Politicians Need to Learn How to Speak
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
American Politics has been permeated with ugly political attacks by politicians and by many leaders who avoid or even obfuscate the truth in their speeches for political reasons. Rarely have there been politicians who have gone to such extremes or avoidances as have occurred over the past week. On the one hand, President Obama repeatedly has been afraid to call radical Islamic terrorists Muslims who have perverted Islam. On the other hand, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, addressing some Republican large givers, called the President unpatriotic.
When attacks are performed by Islamic terrorists in Paris, in Copenhagen, in Nigeria or anywhere in the world, there is no other world for it than Muslim generated and Muslim based radicalism. No amount of desire by the President to curry favor with Muslim leaders or to opt for political correctness–in the extreme–is acceptable. Were attacks against LGBT individuals or groups to have occurred it is a certainty that the President would have branded such action as “gay-bashing”. Similarly, slurs or charges against women would be called out as sexist. Verbal and physical attacks as occurred this summer in Ferguson or Staten Island against African-Americans were immediately identified as racist. There was not nor would there be any equivocating or denying the obvious, as there continues to be by the Obama Administration in the case of clear radical Islamic terrorism.
Meanwhile, the country watched Rudy Giuliani stoop as low as he could possibly have gone in his inexcusable effort to impugn the President’s patriotism and love of country. Giuliani may well dislike Obama personally as well as many of his policies, but his attack on the President’s patriotism was unconscionable.
Political dirt throwing is part of the American political campaign tradition since the 19th Century. F.D.R. was attacked personally and verbally–and he dished it back as well–and candidate Richard Nixon’s dog was even attacked during the 1952 campaign. Last week’s behavior by Giuliani was so appalling even to members of his own Republican Party that they—and he—have spent the better part of the past week trying to explain and/or distance themselves from this ugliness. As a result, except for extremist groups, Giuliani has now probably marginalized himself politically in the country.