NEW YORK – “We need a President who is like a Ronald Reagan to the world,” in terms of America’s assertiveness, said former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “We have to be the world’s policeman,” because if we’re not, there will be a vacuum “and an Iranian empire” pitted against the rest of the Middle East, and soon enough everyone will have atomic weapons, the former mayor proclaimed on the February 22 edition of Cats Roundtable, the Sunday morning AM Radio political show hosted by Greek-American self-made billionaire and 2013 Mayoral Candidate John Catsimatidis.
At the root of the latest national political brouhaha – Giuliani’s stark remark that: “I don’t believe President Obama loves America” – was Catsimatidis himself. Not that he echoed those sentiments – in fact, in a subsequent interview with the New York Daily News, Catsimatidis explained: “I wouldn’t have said it. I respect the position of president.” But it was at an economic forum dinner hosted by Catsimatidis in Manhattan on February 18 where Giuliani made the remark. Since then, the former mayor has been in the national spotlight to a greater extent than he’s been in seven years – since his unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid.
Giuliani sticks by his comments and made more news in his Cats Roundtable interview, when he told Catsimatidis just what he meant by his criticism of the president, and elaborated on what he thinks the next president’s role ought to be in the world.
To describe the backlash Giuliani has received over the past week following his February 18 comments, Catsimatidis began the interview by saying: “we hit a nerve somewhere, and you made national news.” Giuliani immediately broke into a prolonged laugh, his trademark response when he finds something utterly absurd. “I’ve said it maybe 30 times before,” Giuliani began, “but this time it hit a nerve. Maybe because the president is on such defense about his unwillingness to face Islamic extremist terrorism.
“I said that when I listen to the president’s speeches, I don’t detect the kind of love for America that I’ve seen from other American presidents. He’s a critic first, and then he praises us. As opposed to praising us, and then mentioning our criticisms and how he’s going to improve it.”
Giuliani continued, focusing less on what we have in a president and more on what we ought to have, moving forward: “We need a president like Ronald Reagan, who gives us a sense of optimism, and sees American exceptionalism, and doesn’t see us as just another country.”
But then Giuliani reverted to Obama, wondering why the president will not talk about Muslim extremists specifically, and why he speaks about barbaric Christians during the Crusades “but doesn’t finish the sentence,” to explain that their acts were in response to acts by barbaric Muslims. “That is not only wrong,” Giuliani said, “but it is becoming very dangerous.”
Catsimatidis then pointed out that Obama has not done enough to support the efforts of our Middle East allies in the fight against ISIS, with which Giuliani agreed and attributed it to Obama’s lack of leadership: “he grew up and at a very early age was taught communism…He was exposed to that whole movement criticizing America. I think he just looks at us differently.” Days earlier in a New York Times interview, Giuliani dismissed notions that his remarks were racist as “a joke” because these notions were instilled into him by white people: his mother, his grandfather, teachers, etc.
Giuliani went further, finding it illogical that Obama doesn’t use the term “Islamic extremist terrorists” because it might offend our Muslim allies, but then points out that Egyptian President General Sisi uses those very words.
“Doesn’t the president realize,” Giuliani continued, that if the United States is not the policeman of the world, “that vacuum is going to get filled by somebody else?” It will be filled by Russia, China, and Iran, he said.
Speaking of Russia, Catsimatidis reminded that its president, Vladimir Putin, threatened to arm Iran to go into Saudi Arabia if President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel went into Ukraine. “Could you imagine Ronald Reagan submitting to that?” Giuliani asked. “No, I couldn’t,” Catsimatidis replied. Reagan “would have tripled the army that he put in NATO,” Giuliani said, “and he would have told Putin: ‘make my day!’”
And that would have backed Putin down, because “as I wrote in my book, the only thing you can do with bullies is stand up to them.” Catsimatidis echoed, “absolutely.” Giuliani believes that because Obama drew red lines and then didn’t follow up in the past, Putin’s attitude is “man, I can push this guy all over the place.”
What about the 2016 presidential race, “have you picked a horse yet?” Catsimatidis asked. That question brought the discussion full circle, because it is “how we got to this ‘loving America’ thing” to begin with, Giuliani replied. He thinks there are a bunch of good candidates out there who will all have by and large the same domestic policy, but the candidate who stands out must be a “Ronald Reagan in the world. I want America to assert itself again. And I want a president who is not embarrassed to say: ‘America is the strongest power on earth, and we are going to assert ourselves, so stand aside. And I want our enemies to be afraid of our president. I want ISIS to be afraid of our president. I want (Iran leader) the Ayatollah [Ali Khamenei] to quake in his boots when he thinks about what the President of the United States could do to him. That’s the only way we’re going to defeat them. Not with all this namby-pamby silly stuff.”
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