CNN contributor Paul Begala is not wrong when he says there is a “moral rot” in the White House.
The Trump administration does indeed have a very easy relationship with honesty and decency.
But Begala, who served as adviser to the original gangster of debauched and dishonest commanders in chief, is the last person who should be lecturing anyone on moral decay in the executive branch.
Trump "is an extravagant, extraordinary liar who's brought this moral rot to the American presidency,” Begala said Wednesday as he reacted to Sen. Jeff Flake’s, R-Ariz., speech criticizing the Trump administration.
“[A] member of his own party calling [the president] out … is historically significant,” he added.
On second thought — you know what?
Having served in the Clinton administration, Begala is uniquely positioned to comment on “moral rot” in the White House (personal experience goes a long way, you know?). Perhaps he knows it when he sees it.
Though Begala can be excused for this obvious self-own, he really can't be excused for what he said next.
For reference, Flake's address criticized Trump specifically for his many, many, many anti-media rants, including the time the president called certain news outlets the “enemy of the people.”
Flake said at one point this morning: “Mr. President, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies.”
He added, “It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.”
Here comes Begala with the fresh hot take!
“When you compare our president, my president, to Josef Stalin to [Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte] … and [Syrian president Bashar Assad], that's extraordinary,” he said, arguing that it’s a fair comparison.
“This was a speech about attacking a press, and this president attacks the press. I would extend that because he doesn't only attack the press. He calls federal judges ‘so-called judges’ and attacks them because they are a check on his power. He said the FBI is in ‘tatters’ because they are investigating him. He said the CIA is like the ‘Gestapo,’ and he attacks the press.
“He attacks any check on power because he would like to be Duterte, Assad, Putin, Stalin. That’s his goal. He is an autocrat,” he added.
“[Trump] plainly admires these dictators, but there’s a very important difference: Stalin had around him an evil machine of communism. This president has a virtuous machine of democracy, but that's the test. This will be the test of the Trump era,” he said.
Yes, indeed. The only difference between Trump and Stalin, who is responsible for the deaths of millions, is that Trump has the New York Times and the CIA to keep him in check.
That's the stuff. That's analysis we all love and adore.
Full disclosure: This author is a paid contributor with CNN/HLN.