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Is Rudy the Rev Al of the Right?

02/22/2015 09:56 pm ET | Updated Feb 22, 2015

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By Mark Green

They're both famous, divisive, demagogic headline-hunters and racial accelerants - and problems for their respective parties given their unpopularity with large blocks of voters along racial lines. Lowry and LaMarche discuss Rudy's slam that Obama doesn't "love America" and GOP criticism that he doesn't have the right phrasing or policy about ISIS. Also: Is Walker ready for prime-time?

On Giuliani on Americanism. "America's Mayor" took his moniker to heart by presuming to define what it means to be "American." He asserted at a NYC fundraiser at 21 for Gov. Walker that the President "doesn't love America" because he wasn't raised like him and the audience, doesn't love him or the donors there as a result, doesn't say really that his country is "exceptional"...and later added that his comments weren't racist since "Obama has a white mother and [set of] grandparents."

Gara responds with the pithiest answer in the history of BSN: "He's Donald Trump without he bankruptcies." Rich first informs us that he was indeed at the event "when Rudy breezed in 45 minutes late to a standing O and gets a seat of honor next to Walker...and then says something that I knew right away would be the big news." Your thoughts on what he said? "It's a point that can't be defended. I assume he meant that the President is a man of the left who's been more critical of American Exceptionalism, though he can show his love of country" in other ways.

Host, may I fill some of Gara's unused time? I know Giuliani reasonably well from serving with him in City government for his eight years as Mayor while I was the ranking Democrat as Public Advocate. First, he was very smart, disciplined, argumentative and governed by a bundle of passions and prejudices. Now his prejudices are overwhelming his smarts by indulging in a version of "birtherism" by regarding Obama as The Other.

As for being brought up somehow better than Obama, Rudy should be careful about judging other's families since, while Obama certainly had a no-show father, something he can't be blamed for, Rudy had a father who was a small-time gangster who went to jail for theft, something he too can't be blamed for.

Second, as for knowing about love, Wayne Barrett, author of two Giuliani biographies and journalist who dug out the story about Rudy's father, weighs in on the Mayor's own love life in a scathing online piece. And if "loving" him and the crowd at 21 is a test of patriotism, it's a test many "Americans" would fail.

Third, Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave Giuliani what's called "Four Pinocchios" reserved for the biggest lies since there are scores of times in speeches that the President has said he thinks America's exceptional.

Last, Rudy's comment about Obama's mother being white is of course technically accurate but profoundly misleading since, by all accounts, he's considered the first black President.

Giuliani is rewriting his obit and not in a good way -- having gone from a popular crime-fighting mayor to Nixonian near the end of his second term in office, to a Churchill overnight on 9/11, now back to a "nasty man" (the title of Koch's book on him, Koch being the reigning expert on nasty mayors).

He is coming to resemble two figures, in my mind. One is Al Smith, a great New York Governor who in his later years, embittered by how FDR succeeded and excelled him, became a bitter right-winger.

Another more recent comparison, in style though not substance, is Al Sharpton. Both are unarguably divisive, belligerent, media-craving racial accelerants who each wrap themselves around a high principle - respectively, fighting terrorism and fighting racism.

And both are problems fore their respective parties, since Giuliani is loathed by nonwhites but embraced by white Catholics while the Rev is precisely the opposite, influential with African American voters yet 50 points less popular with white voters. For example, it was when Mayor de Blasio invited Rev Razzle Dazzle to sit with him and Police Commissioner Bratton at City Hall, where Al lectured them both -- and then the tabloids being tabloid -- wondered "who's in charge," that de Blasio's numbers among white voters plummeted.

On Obama & ISIS. Is the President showing a fundamental naivete of the Middle East by not denouncing ISIS's "Islamic extremism" or showing real long-term wisdom by refusing to play into its framework of East-West, Islam versus Christianity?

Gara thinks it smart "to drive a wedge between this aberrant group and most Muslims" as Bush did when he wouldn't call it a War with Islam...not to mention that "2000 airstrikes on ISIS" shows a pretty robust military policy. Just as the Klan was "religiously based", we have to be careful not to tar all with the same brush and imply that, say, all Southern Protestants were in the Klan or all Muslims support be-headings of infidels.

Lowry understands what Obama's trying to do but argues that he can be both strong and clear in calling them out for its religious basis."In fact, Bush did occasionally talk about Islamic extremists because that's what they are."

There is some consensus on next steps in Iraq and Syria: i.e., looking to American air power to hold things in place while training and awaiting a combination of Iraq military, shia militia and Kurdish Peshmerga, with some supplemental U.S. troops, to coin a phrase, "leading form behind.:

On Fallows & Military. Jim Fallows's Atlantic cover last month asked why America has the best and best-equipped soldiers yet keep losing wars to local, lightly armed insurgents. Is it partly because in a WWII 10 percent of America fought yet today under one percent have gone to the Middle East and most policy-makers don't have family or friends who have gone?

Lowry questions whether we are losing wars, counting Iraq as a victory after the surge when Obama botched things up. And while fewer serve in today's volunteer army, at least there are more veterans running for and winning congressional office, his favorite being Sen. Rick Cotton of Arkansas.

On Scott Walker & Prime Time. Is he really in the top-tier of GOP 2016 prospects and how'd that happen?

As our on-air Republican expert, Lowry reports that when he asked 400 conservatives on a recent National Review cruise who they liked for President, 75 percent were for Walker! Why? "Because he fought and won three times" recently over liberal Democrats while "Jeb was last a governor in 2002, skipping all the Obama years. But the key question now is: can he scale up to the national level since he has a reputation of being something of a one-man-band in Wisconsin.

LaMarche is open to see if there's more 'there there' but concludes that a) it's ridiculous to carp on the fact that he lacks a college degree because he dropped out of Marquette in this senior year but b) did himself no good on the international and national stage by "punting" on evolution while in Great Britain.

On Jon Stewarts Retirement. The Host posits that Stewart's one of the most influential liberals in America given his skills and platform and cannot be easily replaced. The two agree about his reach, especially in social media and twitter to a younger cohort. But Rich complains how Stewart feigns civility when he himself is insulting/ snarky and poor-mouths himself as just a comedian whenever anyone questions his own political preferences.
Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now.

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

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