April 7, 2017

"The long, strange and totally nasty history of Donald Trump and Rand Paul."

After Trump and Rand Paul played golf last Sunday, Chris Cillizza, writing at CNN, produced a Buzzfeedish list of 7 items — "ranked in order of my favorites."

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.]...

"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."
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.

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....

"[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."
"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.

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.

44 comments:

Laslo Spatula said...

CNN will soon start using emojis to make more clear how we should think about things.

I am Laslo.



AReasonableMan said...

When the lawless imperial President Obama wanted to bomb Syria he asked for congress's permission, which was denied, and he then backed down. What does this make Trump?

Meet the new boss, even worse than the old boss.

David said...

"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...."

He assumed? Bullshit. If he wanted to know that answer he could have asked the specific question. He did not want to hear the answer.

traditionalguy said...

Just lay it on the line Rand. Without an Order of Supervision from a District Court Judge in Hawaii, there are no Presidential Powers.

Funny thing is watching the CNN and MSNBC gaggles kinda say that Trump is right...OMG... Trump is right.

David said...

"When the lawless imperial President Obama wanted to bomb Syria he asked for congress's permission, which was denied, and he then backed down. What does this make Trump?"

Less of an undecided wimp. So far.

traditionalguy said...

Best line from all the talking heads was a quote from a General that, "when ever a mapped out plan did not match the terrain, a good General follows the terrain."

DJT quickly followed the terrain perfectly. And the entire world watched him do it. Selah

Rick said...

"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?

Uh, what? She's the UN Ambassador not the Secretary of State.

Fernandinande said...

orange-faced windbag

"As the proudly mixed-race country grapples with its legacy of slavery, affirmative-action race tribunals are measuring skull shape and nose width to determine who counts as disadvantaged."

I'm guessing that "orange face" would have the disadvantage of being officially advantaged, and that the "brown-faced windbag" would have the advantage of being officially disadvantaged.

David Begley said...

I heard Senator Paul in Iowa. IMO, he is a nasty piece of work. He recited a story about a guy who got nailed under RICO for an EPA violation. His story wasn't correct and had been discredited a long time ago, but he continued to use it.

He just attaches himself to an abstract issue (e.g. audit the Fed) and showboats it. He is a manipulator. Just like his Dad. Expect him to do silver commercials soon.

traditionalguy said...

After this week, the Priebus Problem will probably be terminated.The last thing the Commander-in Chief needs during a difficult time where he must make the hard to defend decisions, is the expectation that Reince and his BFF, Ryan, are always lurking about hoping to sink his ship to please their Koch Brothers master.

Big Mike said...

Rand Paul demonstrates why he was not the right man for the presidency. Many very smart people really love his economic policies, but no important politician has been as extreme on isolationism since December 1941.

Chuck said...

As usual, Althouse treats actors in Washington and on the national scene as if they ought to always use careful and precise language, in the interest of having clear legal import. (I like that Althouse so very much!)

And when it comes to Trump being held to the same standard... well, then the sloppy looseness and the sheer idiocy are all just part of some curious Trump genius for messaging and selling himself. (That Althouse seems dishonest; that there is another unspoken agenda at work.)

Laslo Spatula said...

(I like that Althouse so very much!) Good Girl! Pat on head.

(That Althouse seems dishonest; that there is another unspoken agenda at work.) Daddy chastises little girl. Bad Girl!

I hate when people give the Patriarchy a Bad Name.

I am Laslo.

Robert Cook said...

"Rand Paul demonstrates why he was not the right man for the presidency. Many very smart people really love his economic policies, but no important politician has been as extreme on isolationism since December 1941."

Which proves how badly we need someone with Rand's views on U.S. military aggression around the world (not necessarily Rand himself, for some of his other views) in the White House, and others with those views in Congress!

Jess said...

The thought of the cost of 50 cruise missiles is the first thing that came to my mind. That's and enormous cost to taxpayers. Than again, only six were reported killed, so the sheer volume of firepower, and low loss of life, is a strong deterrent to those thinking they can run, or hide.

If Congress wanted Trump out of Syria, they should have legislated their wish, but it's apparent that's what they want, since they allowed Obama to meddle in Syria.

As far as the CNN debacle, there is no integrity, every day brings less audience, and more consider the news as false as the Onion. Those involved are obviously political hacks for the Democratic Party, and their hiding behind the label of "journalist" is ludicrous.

Robert Cook said...

"Funny thing is watching the CNN and MSNBC gaggles kinda say that Trump is right...OMG... Trump is right."

Because CNN and MSNBC say so? Hahaha!

MikeR said...

IMHO this seems about right. A secret surprise attack can't really be checked with Congress before. If it's more than a one-off - and I very much hope it isn't - he needs to go to Congress.

rehajm said...

This is where ARM would like to point out the major panic in financial markets Trump has caused.

Mike said...

AReasonableMan said...
When the lawless imperial President Obama targeted Gaddafi for assassination he [never] asked for congress's [or the UN’s] permission and he then armed Al Queda-linked rebels who dragged Gaddafi through the streets and impaled him on a stick, causing chaos and destruction across the middle east, leading to the Syrian civil war and the refugee crisis which persists to this day.


There. FIFY.

Mike said...

Jess said...
The thought of the cost of 50 cruise missiles is the first thing that came to my mind. That's and enormous cost to taxpayers.


Negligible cost to current taxpayers. We have tons of these on hand, known as a "sunk cost" because they were paid for long ago. It's good to turn over inventory now and then. I'm impressed by the Navy targeting officers who made sure that all 59 missiles hit their coordinates within a 5-minute time span, with only one day to work out the logistics. Nice work!

khesanh0802 said...

It appears that Rand Paul is one of those cranks that appear in politics on both sides and is somehow able to survive because a sufficient number in is home state fall for his BS. We've had a lot of those over the years. Noisy, but ineffective.

Ann Althouse said...

"As usual, Althouse treats actors in Washington and on the national scene as if they ought to always use careful and precise language, in the interest of having clear legal import."

Wrong.

Inga said...

When the lawless imperial President Obama wanted to bomb Syria he asked for congress's permission, which was denied, and he then backed down. What does this make Trump?

Meet the new boss, even worse than the old boss."

Yes and the new boss doesn't think he needs to ask the Congress for anything, he's probably afraid they'll say yes and then he'll have to follow through on his "many lines" he drew. One strike on an airport after warning everyone the missles were coming, doesn't really amount to more than a show. How was this nerve gas attack worse than the one that occurred under Obama, when Trump made one tweet after another telling Obama not meddle in Syria?

As for Rand Paul, wasn't Paul just recently cuddling up to Trump? Did he think he could be Trump's new Svengali in case Bannon gets booted?

MayBee said...

I like Rand Paul. He's an important voice.

MayBee said...

When the lawless imperial President Obama wanted to bomb Syria he asked for congress's permission, which was denied, and he then backed down

You both know that's not exactly what happened. Obama said, and as it is noted in Althouse's very post, Obama said he had the authority to strike Syria without Congress.

He made the line in the sand, and was sorry. The UK balked at supporting him. Obama then went on to make a series of announcements that we would do something really devastating, but limited, but just enough to teach a lesson, but not sustained. He didn't want to do it. He dragged his feet. THEN he decided to go to Congress because he knew he had been so non specific and foot-draggy he wouldn't get permission. Even though he said he didn't need it, he needed to be able to say Congress wouldn't let him do it.

Note that he did NOT ask for Congress to approve his bombing Libya. Note that he did NOT ask for Congress to put boots on the ground in Syria.

Livermoron said...

ARM wrote:
When the lawless imperial President Obama wanted to bomb Syria he asked for congress's permission, which was denied, and he then backed down. What does this make Trump?

Meet the new boss, even worse than the old boss
-----------------------------------------------------

Obama maintained all along that he did not need congressional approval to attack Syria (just like his actions in Libya). He just went to Congress so that they could make his decision for him and give him plausible deniability. Strong leadership, indeed.

Inga said...

"Note that he did NOT ask for Congress to approve his bombing Libya. Note that he did NOT ask for Congress to put boots on the ground in Syria."

"Meet the new boss, even worse than the old boss."

You know that there are still boots on the ground in Syria, right? It appears that's OK with Trump.

MayBee said...

And let me point out that as recently as January, Obama officials were still pretending they had gotten Syria to purge their chemical weapons.

Until this attack this week, the Obama people were *still* calling that a success. Politifact just yesterday had to re-do it's fact check on it.
I wouldn't point to anything Obama did wrt Syria as any kind of model or success. He was weak, and he was duped.

MayBee said...

You know that there are still boots on the ground in Syria, right? It appears that's OK with Trump.

What does that have to do with pretending Obama was held back by Congressional approval when it came to Syria?

Livermoron said...

Boots on the ground were ordered in by Obama.

Remember, stop at one bottle Inga.

Inga said...

This is on Trump's watch.

"WASHINGTON — The United States is sending an additional 400 troops to Syria to help prepare for the looming fight for Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate, American officials said on Thursday."

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/09/world/middleeast/us-troops-syria.html?_r=0

MayBee said...

Inga- again I ask, what does that have to do with pretending Obama was hampered by Congress when it came to his action or inaction in Syria?

Livermoron said...

Inga drunkenly typed: The United States is sending an additional 400 troops to Syria

Gee, Inga, what could they mean by 'additional'? An intelligent person would figure out that there must've been other troops already there.
It is clear why you couldn't make that assessment.

Livermoron said...

Because I am a sweetheart I am going to help Inga out... try a search on 'Obama sends troops to Syria' and see what you get. Don't worry, I know that looks like a lot of work to you, but if you just type in 'Obama sends troops' you will get auto-complete for the rest of the statement.
And please noticed the multiple times and multiple dates he sent additional troops to Syria.

Do you even try to be honest or are you content wallow in your ignorance and hatred?
And Val-U-Rite. Can't forget that.

No need to say thank you , Inga.
Es war meine Freude.

Inga said...

Again, this the Trump presidency. The buck stops at his desk.

Livermoron said...

Inga Inga Inga.
You have chosen the path of ignorance and hatred.
You tell me that the troops are in Syria because of Trump...and then you have your ass handed to you.

Thank God we have a president who is fully aware of his duties and responsibilities.
I hope that I am not keeping you from writing Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer to complain about this action and their support of it.

Did you ever look up the meaning of additional?

MayBee said...

Again, this the Trump presidency. The buck stops at his desk.

Who is saying otherwise?
*You* are the one who tried to say Obama didn't bomb Syria because Congress didn't give him permission. *You* and *ARM* are the ones saying that. But it isn't true, as you keep pointing out yourself- Obama did plenty of military action without the permission of congress.

Saying the buck stops with Trump has nothing to do with that.

William Chadwick said...

Let's cut to the bottom line: Rand Paul has been about as consistently pro-freedom as any pol I can think of. That would make both Donald ("Kelo") Trump and CNN unfavorably disposed toward him.

David said...

"Jess said...
The thought of the cost of 50 cruise missiles is the first thing that came to my mind. That's and enormous cost to taxpayers."

What is the cost of 500,000 refugees, tens of thousands of deaths, anarchy, starvation and murder? You think that does not filter back to American taxpayers?

Inga said...

"Who is saying otherwise?"

The LMororn.

Bill Peschel said...

ARM wrote: "When the lawless imperial President Obama wanted to bomb Syria he asked for congress's permission, which was denied, and he then backed down."

Wikipedia says: On 10 September 2013, military intervention was averted when the Syrian government accepted a US–Russian negotiated deal to turn over "every single bit" of its chemical weapons stockpiles for destruction and declared its intention to join the Chemical Weapons Convention.[50][51] The bill never received a floor vote.

ARM, where did you get "denied" from?

I should note also these contradictions from Wiki: Over 70% of respondents did not believe that a military strike would achieve US goals, and a similar percentage do not believe it is in the United States' national interest to intervene.[46] ... The poll also indicated that President Obama's approval rating on foreign policy was at its lowest point ever and that only 3 in 10 approved of how he is handling Syria.

This indicates that Obama's credibility was at such a low ebb that people didn't think he would follow through on anything. And they were right.

MayBee said...

"Who is saying otherwise?"

The LMororn.


Nope

Birches said...

I have no problem with what Rand said and what Trump did. We need a check on all leaders with the power to make war or bomb other nations.

Inga said...

Yep.