Rudy Giuliani’s claim that Barack Obama does not “love America” and “wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country” has been widely criticized as disingenuous and possibly racist. Both of these things may be true. But as someone who regularly watches Barack Obama speeches as part of my job, what I think is most astounding about Giuliani’s take—and his followup claim that he’d like to see the president “give a speech where he talks about what’s good about America and doesn’t include all the criticism”—is how literally factually wrong it is. Obama talks constantly about America’s greatness and how his upbringing cultivated his love for the country; in fact, perhaps because he knew his liberalism, African father, and “funny name” (his words!) would provoke insinuations about his lack of patriotism, Obama’s pride in the United States—and the way his family origins figure into that pride—has been perhaps the most common theme of his most important speeches since he came to national prominence.
There is simply no question that, in his own telling, Barack Obama believes that the United States is an exceptional, great, splendiferous nation—the world’s most powerful force for good. And he will be happy to explain to you, at great and occasionally repetitive length, why he holds that belief, as the video above indicates. (Among his America-themed speeches, some of which we took clips from: Obama’s 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote in Boston, his March 2008 speech on race relations in Philadelphia, his 2008 nomination-acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, his election night remarks at Chicago’s Grant Park in 2008, his inaugural address in 2009, his June 2009 speech in Cairo, his 2012 State of the Union address, his 2012 Democratic National Convention speech in Charlotte, his 2012 election-night speech in Washington D.C., his 2013 inaugural, his September 2013 address to the United Nations, his December 2013 speech on economic mobility in D.C., his 2014 State of the Union, his May 2014 commencement address at West Point, and his post-election press conference in November 2014; click links for transcripts.*)
To be fair to Giuliani, I guess, most if not all of those speeches mention that America has not always been a perfect country. But no one could seriously read or watch Obama’s remarks and come away with the overall impression that he is anything but relentlessly positive about the United States. Also—and apologies if this is patronizingly obvious—America hasn’t always been a perfect country, because we live in the real world and not a fairy tale, and acknowledging as much doesn’t make you unpatriotic, it just makes you someone with a passing understanding of history.
*Update, Feb. 20, 2015: This sentence has been changed to clarify which speeches Slate’s video was drawn from.