If you haven’t spent your career in the political or media establishment, you may not be aware of the strong temptation to jump on the bandwagon and join all your colleagues when they have rallied to a conclusion. But it is real, and it is there, and it has a mighty appeal. Indeed, the bus is filled to capacity — standing room only — as it rolls down Capitol Hill this week, excoriating President Trump in his first official meeting with Vladimir Putin.
But there is one person who refused to be lured onto this wagon train of criticism. The Senator from the great state of Kentucky, Rand Paul. With an ability to see the forest and the trees, Paul stood his ground and said that the meeting of the two superpower leaders was a step in the right direction. The president immediately recognized the Senator’s viewpoint and tweeted, “Thank you, Rand Paul, you really get it!”
Paul Repudiates Tsunami of Criticism
If you listen to one of Trump’s critics, you’ve heard them all: In the game of superpower Alpha Males, it’s Putin one – Trump zero. Putin is the great mastermind while Trump shriveled on the vine, they opine. Trump is “disgusting” and has “disgraced” America, they posit in unison.
Shortly after the president’s press conference, Senator Paul was interviewed by Politico and said, “It’s gotten so ridiculous that someone has to stand up and say we should try to engage even our adversaries and open up our lines of communication.” A long-standing non-interventionist and foe of the Neo-Cons, Senator Paul comprehends that what the president is trying to do is to “thaw the relations between our countries.” Is this such a horrific aspiration?
First, the left screamed that Trump was going to start World War III, and now they’re crawling all over him because he’s playing Mr. Nice Guy. What gives?
Paul gives us a clue. What many reasonable people are thinking is precisely what he said: “They [the critics] are motivated by their persistent and consistent dislike of the president.” So, what we have here is Trump Derangement Syndrome on steroids. Is there anybody out there looking at the big picture other than Rand Paul?
No one questions that Vladimir Putin is a vile character. We know this. And what good can come from poking the bear (pun intended)? Nothing, nada. The president understands this. Paul gets it. But the naysayers on The Hill and their news buddies — both left and right — don’t seem to care.
And that’s unfortunate because there are larger things at stake than an election that is in the rear-view mirror. There is North Korea, the Ukraine, and Syria, for instance. All these situations must be managed cautiously and carefully by the U.S. for the greater good. Do we really want to go to the mat because the Democratic National Committee server was hacked and because John Podesta was stupid enough to make his password “password” and decided to play let’s go phish?
Donald Trump is a big boy. He can handle the criticism. For sure, people like Paul stepping up offers a modicum of succor. But every now and then we must realize that pack journalism and political critics from both sides of the aisle are a dime a dozen.
As a people, we must separate the short-term good feeling of pounding Putin about the 2016 election for the long-term truth that we must move forward and do what we can to establish a working relationship with Russia and its most unappealing leader.
In the celebrated final scene of A Few Good Men (ironically a Rob Reiner film), Jack Nicholson fumes: “You can’t handle the truth!” Let’s hope, for the sake of a peaceful future with a dangerous adversary, that isn’t true. And ultimately, we should pray that we can recognize and handle the larger truths in this most delicate of foreign relations.