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May 21, 2010

Rand Paul Calls Obama's Criticism of BP "Really Un-American"

Le sigh.

Rand Paul's not done saying silly things yet. On ABC's Good Morning America he ran full tilt into an amateur mistake:

"What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP.' I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business," he said. "I've heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it's part of this sort of blame game society in the sense that it's always got to be someone's fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen."

Give the man a prize. He just said the magic words that will guarantee he stays in the news cycle for at least another 24 hours. Do I agree with the President's attack on BP? Of course not. He's wrong. But that doesn't make his political point-scoring "un-American."

One of the core American freedoms, something not enjoyed even in other parts of "Western Civilization", is the right to score political points by lambasting others. As the Ninth Circuit put it yesterday (PDF), "The right to provoke, offend and shock lies at the core of the First Amendment."

The President's attack on BP is both offensive and based on a faulty premise. But it's not un-American. And after spending the past year or more decrying the same Democratic smear against the Tea Parties, Rand should have known better.

What an amateur. As Drew put it yesterday: the MFM will make Paul the new face of the Republican Party for at least the next six months or so. Oops.

Insta-Update: Several commenters say it is un-American if Obama "puts his boot heel on the throat of BP" and so Rand is right.

Except that Rand didn't say that. He specifically called the President's criticism of business—his words—un-American. That's just plain wrong. It has the added something of being awfully bad politics, so there's that too.

Criticizing business has a centuries-long history in the United States and at the moment a plurality of Americans seem to agree with the President. I think Obama's wrong about this (and those Americans who agree with him too), but that doesn't mean he or they are un-American for criticizing BP.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 09:37 AM

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