Saturday, March 9, 2013

Why Rand Paul is Right and Obama, McCain and Graham are Wrong

Something different happened this week.  In a Senate where true filibusters had long been replaced by the mere threat of filibuster - where Senators no longer stand and talk to stall a bill but simply vote against a "cloture motion", Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) went old school.

Incensed by the implication by Attorney General Eric Holder's implication that while the US had never used a drone strike against a US citizen on US soil, that the executie branch might have the right to do so, Paul took to the Senate floor for over 12 hours.

Paul's filibuster was impressive on multiple levels:
(1) He Actually Filibustered - rather than hiding behind procedural rules, Paul took to the floor to make his point and left no lack of clarity about what he was doing and why.
(2) He Filibustered Something Relevant - filibustering the CIA director nomination on the basis of what the CIA director might actually order is a pertinent filibuster.  Paul did not filibuster some unrelated nomination, he filibustered a nominee until it was clear what that nominee could or could not do in office.
(3) He Was Dead Right - the notion that without charge or trial that the US government could even conceive of killing an American on American soil should outrage each and every US citizen.  Liberals were all too proud to protest during the Bush administration when the government encroached on civil liberties, but have been silent as the Obama administration has continued many of the same policies - or even worse in this case.  On the left, only Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) showed up to support Paul's cause.  Good for Senator Wyden - and shame on the rest of the Democrats in the Senate.
(4) He Got His Way - Paul's filibuster was successful.  Attorney General Holder clarified, in no uncertain terms, that the executive does NOT have the authority to kill Americans on American soil.  Paul won a meaningful victory for American civil liberties.
(5) He Was True to His Word - Paul stated that he was filibustering the Brennan nomination to ensure that Americans would not be killed on American soil - once he was assured, he not only voted to invoke cloture, he also voted for the nominee.  There was nothing below board or disingenuous about what Paul did - he stated a clear principle (that we all should support) and didn't move the goal posts when he got what he wanted.

I am astounded that Holder or any Obama administration official ever implied the right to kill Americans without review in the first place.  He was dead wrong and I feel better now that he has admitted as much.

I am even more astounded at the sniping by John McCain and Lindsey Graham at Senator Paul for his filibuster.  In a year where John McCain promised not to filibuster, then filibustered the nomination of Chuck Hagel, a man he once named as a probable Secretary of Defense in a McCain administration, McCain has no moral high ground.  This is the same McCain who said we couldn't afford the Bush tax cuts, then turned around and hurled mud at President Obama for supporting a very modest partial repeal of those cuts.  In the realm of respectful politics, what Rand Paul did is far ahead of what John McCain has done of late.

Rand Paul captured the spirit of liberty, the very spirit that I have previously written is the key to the Republicans not being relegated to a minority party for the next 50 years.  Republican leaders would be wise to pay attention and learn from what happened this week, not shove it to the side as childishness.

Rand Paul is to be commended for his actions this week.  I certainly don't agree with a lot of his views, but this was a classy, principled defense of our rights.  We all owe Senator Paul a debt of gratitude.

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