Four were things Trump has said about Paul:
"I never attacked him on his look and believe me there's plenty of subject matter there." [Said Trump in the 2d primary debate.]...Interspersed with those quotes were 3 facial expressions Trump directed at Paul. These are presented as GIFs, making the list hard to look at and heightening the cheesy Buzzfeedy effect of doing a list in the first place.
"Truly weird Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain. He was terrible at DEBATE!"
"First of all, Rand Paul shouldn't even be on this stage. He's number 11 and he's at one percent in the polls."
"Recently, Rand Paul called me and asked me to play golf. I easily beat him on the golf course and will even more easily beat him now, in the world in [sic] politics."
Nothing Rand Paul has said is on Cillizza's list of favorites, even though nothing forced Cillizza to restrict his list to 7 things, and he does end the piece with a quote from Paul which he says "may" be the "best" of all the Trump vs. Paul putdowns:
"Donald Trump is a delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag.... A speck of dirt is way more qualified to be president."That was said on Comedy Central, and I believe it was scripted. Watch Rand Paul's eyes in the video:
Anyway, that Cillizza list — that Cillista — went up on Monday, and last night Trump carried his military strike on Syria. Just before that happened, Rand Paul was on the radio resisting what was about to come:
"The first thing we ought to do is probably obey the Constitution.... When Nikki Haley came before my committee and I voted for her, I asked her that question. 'Will you try to take us to war? Will you advocate for war without constitutional or congressional authority?' And she said no. So I assumed what she means by this is that, the President, if he decides to do something in Syria, he would come to Congress and ask for a declaration of war. Short of Congress voting on it, I'm opposed to illegal and unconstitutional wars...."There's some argument" is a useful phrase for making an argument without having to take responsibility for it. Also useful is "we ought to... obey the Constitution." Who can object to that? The serious work is at a different level — what does the Constitution require? — and Rand Paul is not dealing with that.
"[G]oing to war we have to decide, will it be better or worse? Will we improve our national security? Are we threatened currently by Syria, and if we go to war is (Syrian President Bashar al-)Assad likely to use less chemical weapons or more? There's some argument for the more cornered and the more defeated in some ways more likely they are to use chemical weapons and actually for the less defeated they are that they're less likely to use them. The bottom line is it's horrific."
You might think he goes on to say that if Trump "decides to do something in Syria," the Constitution requires that he "come to Congress and ask for a declaration of war," but look closely and you'll see that Rand Paul does not say that. He only says that Haley's statement created an expectation that Trump would choose to come to Congress under certain circumstances, not that the President is constitutionally barred from making a military strike without a declaration of war. You might think the next sentence does say that: "Short of Congress voting on it, I'm opposed to illegal and unconstitutional wars." But those 2 clauses don't really fit together. The second clause stands on its own, and the first clause doesn't really create a condition. It just hangs there giving the impression that he's saying more than he is.
What is Rand Paul saying now that the strike has occurred. Here's the statement he put up on Facebook this morning:
"While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked. The President needs congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate. Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer and Syria will be no different."Notice what's there and what is not. He doesn't say "declaration of war" (or even use the word "war" at all). He's putting political pressure on Trump to come to Congress for an "authorization for military action," and he juxtaposes that demand for involving Congress with a reference to the Constitution without quite saying The Constitution requires congressional authorization for this military action.
It's more: The Constitution is there, requiring things, and we needn't get bogged down with figuring out the details of those requirements if Trump would choose to show respect for constitutional values by consulting with Congress. Rand Paul certainly doesn't say the military strike that just occurred is unconstitutional.
As for "The long, strange and totally nasty history of Donald Trump and Rand Paul" — the military strike makes that look like obsolete cuteness. Things are more serious now. The President must be treated seriously, not like an orange clown, and Rand Paul has a role to play, and I think he will play it in a somber and careful fashion.