Amid the Rand Paul filibuster extravaganza, one question we saw lots of on Facebook and Twitter from conservatives in Louisiana…
Where was Sen. David Vitter?
Vitter, as a Republican occupying similar ideological territory to Paul where issues of small government are concerned, would have been expected to be in the number of the dozen senators who pitched in to give Paul a break. But he was nowhere to be found.
Vitter’s staff has an explanation; namely, that he was out of town.
“Sen. Vitter is in Louisiana for a family obligation,” said spokesman Joel DiGrado. “He strongly supports Sen. Paul’s filibuster, opposes the use of drones in this country, and opposes the Brennan nomination.”
So there’s that.
According to Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who was one of the 12 on the floor with Paul during his 13-hour ordeal, the filibuster wasn’t planned in advance – or at least Paul didn’t organize it with anybody else that Lee knew about. Vitter didn’t know the filibuster was coming and choose to run from it, is the point.
Meantime, the fallout from the filibuster continues to pour out. Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro…
On Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) served notice to both the Republican establishment and to the Democrat-Media Complex: conservatism isn’t gone. It’s not even on vacation. The new wave of conservatives is here, and they know how to play the game.
At approximately 11:47 a.m. EST, Paul took to the floor of the Senate to filibuster the nomination of counterterrorism czar John Brennan for CIA Director. Paul stated his reason specifically and clearly: the Obama administration has refused to answer question as to whether they believe it is acceptable under the Constitution to kill American citizens on US soil using drones if those citizens are not engaged in an immediate terrorist threat. Paul was broader than that, actually – he simply asked the administration for a set of rules that could be used to limit their power to execute American citizens here at home. Over and over again, the administration refused to turn over the legal memos detailing its policies.
And so Paul talked. And boy, did he talk. For nearly 13 hours, he talked, taking breaks only when spelled by Senators including fellow Tea Partiers Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Pat Toomey (R-PA). Even an honest Democrat – apparently the only one in the chamber – got into the act: Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). Citing everyone from left to right, Paul pointed out the hypocrisy of an administration ripping into waterboarding of terrorists but happy to target them for death from the skies. He asked repeatedly why the administration could not answer his simple question about the boundaries of government power. And the American people listened.
Rand Paul added a lot of big fans Wednesday.
A day that was supposed to be just another Washington snow day brought us something we haven’t seen in a long time: an honest-to-goodness, in-keeping-with-the-Constitution, old-fashioned filibuster, all over a basic, fundamental concept central to our founding: the power of the central government is limited, and the government’s authority to exercise lethal force must be particularly and specifically limited.
But on Wednesday, when Senator Paul asked to schedule a vote on a resolution of Senate opposition to the use of drones on Americans in America, Durbin objected. Spying on Americans is unforgiveable. Blowing them up with a Hellfire missile, not so much. What would Durbin be saying if Bush were still president and Holder’s letter were written by Alberto Gonzales.
Senator Paul’s filibuster was dramatic and historic. Indeed, while CSPAN2 is normally less interesting than a 3 AM half-hour long infomercial for Facelift in a Flash, not once from the time I started hearing Senator Paul, before 10 AM here in the Rocky Mountains, through at least 10 hours later as I write this note, did I consider changing the channel.
Something tells us that Vitter would have loved to get in on that action if he could.