Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani recently said, “I do not believe that the President loves America . . . What I’m saying is that, in his rhetoric, I very rarely hear him say the things that I used to hear Ronald Reagan say, the things I used to hear Bill Clinton say about how much he loves America. [On the other hand] I do hear him criticize America much more often than other American presidents.”
The President’s background and record seem to support Giuliani’s contention. On the other hand, Giuliani’s claim to know what is in Obama’s heart is at very least presumptuous. What, then, is the most reasonable view of the matter?
Let’s look first at the relevant facts. Obama was influenced in his youth by Frank Marshall Davis, a communist, and later by Saul Alinsky, a radical community organizer and author of Rules for Radicals.
Then, for seventeen years Obama went to the church of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, famous for his response to 9/11—“America’s chickens have come home to roost,” and “Not God bless America, God D— America.” Obama also associated with Bill Ayres, a radical member of the Weather Underground.
Consider, too, Obama’s rhetoric after being elected President, often characterized as “apologizing for America.” For example, these statements, some made to foreign audiences.
America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive [of Europe]. France, April 3, 2009
While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms. Trinidad, April 17, 2009
I just think in a world that is as complex as it is, that it is very important for us to be able to forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions. London, April 2, 2009
. . .All too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight; that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions . . . We went off course. Washington DC, May 21, 2009
And that’s why we can never sacrifice [our values] for expedience’s sake. That’s why I’ve ordered the closing of the detention center in Guantanamo Bay. France, April 3, 2009
Every challenge that we face is more easily met if we tend to our own democratic foundation. This work is never over. That’s why, in the United States, we recently ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. That’s why we prohibited–without exception or equivocation–the use of torture. All of us have to change. Turkey, April 6 2009
Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. Op-ed article, April 16, 2009
The existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained. So the record is clear: Rather than keeping us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies. Address, May 21, 2009
Even more interesting than any list of the President’s criticisms of America is the central theme and goal of the Obama presidency—“the fundamental transformation of America.” Critics see this phrase as proof that he does not love America because, they reason, people don’t seek to fundamentally transform what they love.
Or do they?
A cynic once remarked that men typically expect that their wives will not change after marriage, women typically expect that their husbands will change, and both end up disappointed. In the case of the women, their expectation is fueled by their intention to direct the changing.
Cynicism and possible sexism aside, it cannot be denied that some people, men and women, behave precisely this way with the ones they love. If we were to ask how they can claim to love their spouses and yet be so dissatisfied with them, they would likely answer, “Because my spouse would be perfect . . . except for this and that . . . and that and this . . . and a host of other things. It is love that makes me strive to improve him (her).”
President Obama may be very much like those nagging, fault-finding spouses, and I am not being facetious. In other words, he may believe America is not great but could be if he succeeds in reshaping it to fit his vision. He may even regard his program of transforming America as proof of his love!
All things considered, there is no way to read Obama’s psyche, so speculating about whether he loves America is not only presumptuous—it is also pointless. Let’s all agree that if Obama loves America, he has a peculiar way of showing it, and then move on to the more important consideration of how his presidency is impacting America and the rest of the world.
Copyright © 2015 by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. All rights reserved
VINCENT RYAN RUGGIERO, M.A., is Professor of Humanities Emeritus, State University of New York, Delhi College. Prior to his twenty-nine year career in education, he was a social caseworker and an industrial engineer. The author of twenty-one books, his trade books include Warning: Nonsense Is Destroying America and The Practice of Loving Kindness. His textbooks include The Art of Thinking and Beyond Feelings, both in 10th editions and available in Chinese as well as English, Thinking Critically About Ethical Issues, and A Guide to Sociological Thinking. His latest book, Corrupted Culture: Rediscovering America’s Enduring Principles, Values, and Common Sense, is available at Amazon and in bookstores. Professor Ruggiero is internationally recognized as one of the pioneers of the Critical Thinking movement in education. Earlier in his career, he published essays in a variety of magazines and journals, including America, Catholic Mind, The Sign, The Lamp, and Catholic World.