Over the last week, Republican luminaries including a couple of 2016 presidential short-listers got caught up in an interesting debate over a pressing political question–does President Barack Obama love America? Not in some abstract sense–when that Alan Jackson song about 9/11 comes on the radio, does it make President Obama cry?
Okay, you're right. This is neither an interesting debate nor a pressing political question. Nonetheless, GOP-leaning PJ Media reports that conservative minds want to know:
Every Republican, especially those with an eye on 2016, is now being asked to confirm or repudiate the opinion of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on President Obama’s feelings toward America.
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country,” Giuliani said at a Wednesday dinner in Manhattan with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker…
Now, it's been a long time since anybody seriously thought of the once-popular Rudy Giuliani as "America's Mayor," and in truth he's been sliding into irrelevance for some time, apparently trying to compete with fellow washed-up New York blowhard Donald Trump for who can utter the most outrageous statement about black people. Graded on the curve, Giuliani's rant about Obama not "loving America" isn't really all that noteworthy.
What gets a little harder to explain, though, is when much more politically viable Republican politicians, including some who might actually want to be President themselves someday, voluntarily start trafficking in the same shallow invective as the Giulianis and Trumps of the world. Washington Post:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a prospective Republican presidential contender, said Saturday he does not know whether President Obama is a Christian.
“I don’t know,” Walker said in an interview at the JW Marriott hotel in Washington, where he was attending the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.
Told that Obama has frequently spoken publicly about his Christian faith, Walker maintained that he was not aware of the president’s religion…
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal stood by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s criticism of President Obama Wednesday.
“The gist of what Mayor Giuliani said – that the President has shown himself to be completely unable to speak the truth about the nature of the threats from these ISIS terrorists — is true,” Jindal, a likely GOP presidential candidate, said in a statement to TIME. “If you are looking for someone to condemn the Mayor, look elsewhere.” [Pols emphasis]
As the gratuitous questioning of President Obama's faith and "love of America" ramped up last week among allegedly serious Republican politicians, our thoughts travelled back–to a May 2012 dinner hosted by the Elbert County, Colorado GOP. Rep. Mike Coffman responded to a loaded audience question about President Obama's citizenship, saying "I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don’t know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he’s not an American. He’s just not an American."
Within a few days, Coffman was in full damage control mode, and his robotic "I misspoke and I apologize" answer delivered over and over on camera made him a nationwide laughingstock–not a career-ender as it narrowly turned out that year, but without a doubt the greatest public embarrassment of Coffman's long career in politics.
Well folks, so much speculation by high level Republicans about Obama's love of country should make Coffman's views on Obama's American-ness relevant all over again. Don't you think? At the very least, Coffman could give his colleagues a lesson in how not to apologize! Either way, it does appear this strange xenophobic uncertainty about America's first black President is still a problem for Coffman's party.
Which means it's still a problem for Coffman.