Kentucky US Senator Rand Paul’s old school filibuster against the confirmation of John Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency on Wednesday provided some revealing moments about both parties.
In a rare act of unbiased journalism, the Huffington Post chased down several Democratic US Senators to inquire why they were not present to support Paul’s filibuster. Their excuses sounded like something W.C. Fields would holler at a precocious kid interfering with a scam.
Ohio US Senator Sherrod Brown justified his absence with “I’ve got stuff to do and was doing a lot of other things.”
Socialist US Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said he was “working right now on many, many other issues.”
Democratic Majority Whip Dick Durbin was present but to defend the president’s drone policy.
It seems that Democrats aren’t so concerned about preserving Americans’ civil liberties so long as their man is in control, exposing their hypocrisy from their Bush-Cheney era shrieking and demonstrating their commitment to the expanding supremacy of their state over society.
While the “Question Authority” crowd (Oregon US Senator Ron Wyden excepted) was out to lunch, some of Paul’s fellow GOP senators were out to dinner with President Obama and didn’t exactly shower the scion of America’s leading libertarian with praise.
Arizona US Senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain accused the libertarian of “showboating” and mocked his filibuster.
The “seasoned” senator decided to also insult millennials by taking to the floor of the US Senate to read from an editorial of the Wall Street Journal that included the gem “political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms.”
So it’s not ok for American intelligence operatives to waterboard terrorists who might possess information critical to stopping a bomb attack against a domestic transportation artery but it’s fine for the federal government to launch “hunter killers” out of the Terminator movies against our citizens on American soil?
And people thought Sarah Palin was the drag on the 2008 ticket.
The crank from Arizona was joined in his criticism of Paul by his political sidekick Lindsey Graham.
The South Carolina senator went beyond chiding Paul, also bragging that he was so perturbed by the filibuster that he switched his vote from opposing Brennan’s nomination to supporting it.
So there you have it: a United States Senator’s vote for the confirmation of the country’s top spy was decided not by the nominee’s qualifications or fitness for the office, but out of spite for the actions of a fellow senator.
Forget Chris Christie and Susan Collins. If there is a Republican official around who deserves to be primaried, it’s Graham, who not only seemed to revel throwing a principled conservative under the bus but arrogantly advertised how he allowed his petulance to cloud his judgment on a matter important to our national security and potentially our civil liberties.
Whenever a law is enacted, it remains on the books long after the person initially charged with enforcing has left office. You write the law as it would be applied by both Barack Obama and Dick Cheney.
Laws should always be crafted with an eye on how they may be potentially exploited.
And while Senators McCain and Graham might trust President Obama to not abuse such broad authority today, that doesn’t mean he or a successor will exercise restraint some time later.
Perhaps Paul was somewhat guilty of (gasp) playing politics, though his cause was certainly noble.
Can anyone provide a greater example of big government than the state possessing the authority to send a drone out to blast a citizen into smithereens?
Paul’s procedural and oratorical gambit brought him considerable established and new media attention and helped further move him beyond his father’s political shadow.
If anyone had any doubt Rand Paul was going to win this weekend’s CPAC presidential straw poll such thoughts have been erased, especially since a good many of the conservative confab attendees are the very paranoid “whippersnappers” that Senator McCain wants off his lawn/party.
Beyond his agreeable posturing, Paul received some back up from his fellow “new generation” conservatives like Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida.
Some establishment types even showed support for Paul’s filibuster, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn of Texas. You can judge on your own whether their stand with Rand was motivated by principle or primary anxiety.
If within the next four years the Republican Party is able to become something other than a more benign and efficient manager of the “super state,” Rand Paul’s filibuster might prove to be the moment when the umbilical cord with the party establishment was cut as younger, more sincere conservatives rise to greater public prominence.
After five years of fronting by “too milquetoast to fail” politicians, last Wednesday the GOP became a little less the party of John McCain and a little more the party of Rand Paul.