No, Giuliani Didn’t Say Obama Should Be Like Bill Cosby, Or Blame Him For All Black Crime

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

It’s painfully obvious that Jonathan Chait didn’t actually listen to Rudy Giuliani’s interview with AM 970 radio host John Gambling on Thursday, before putting together a sloppy race-baiting attack on the former New York City mayor for New York magazine.

Chait drew all the pull quotes for his article form a very selective New York Daily News article on the interview, and even swiped the newspaper’s dishonest headline assertion that “Rudy Giuliani Says Obama Should Be More Like Bill Cosby, Blames Brooklyn McDonald’s Fight and Ferguson Cop  Shootings On President.” (Chait, or his editors, shaved that down to “Giuliani Says Obama Should Be More Like Bill Cosby.”)

No, Giuliani did not say that Barack Obama should be like Bill Cosby, an inference clearly intended to make Giuliani look like a clueless dolt who doesn’t understand the kind of trouble Cosby is in these days. If you actually listen to the entire 15-minute interview, as Chait clearly didn’t bother to do – and, more importantly, doesn’t want his readers to do – Giuliani said he wished Obama would have taken his unique opportunity as the first black president to speak out against black victim mythology and praise the importance of family, as Bill Cosby did to great effect, once upon a time.

Nothing about Cosby’s current travails erases the history of what he said in the Eighties and Nineties, or how it was received. Given the liberal affinity for airbrushing history, it’s not surprising to watch them pretend they have the long-term memory capacity of field mice. They think the past is a story written, and re-written, by those who have political and cultural power today. They’ve spent all week pretending to forget about all the times Democrats actively sabotaged the foreign policy of Republican presidents. They’re probably a little dazed from the intensity of that effort.

Giuliani specifically mentioned the dichotomy between Cosby’s previous praise of the family and the current controversy over his behavior. Also, to debunk another pile of false words Chait labors to stuff into Giuliani’s mouth, Giuliani did not blame Barack Obama for all black crime, or claim that crime was “exploding” because of Obama.

He said the Justice Department’s report critical of the Ferguson police department was an entirely predictable source of unrest, and criticized the Administration for not doing more to explain why so many officials, politicians, and media got the Michael Brown story wrong. He spoke about the importance of setting the “tone” of government and society at the very top – a point liberals were certainly eager to make when they were trying to nail New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for those George Washington Bridge closings.

Giuliani did say there is an “enormous amount of crime,” but that can be true even if the crime rate is declining three or four percent per year nationwide. It is not irrational to say that the rate of offenses is decreasing, but it’s still much too high, and society could do better with the right leadership. Ask the residents of inner-city Chicago if they think they’re living in a pastoral Shangri-La where violent crime is but a distant memory.

The issue of what Obama could be doing better was actually raised by the radio host, John Gambling, although it’s obviously a topic Giuliani wanted to discuss. Here is the passage in which Giuliani mentions Bill Cosby, in its entirety, not the edited snippets and out-of-context word jumbles preferred by smear artists:

John, I have told people in this Administration, who I am close to – and there aren’t many of them – I said to them, this President… I said exactly what you’re saying, in fact I had this conversation about two months ago with one of them. I said this President has a chance to leave a legacy that no other President will have a chance to leave, until we get another African-American president – and who knows when that’s gonna be, right?

And that is, he could explain that yes, there are bad police, yes there are police that act improperly, and yes there are more contacts between the police and blacks, and we’re doing everything we can… I did, and Bloomberg did, and Bratton did, and Safer, and Kerik, and everybody… Remember “Courtesy, Professionalism, and Respect?” Howard Safer put that in. Treat them better, treat them the right way, treat them fairly.

But here’s the big story, John. That’s the footnote. The big story is the enormous amount of crime. That’s the big story. That is 99 percent, the other is one percent. 70 percent of the homicides in New York City are committed by African-Americans.

There are many,  many extremely understandable reasons for it historically and environmentally, and it is not because blacks are better than whites, or whites are better than blacks. It has a lot to do with sociological facts that we all know, but those are the facts, and if an African-American president stood up and said… I hate to mention it, because of what happened afterwards… the kinds of stuff that Bill Cosby used to say, the kinds of stuff that Imam Pasha says at the Malcolm X mosque… this is our responsibility.

If there were less crime… I remember Imam Pasha saying, if there was less crime in our community, there would be less police in our community, it’s as simple as that. He looked at his congregation, half made up of ex-convicts, and said, “You don’t like having the police around, right?” And they said yes. And he said, “Here’s how to stop it: cut down the number of shootings, cut down the number of robberies, cut down on the number of rapes…

Those police officers who got shot last night – why were they there?  [He’s talking about the police officers who were shot in Ferguson, Missouri; Gambling interjects to note the police were there to monitor a demonstration threatening the police department.] They were there also to protect stores, many of whom were owned by African-Americans. Some of them have been destroyed two times now…

Later in the segment, Giuliani spoke at length about the importance of emphasizing intact families as the solution to social ills, in a passage Chait dishonestly represents as just a few patronizing nice words about Barack Obama thrown in because Giuliani supposedly knows he’s in trouble for questioning Obama’s love of country previously. In fact, the compliments about Obama being a good family man lead directly into the point Giuliani makes about what the President should be saying to the black community. He actually described this as a “Nixon-goes-to-China” moment, i.e. a move Obama is uniquely suited to make by virtue of who he is, because he wouldn’t be dismissed as some stodgy white politician who doesn’t understand black life:

This guy has credentials as an African-America. We know he loves his background, respects his background, cares about his background. We know that he’s a good man.

I disagree with Barack Obama on almost everything, but I think Barack Obama’s a good family man, and he’s a good man. If he stands up and he says, “You see my family – my two daughters, my wife, the way we’re together, et cetera – this is the model. This is the model we need, and this is what we’ve got to build toward. And we’ve got to figure out a way to build toward that.

Of course we’re going to help single moms, and single parent families – of course we’re going to do that. And a lot of kids come out of single-parent families, and they’re fine. But the model has gotta be: mom, dad, kids, mom and dad helping with the homework, mom and dad involved in school… and particularly to talk to African-American men about the large incidents of crime.

According to Giuliani, the people he knows inside the Obama Administration have talked to the President about delivering such a message, but they have been disappointed by his lack of interest.

It’s too cute by half for Giuliani’s critics to pretend the context of these remarks isn’t Obama, his Administration, and the Democrat Party coddling the Ferguson mob and their false “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” mythology. Chait waves away all of Obama’s actions, all the times he’s indulged racial and anti-police paranoia – remember the President musing that his imaginary son would look like Trayvon Martin? – by insisting the President says complimentary things about the police force in general during his speeches. The Left’s enduring faith in the magical power of Obama speeches remains a source of wonderment, even as his audiences grow smaller, and more prone to yawning and checking their watches.

It’s easy to see why asserting that a few lines from Obama’s teleprompter cancel out the rest of his actions, and omissions of action, by listening to Giuliani lay out what the President should be doing: stamping out the false narrative surrounding Michael Brown’s death, firmly endorsing his Justice Department’s conclusion that the officer involved did nothing wrong, speaking out against the dangerous mythology that the primary threat to the safety of young black men is trigger-happy cops and White Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteers…

What Giuliani is calling for is a direct confrontation with the racial grievance industry, which is very different from President Obama tossing off a speech here and there where he says intact families are nice.

But, again, liberals expect us to have zero long-term memory capacity. We’re supposed to pretend we didn’t notice Eric Holder’s Justice Department straining mightily to nail the Ferguson cop, or George Zimmerman, with something, anything. We are meant to ignore all those efforts to placate angry mobs by giving them the false impression federal charges would impose “social justice” through civil-rights charges. We’re not supposed to notice, as Giuliani pointed out, that racial arsonist Al Sharpton has been a constant White House presence, sending a message neither side of the law-and-order debate can possibly miss.

We’re not supposed to talk about the social deterioration caused by the Left’s prized Great Society welfare state, or remember what black families were like before Democrat Party ideology got hold of them. We’re not supposed to note that the welfare state is an insanely expensive failure according to the metrics laid down by the people who created it. We’re supposed to think crime is caused by guns, and the “solution” is more gun control. (Liberals are the ones most likely to hyperventilate about crime supposedly getting worse when it isn’t, while conservative gun-rights advocates are more likely to cite the accurate statistics.) We’re not meant to see marriage and family as anything special. Individual responsibility and independent families are anathema to collectivist politics.

Out-of-context snippets breed false headlines that become the story, reflected through websites that quote second-hand sources reflecting each other like a gallery of mirrors. Try doing a Google search on Giuliani’s remarks, and note how many of the stories lead back to the New York Daily News’ selective edit of the interview – which contains only three intact sentences from a 15-minute interview – rather than a complete clip or full transcript of his remarks.

“What do you call holding Barack Obama responsible for every crime committed by a black person anywhere?” Chait asks in the last line of his piece. I call it a dishonest left-wing writer having an argument with the little demons running around in his fevered imagination, since Rudy Giuliani said nothing even remotely close to that.