Sen. John McCain’s Jan. 18 column was appalling and unbefitting someone of his stature, given that he relies wholly on his narrow, hate-filled, “never-Trump” view of the world rather than on truth. And the truth is that, unless he and the rest of Congress plan to take up a measure to repeal the First Amendment, the press is not now, nor has it ever been, in danger from anyone in this country, least of all this president.
President Trump has never issued any pseudo-order or executive directive stopping the press from freely engaging in its chosen profession. He is not Congress! He can mock them as much as they mock him, even hatefully if he so chooses. This is the point Sens. McCain and Jeff Flake and so many others miss. The actual plain-language text of the First Amendment: “CONGRESS [not the president, state governments or any individual] shall make no law…” Those are the words that they carefully choose to avoid saying when they throw around condemnation of the president, who probably understands better than any of them what “freedom of the press” is really all about. After all, the senators and most other detractors did not have their own successful prime-time reality television show. President Trump did. Given that, I suspect he knows the limits to which “you’re fired!” can be taken — and it was well within his authority to fire FBI director Jim Comey when the president lost faith in his objectivity.
The truth is those detractors would rather deny the president his right to express his opinion because it embarrasses them. Why? I can dislike someone, even despise them, if I so choose. So can President Trump. It is our true, god-given right to have and express our opinions. Nobody can take away our opinion, nor should they. If Sens. McCain and Flake are embarrassed by what President Trump says or tweets or writes, that’s their problem, not his.
The truth is Trump is not the first president to speak frankly and on street level, where the real people live and work. Harry Truman acted in the same manner. The only difference is that Truman was not the billionaire success Trump is. This is neither a criticism of either Truman or Trump. It’s just that they both made their own decisions that took them down their paths in history. The fact Truman made the decision to decimate two cities, killing hundreds of thousands of people (in the name of national security), places him in the solidly unique position of having killed the most people with one decision in the history of the world. Conversely, President Trump has not placed any person in harm’s way. He has chosen to demand enforcement of duly enacted laws. Apparently Flake and McCain would rather these laws not be enforced, even though such non-enforcement places each of us at risk and in grave danger.
It is easier to condemn someone who disagrees with Sens. Flake and McCain than to try and understand that person and his reason for the disagreement. The truth is the disagreement is Trump’s right and does not pose a threat to the press. If the First Amendment were ever repealed, the words “CONGRESS shall make no law . . . ” would be removed from the Bill of Rights and the Congress would be free to impose any restrictions on the press and mandate punishment to any degree they wish for any infraction. It’s that simple.
Pete Commander is a 14-year Navy veteran who served as a hospital corpsman and is a registered respiratory therapist. He holds a master of arts degree in international relations from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.