Last week, former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, appearing at a private fundraiser for Wisconsin governor and likely contender for the Republican presidential nomination, was making ridiculous and false claims about President Obama's patriotism. According to Mr. Giuliani, he does not believe the "President loves America." Giuliani claimed that President Obama, "wasn't brought up through love of this country," but rather that "President Obama was brought up in an atmosphere where he was taught to be a critic of America." Given a chance to back down on these comments on several network news shows, the mayor instead doubled down.
As an American, a Navy veteran, and someone who went to the same Catholic high school as former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, (Bishop Loughlin Memorial in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn), and served with him in the Regan administration, (he was an Assistant Attorney General while I was an Assistant Secretary of Defense), I am appalled by the comments that he made about President Obama last week.
The clear implications of the former mayor's comments is that, unlike President Obama, Giuliani is a patriot and loves America. However, examining his actions it is clear that Rudy Giuliani avoided every chance he had to be a real patriot and serve his country.
Giuliani graduated from Manhattan College in 1965, just as President Johnson was ordering the massive buildup of our forces in Vietnam. Did Giuliani join the military as patriots like Secretary of State John Kerry did after graduating from Yale, or as former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel did right after graduating from high school?
No! Giuliani applied for another deferment to attend NYU law school, rather than deferring his law school attendance, as John Kerry did. Upon graduating from NYU Law Giuliani was classified as 1-A, available to be drafted. Did he join the armed forces or allow himself to be drafted into the Army or the Marines? Again, no! Like former Vice President Cheney, Giuliani applied for another deferment. When this was rejected by the draft board, Giuliani got his boss, Judge Lloyd Francis MacMahan, to write a letter to the draft board saying that Giuliani, who was working for the judge as a law clerk, was an essential employee.
I wonder if Giuliani ever wondered what other people the draft board had to take because of his deferments. A real patriot would. (A point my own father made to me when I wanted to get a deferment to go to graduate school.)
The former mayor had another chance to show his love of country when he was appointed to the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel that was established by the Congress in 2006 to assess the war in Iraq and make recommendations for rescuing the U.S. from one of the most devastating strategic mistakes we had ever made. However, Giuliani again had other priorities, including well-compensated public appearances. He missed all of the group's meetings, including briefings by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, all because he had other priorities. As a result he was forced to resign from the study group after being given an ultimatum by the head of the group, former Secretary of State James Baker.
At a reunion of Bishop Loughlin High School that I attended, one of the Christian Brothers who taught both of us remarked to me, "I wonder what happened to Rudy. He was such a nice boy when he was here." After hearing his remarks about President Obama, I wonder as well.