Kentucky’s junior senator, Rand Paul, (with Ron Wyden‘s help) is not my first choice for any elected office, but he’s earned both my admiration for his quixotic quest to rescue Congress’ abysmal ratings with a filibuster. I’m not a libertarian. I like Americans that stand for what’s right.
Paul’s speech began on the Senate floor at just after 11.45am ET on Wednesday. After about an hour, he admitted his throat was getting dry and said: “I can’t talk forever.” But after more than two hours he was still going strong, striking the themes of citizens’ constitutional rights over government power that have made him a Tea Party favourite and hero of libertarian-leaning followers of his father. “The constitution limits power given to Congress. But it does not limit rights,” he said.
And more than four hours after beginning Paul was joined by the Democrat Wyden. Though Wyden said he was still supporting Brennan’s appointment, he raised many of the same questions as Paul. “Every American has the right to know when their government can kill them,” he said. He added: “More needs to be done … What are the limitations with respect to this lethal authorities, in particular whether they can be used inside the United States?”
Another Democratic senator, Dick Durbin, showed up and did himself absolutely no good.
I’m disgusted that “liberals” would equate lining up in formation like good soldiers behind the President is a measure of party unity.
Many on the left are snapping to the knee jerk reaction of attacking Paul and the GOP for this effort but the things Paul is saying are posing some rather awkward questions. His point is not that he wants to block Brennan but that we need to have the President answer questions about the recent drone memos which basically argued the President can kill anyone he wants anywhere he wants as long as he decides they are a terrorist.
Paul is speaking in support of the 4th amendment and the right of US citizens to be free from such attacks. He points out that President Obama has refused to say straight out that he would not kill non combatant US citizens in the US. Paul has made it clear he has no problem with taking on terrorists, he merely wants things to be presented to a judge (kind of like that Constitution thing requires). He also is fine with exigent circumstances that would require fast action.
Seems a pretty simple thing for the President to promise to me. Indeed if this were a President Bush or Romney I suspect many liberal senators would be outraged at the memo but they have for the most part been oddly silent on Obama.
Of course, this is a publicity stunt. The Congress would need an alternative policy to replace the pork barrel a GWOT has facilitated this decade, and, like a good libat, Paul doesn’t have one of those. Still, let the libats take point, and let true prudence and conscience dictate a saner policy.