Rand Paul is not the first person that comes to mind when you consider the most ardent defenders of President Trump. However, when it’s John McCain trying to classify the President as a “dictator,” even Rand has to come to Trump’s defense.
The junior Senator from Kentucky is one of a small number of Republicans who have taken a wise approach to the Trump administration. While he and the President have some strong disagreements, civil asset seizure being one of them, Paul is not afraid to stand with the President where he is right (tax policy, deregulation, ending insane foreign wars, etc.).
Another area where he seems willing to defend the President is in the treatment of the press.
Last week, the President classified the media as the enemy of the American people from his infamous Twitter account:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017
Now, while I would say such a classification was in poor form, some of the reactions to the President’s posting are just ridiculous, McCain’s being one.
On Meet the Press, McCain conveyed that such treatment is how dictatorships are started.
Sen. John McCain blasts Trump's media attacks to NBC: "That's how dictators get started." pic.twitter.com/nxVae0WhOQ
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 18, 2017
“They get started by suppressing a free press. In other words, a consolidation of power, when you look at history, the first thing the dictators do is shut down the press. I’m not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.”
Well, well, well, the unapologetic advocate of infinite war is saying that we need to learn the lessons of history. Does that apply to war as well?
Rand had some thoughts on that. On ABC’s This Week, he absolutely ripped into McCain:
The thing is, I don’t agree with his analysis and applying that to the president. I haven’t seen any legislation coming forward that wants to limit the press. I see President Trump expressing his opinion, rather forceful, in his own distinct way, but I see no evidence that anybody’s putting forward any kind of legislation to limit the press.
This is colored by John MCain’s disagreement with President Trump. It all is. Everything that he says about the president is colored by his own personal dispute he’s got running with President Trump. And it should be taken with a grain of salt because John McCain’s the guy that’s advocated for war everywhere, he would bankrupt the nation, and actually, we’re very luck John McCain’s not in charge because I think we’d be in perpetual war.”
It really is a good thing that McCain is not the man in the White House. McCain has been an unapologetic advocate of perpetual warfare everywhere across the planet. Despite the massive failures of foreign entanglements and botched nation-building, he is still an advocate of such a foreign policy.
Who’s not learning the lessons of history?
Here is the full interview (the discussion of the media begins at 5:45):
Anyways, while Trump’s criticisms of the courts, and head-on attacks on the media are in poor taste, it is not something that is anywhere close to violating the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of press. There is nothing in the First Amendment that states the President cannot criticize the judiciary, or give the cold shoulder to the media, or even forcefully express his opinion of what he thinks of them.
But, as Paul mentioned, what is a sign of an impending dictatorship is where legislation is introduced to limit freedom of the press. And if the President tries to get such legislation passed, then Paul will (as he, and everyone should) oppose such a measure.
But the idea that Trump’s treatment of the media is the start of a dictatorships? No, not even close.
You’re probably thinking of the Obama administration…