At this point, it is obvious that President Trump is focused on doing things that favor Russia. As Josh Marshall has said, it doesn’t matter WHY this is, whether because of blackmail, or financial gain, or psychological/emotional need. What matters is naming it, containing the damage, and eventually trying to repair the damage.
But, some are asking, what about Rand Paul and Thomas Massie?
Both Massie and Paul have made fun of the furor over the Helsinki Debacle. Both have blamed it on “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” And both have said that we should be glad that Trump is building a healthier relationship with Russia and Putin.
As a result, there have been some that ask, Are Thomas Massie and Rand Paul compromised in some way?
My answer, for now, is No. And here’s why.
Both of them are Tea-Party Libertarians, who favor less government pretty much everywhere, including in our foreign policy. Massie has consistently criticized our continued involvement in Afghanistan, and has noted more than once that “dialog is good.” His comments about Trump in Helsinki are just more of this pattern. I think he’s wrong about the Russia threat, but at least he’s consistent.
Paul is more difficult.
He has made it plain that he believes we should re-think our alliances, putting America’s interests ahead of the rest of the world. This means building a stronger relationship with Russia, and rethinking NATO. So far, not too far from other right-wing electeds and pundits.
But then, there’s the voting.
- Paul was one of only two Senators voting against a resolution in support of NATO.
- He also was the only Senator to vote against allowing Montenegro to join NATO (something Russia also opposes).
- He blocked a resolution voicing support for the intelligence community in its assessment of the Russia involvement in our election.
- And, he voted against sanctions on Russia – twice.
There is no doubt that Rand Paul is standing with Trump in support of what Russia wants. At this point, though, I think it is still a mark of Paul’s Libertarian streak, and his determination to be seen as a supporter of Trump. (Considering what Paul called Trump during the Republican primaries, and vice versa, the fact that they are buds is strange. But, that’s Republican politics these days.)
I disagree with Massie on many things, but I don’t think he is doing anything more than following his own lights on the Trump/Russia debacle. Rand Paul’s actions are certainly Russia-friendly, but at this point I think we chalk it up to some combination of philosophy and political calculation.
However, if something else is revealed or new evidence emerges, as continues to happen in this long-form national trauma, then it will be time to revisit this.