John McCain Inexcusably Slanders Rand Paul By Saying Paul Works For Vladimir Putin [Opinion]

John McCain has decided to up the ante on the McCarthy-style, anti-Russia rhetoric that is currently polluting political discourse in the United States. During a speech on Wednesday in support of a bill to allow Montenegro to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), McCain specifically noted that Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky objects to the measure to expand the scope of NATO, according to The Daily Beast. McCain went as far as to accuse Paul of working for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“You are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin… trying to dismember this small country which has already been the subject of an attempted coup,” McCain said, adding that Paul or anyone else who would try to stand in the way of Montenegro’s bid to join NATO are guilty of “carrying out the desires and ambitions of Vladimir Putin and I do not say that lightly.”

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Joseph McCarthy was a senator who accused his political enemies of working for Russia, giving rise to the term McCarthyism. Until recently, the time of McCarthyism was considered a shameful era of American politics, but people like John McCain seem intent on bringing it back. [Image by Staff/Getty Images]

This completely disregards what many Americans may see as a valid argument for not allowing yet another country to join NATO. As the NATO nation that spends the most money on the defense of NATO member countries, there are legitimate budgetary concerns that people like Rand Paul have regarding the idea that we should just jump at the opportunity to welcome yet another small country with a meager military into the fold.

“Currently, the United States has troops in dozens of countries and is actively fighting in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen (with the occasional drone strike in Pakistan),” Rand Paul told the Daily Beast.

“In addition, the United States is pledged to defend 28 countries in NATO. It is unwise to expand the monetary and military obligations of the United States given the burden of our $20 trillion debt.”

John McCain has chosen to dismiss these concerns by engaging in what can only reasonably be called slander against Senator Rand Paul. Rand Paul is a libertarian Republican who has a consistent record of opposing what he views as unnecessary United States military intervention and increasing spending in military matters that do not relate to explicit defense of the United States. McCain even went as far as to explicitly make some bold, McCarthyist accusations against Rand Paul.

“So I repeat again, the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin,” McCain said in front of the Senate.

If the United States is going to continue to support the 28 NATO member nations militarily, the American people deserve a healthy dialogue about where federal funds are being spent in that regard. Rand Paul should be commended for taking what is an unpopular political stance amongst his colleagues. For Senator McCain to level such charges is nothing short of a disgrace. It goes against the ideas of free speech and fair representation that the United States was allegedly founded upon.

Rand Paul, disgusted with the unfounded accusation leveled by his colleague from Arizona, walked out during McCain’s speech. McCain became visibly angry at Paul’s walk-out.

“I note the senator from Kentucky leaving the floor without justification or any rationale for the action he has just taken,” McCain said, clearly upset.

“That is really remarkable, that a senator blocking a treaty that is supported by the overwhelming number—perhaps 98, at least, of his colleagues—would come to the floor and object and walk away.”

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Putin is on a two-day official visit to Japan. (Photo by Ma Ping - Pool/Getty Images)

According to the New York Times, there is a belief among the intelligence community that Russia is involved in a possible coup in Montenegro. This belief is likely the catalyst for McCain’s strong views on the subject.

Whether one agrees with Rand Paul or John McCain, the American people deserve better than for one senator standing by his conscience to be accused by another senator of working for Vladimir Putin, despite there being absolutely no real evidence for that charge. John McCain should issue an apology to Rand Paul immediately for this gross reflection of the disgraceful “McCarthysism” of the late 1940s and early 1950s, where Senator Joseph McCarthy used similarly slanderous tactics to delegitimize the views of his political adversaries.

[Featured Image by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images]