mention Reverend Wright -- and because he is a man who appreciates balance and nuance, dares to point out America's faults, to acknowledge its errors and weaknesses, or to apologize for it abroad.  No one who loves America would do this.

(3) He loves the freedom that we pride ourselves on, even if it's little more than the freedom to complain and consume (actually, a dozen nations are more free, and none has more citizens incarcerated).

(4) He loves American exceptionalism -- a civic religion that says we are #1 in everything and the kind of society others should aspire to, even if we have to force them to do it.  That's why only we are qualified to be the world's policeman, guardian of the sea lanes, etc.. We are the good guys, always.

and (5), the root cause of the other four:

Obama has not, in Giulaini's eyes, had the requisite American apple-pie experience.  He did not grow up on the streets of NY or Chicago or San Antonio, or on a farm in Kansas or a ranch in Texas -- or anyplace really American.  He lacks the experience of living in a thoroughly American society -- and we have many, from Cambridge to Miami to Arizona and Wyoming.  Obama spent his formative years in Indonesia and attended an elite private school in Hawaii.  He may pretend to understand ordinary Americans, but he does not.  

So as this accusation is batted about for the next few news cycles, notice how no one is trying to define the phrase "love America."  Confucius said that you have to define your terms before you can have a discussion.  It's fun to watch the talking heads argue about words (and hey, they're only words!) that are, in context, meaningless.  

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He may love America, but I don't think he's a great fan of the constitution (not that Guliani is either).

DOJ under him has used the 'national security' claim to stonewall legal investigations into government behavior FAR more than Bush did.

It is the most excruciating of ironies that a Constitutional law professor runs the most unconstitutional government ever -- and seeks to increase it.  WTF?? I do not get it.  Is this like those educated religious believers who check their brains at the door?  I wouldn't give Obama a D in Constitution 101.  Question for Obama: which of the federal government's activities and agencies are unconstitutional?   Minimum 1000 words.

Alan, agreed

Your concluding paragraph says it all nicely, Alan. I don't feel that Obama could ever measure up to the "American pie" experience that so many seem to want him to. His very upbringing alone has caused him to feel that he comes from 3 worlds. In Indonesia as the stepson of Lolo Soetoro he was in a different world than here in America. He also barely knew his Kenyan father, and this too, is another world. Barack went back to Kenya to know all of his father's family. Indeed he has as many relatives as the typical Kenyan Luo today. I'm listing a link here to follow:


The Luo people love him in Kenya. Just yesterday I ran onto a former fellow worker who somehow managed to damn Obama for "Obamacare." This man has a median job and 6 kids. He gets back big bucks at the end of the year. How would the ACA possibly affect him?

Obama is change. He certainly is not "apple pie" in the American way.

Then again, was FDR a typical American?  A child of great privilege, his wealth originating from his Delano family who became rich by selling opium in China. 

Hollywood Reagan?

The early slave-owner presidents, founders of the USA, would not fit in today with many voters.  Some, maybe.

But Jimmie Carter, he was pretty dyed-in-the-wool All-American Baptist, I think.  I know he was loved by all, especially the conservative, bible-carrying south.  Um, maybe not.

Good points, Daniel.  Reagan grew up in a small town in IL.  FDR shows that you don't have to be OF the common people -- you just have to be able to connect with them and their concerns.  Reagan never lost that ability.  And whoever you are, you have to be able to articulate the American Civic Creed (#1, etc.).

Let me share my Founders Handicap.  It was the 18th century!  They pulled off an amazing feat, defeated the worrld's leading military power, then did the brainwork of carving out, in precise verbiage (if they'd been a team of Hillary Clintons, it would be 2,000 pages long)  a government that did a few things well and left people to pursue happiness.  What a novel idea!  Your life belongs to you, not the monarch or the church,  I'm willing to cut them a lot of slack, from slavery to women's rights.  Look where they came from.   

Right - on his own...see below.  

Favorite W moments:

(1) While playing golf, he delivers a stern warning to terrorists, then says to his companions, "Watch this drive."  CNN cut that part.

(2) Telling Yalies they can get C's and still become President.  Could he have more rudely rubbed their faces in his extraordinary privilege?  BTW, it takes two. You cannot have a W without an army of weak-minded, willing believers.  I wouldn't follow him.

(3) Giving Angela Merkel an unsolicited shoulder rub.


The two W presidencies are as much a reflection on Americans who enable and practice this kind of idolatry.  

Poppy Bush had some administrative abilities and could have run a company. W was a failure at everything. His brain is so coked out that he couldn't work at Radio Shack.  I see him as a grocery bagger ("See, I put the eggs in this bag here...") 

Daniel,Loved your hierarchy of Southern saints.  Are Johnny Cash and Dale Earnhart to be found a little farther down the list?  And why do so many Americans have only one criterion for a President -- his eagerness to go to war and kick ass?

Thanks, Michael.  I bet all those Africans in his family make many Americans uncomfortable, if not outright angry.  Americans, in their obsession with ethnicity, won't feel that we really got an African-American President until it's a thoroughly American black man (no darker than Ertic Holder) who's not threatening to whites, but wise and mature and leaderly -- and, importantly, accent-free.  I nominate Morgan Freeman. 

Don't think I know who that is...Samuel Jackson or Denzel Washington would make good black Presidents.

"Carson also defended his belief in creationism, telling host Chuck Todd, "I find a very good measure of correlation between my religious beliefs and my scientific beliefs. People say, 'How can you be a scientist, how can you be a surgeon if you don't believe in certain things?' Maybe those things aren't scientific, maybe it is just propaganda."

"Despite a career in medicine, Carson, a Seventh-day Adventist, is an outspoken creationist who openly questions evolutionary theory. He also denies that climate change is real, a view that puts him at odds with the vast majority of the scientific community."

Ben Carson

He's got to be a master at compartmentalization!

(illustration by Mark Jarman, at Michael Shermer's Scientific American article "The Mind’s Compartments Create Conflicting Beliefs: How our modular brains lead us to deny and distort evidence")




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