A couple of posts down, we talked about Rudy Giuliani's insane claim that Barack Obama became a commie under the tutelage of some mysterious, not-quite-visible Marxists whom he (Obama) supposedly met at the age of nine.
In yesterday's post, I noted that these alleged commie "agents of influence" are the products of the right-wing imagination. For example, Giuliani claims that one of these agents was Saul Alinski. Alinski was not a socialist and Obama never met him.
O'Reilly mentions Frank Marshall Davis, who did indeed know Obama's maternal grandfather. But the grandfather did not himself become any kind of a Marxist as a result of this association -- and neither, I feel certain, did young Obama.
In that earlier post, I noted that Rudy Giuliani's father was heavily involved in the mafia and even did a stint in Sing-Sing. By Giuliani's rules, we should now be drawing all sorts of dark conclusions about Rudy Giuliani.
(I'm not saying that Rudy is mobbed up. I'm saying that it is easier to believe that Rudy is mobbed up than to believe that a "Marxist" President would put Tim freakin' Geithner
in charge of the economy.)
Rudy is at it again.
There's one passage in particular I'd like to discuss...
“He doesn’t talk about America the way John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan did, about America’s greatness and exceptionalism,” said Giuliani.
“He was educated by people who were critics of the US. And he has not been able to overcome those influences.”
We cannot allow the right-wingers to replace the John Kennedy of history with a figment of their imaginations, which is exactly what Giuliani is trying to do here.
I don't recall a single speech in which JFK used that rather vile right-wing buzzword "exceptionalism." The right has redefined that term to mean "America gets to push other nations around without having to abide by international law." That's not the way Kennedy looked at the world.
True, he did
say that America had to bear burdens which other nations did not carry. But if you look at his record, you'll see that he usually emphasized cooperation and mutual respect, even when dealing with nations opposed to our policies. For example, Kennedy's Alliance for Progress was created to foster international cooperation in economic matters.
In the final months of his life, JFK proposed scrapping the space race and inviting the USSR on a joint mission to the moon. That important fact is routinely ignored by those who bleat about American "exceptionalism."
Before Kennedy's presidency, America's attitude toward the non-aligned countries was marked by condescension and outright thuggery. Kennedy's policies
were much humbler:
But beyond these matters, it was Kennedy's policies in places like Congo, Portuguese Africa, and West Irian that really brought him the appreciation and sympathy of the leaders of the non-aligned nations. These actions symbolized a clean break from the "with us or against us" attitude of John Foster Dulles. And it therefore acknowledged the desire of the non-aligned countries to go their own way with confidence. Knowing that the new president would understand that independence from Washington's dictates did not mean automatic alliance with the USSR...
For an excellent "slide" presentation on JFK's foreign policy farsightedness, go here
Although the socialists who supposedly influenced Barack Obama are nothing more than right-wing hallucinations, there was
a socialist who had an impact on John Kennedy. His name was Harold Laski
, and his students at the London School of Economics included both Joe and Jack Kennedy.
In the 1960s, a few far-right nutballs
argued that Laski had converted John Kennedy to a form of Marxism. Those claims prefigured the things that Rudy is saying now about Obama -- with one big difference: Giuliani is not on the fringe
. In fact, he is considered to be within the mainstream of the Republican party, and many tea partiers would denounce him as too liberal.
How our political landscape has changed!
JFK's father, Joseph Kennedy, was asked about the "Laski connection." His words (as recorded in Michael O'Brien's JFK biography) are worth quoting here...
"I was confident that they [Joe and John] were both mature enough and sensible enough to be able to hear the other side and still make a choice for themselves." His sons, he made clear, "are going to have a little money when they get older, and they should know what the have-nots are thinking and planning... They should be exposed to someone of intelligence and vitality on the other side."
Contrary to Rudy Giuliani, I wish that Barack Obama had
been exposed, during his college years, to "someone of intelligence and vitality" committed to the cause of the "have-nots." There was nobody like that at Occidental in Los Angeles. (There was, however, a political science professor linked to American intelligence, who may have seen young Obama as a promising recruit.) Later still, Obama fell under the influence of Zbigniew Brzezinski, who resembles Harold Laski about as much as I resemble Groot.