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Bill Straub: Sen. Rand Paul cuddles up to Trumpism using the oldest, lamest excuse — everybody does it

Sen. Rand Paul appears to be joining other members of the flock in an exodus from the once-grand, old Republican Party and cuddling up to a new political sect – Trumpism.

Paul, R-Bowling Green, who at one time called the object of his devotion “a delusional narcissist’’ and compared him to Joseph Goebbels, is doing everything except wash the feet of President Donald J. Trump, aka President Extremely Stable Genius, aka President Great and Unmatched Wisdom.

Paul’s soulful embrace of Trumpism is reminiscent of the conversion of another Paul, this one St. Paul, to Christianity on the road to Damascus. Like St. Paul, who once persecuted Christ’s followers, our Paul has seen the light and become an apostle himself to a president he once disparaged.

Just what led to this wonderous transfiguration is, of course is for the angels to tell. But there certainly is no doubt Rand Paul is all in on a man he once described as an “orange-faced windbag.” And like many converts, he’s gone a little over the top.

Rand Paul

With Trump potentially facing a House impeachment resolution, this new Apostle Paul is indicating that there’s nothing wrong with a president of the United States making idle threats against the president of another nation unless he instigates an investigation into one of the orange-faced windbag’s political rivals. No problem at all.

And as further evidence of his devotion to Trumpism, our boy has revealed the name of the person who dropped a dime on this president he celebrates, giving up the identity of the man he believes told a federal inspector general that Trump was playing footsie with American foreign policy in order to feather his own, personal, political nest.


(I pause here to say I won’t be passing on the whistleblower’s name, not out of a sense of reluctance – if I were a newspaper reporter who had the name on unimpeachable authority your doggone right I would reveal it to the world. Just not saying it here because I don’t know enough to trust the information.)

Paul, much like sycophantic all-star Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, has astonishingly mutated from stern and bitter Trump foe to loyal, slobbering lap dog, defending the president beyond reason despite tons of mounting evidence against his position.

Graham has reacted by simply ignoring the situation, asserting that he doesn’t intend to pour over documents issued by the House impeachment panel or watch proceedings on television, ignoring the goings-on like a patient dismissing a particularly virulent tumor.

There used to be a price to pay for ignorance in this country. Whether that remains true in 2019 remains to be seen.

Paul, like Graham, isn’t going out of his way to keep up with the steeping political crisis, a brouhaha he might ultimately find impossible to escape should the House send the whole kit and kaboodle over to the Senate for trial. But Paul, who fancies himself a Libertarian maverick and truth-teller, is going the simpering Graham one better: It doesn’t really matter if President Extremely Stable Genius performed all the dastardly deeds of which he is accused – everybody does it, so he should proceed as he sees fit.

A recap is necessary to make any sense of this mess.

The House is currently determining whether Trump engaged in an impeachable offense regarding his dealings with Ukraine. The president earlier this year withheld congressionally-approved funds to that nation under murky circumstances. Evidence has been presented by State Department officials and other experts that Trump acted to pressure newly-elected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky into publicly calling for an investigation into Hunter Biden, son of former vice president and potential Trump 2020 rival Joe Biden, for serving on the board of Kyiv-based Burisma Holdings, a major Ukrainian natural gas producer, for which he was paid a pretty penny.

Trump maintains Biden, as vice president, called for and succeeded in ousting a Ukraine prosecutor who, it is thought, was looking into Burisma corruption, which would have tainted Biden’s son. Several news outlets have looked into that claim and found it wanting. Rather, there exists reason to believe that the funds were withheld, and the promise of a White House meeting dangled under Zelensky’s nose, to obtain Zelensky’s vow to dig further into the matter and to do so publicly.

Hence the appearance of what has been characterized as a quid pro quo, which used to be known as scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours. In return for doing him a “favor” and investigating his political rival, Biden, thus harming his ambitions, Trump would not only ship Zelensky the dough but grant him an audience in the Oval Office.

Now some may think that using one’s position as the most powerful person in the world to essentially blackmail a foreign government to launch an investigation into a domestic political rival is, well, not kosher. Consider it this way – if Trump told Zelensky he would ship him the monetary aid if he slipped him a kickback of, say, $1 million, that would be bribery and extortion.

In this instance, according to the claim, the thing of value isn’t $1 million, it’s publicly committing to investigating a political rival to ruin his chances of running for president, which is certainly worth something to a president seeking re-election. The fact that it involves a foreign government is the cherry on top of the sundae.

Trump maintains there was no quid pro quo, despite failing the old duck test (if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc.etc), using the Latin phrase like Nixon used “I am not a crook,’’ meaning unconvincingly. Regardless, to our boy Rand this is all so much piffle. During an appearance Sunday on NBC’s Meet The Press, Paul suggested the White House scrap the no quid pro quo defense and go with the everybody does it rationale.

“He didn’t have quid pro quo,’’ Paul said. “And I know that’s what the administration’s arguing. I wouldn’t make that argument. I would make the argument that every politician in Washington, other than me, virtually, is trying to manipulate Ukraine to their purposes…Biden tried it. Trump’s tried it. They’re all doing it. They are all trying to manipulate Ukraine to get some kind of investigation.”

Furthermore, others have engaged in questionable tactics without threat of impeachment. There was Biden and the prosecutor.

“He (Biden) threatened the aid, if they didn’t fire someone,” Paul said. “And supposedly, the president did, if they didn’t investigate someone. So it sounds exactly like what Joe Biden did. And if they weren’t going to impeach Joe Biden, they look like, you know, hypocrites, in a way, for going only after President Trump and having not a word to say about what Joe Biden did.”

But facts are funny things. Viktor Shokin, was ousted, with a push from Biden, not because he was investigating Bursima but because he wasn’t pursuing corruption among the country’s politicians. Officials in the administration of former President Barack Obama, as well as highly placed individuals throughout Western Europe, wanted Shokin gone.

And, frankly, at this stage, it would be a bit difficult to impeach Joe Biden since he’s no longer even in the neighborhood of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Paul also picked on that old, reliable target, former Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, who somehow lost to Trump in 2016, raising the specter of the Steele Dossier, pieced together by a former British agent, that gathered intelligence about Trump and his dealings with Russia.

Once again, kind of hard to impeach Clinton, who didn’t even have an elected or appointed position when she was seeking the presidency.

So Rand Paul has gone full Trump, and doesn’t appear to be the least bit concerned about the lies, misogyny, racism, and other trash that emanates from this administration on a daily basis.

The NKyTribune’s Washington columnist Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at williamgstraub@gmail.com.

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One Comment

  1. Judy Oetinger says:

    Always feel a ray of hope when I read your articles. Not that they will help the political process as it is a juggernaut of tangled webs, but that there is a voice of reason that conveys my thoughts publicly. I can’t get thru to Rand Paul or to Mitch McConnell. Their lines are always “busy.” My letters, answered by some lame intern in the office with a generic letter, but you..you are able to say what is real and call them on it.
    For that, I say, thank you!
    Judy Oetinger

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