It’s possible to believe that Rand Paul is the douchiest douche who ever douched, and also to believe that, like the blind pig that finds an ear of corn, he’s right once in a while. But before we go throwing roses at Rand, let’s review the bidding:
- Paul’s filibuster was about the use of drones against American civilians on American soil:
Paul dug in, saying he would be happy to end it, but only “if the president or the attorney general will clarify that they will not kill Americans on American soil.”
Paul was talking about something that’s a far-off hypothetical when the reality of killing American citizens with drones has already happened, and the Obama Administration has repeatedly dodged Congressional oversight of the drone program. Paul’s stunt wasn’t aimed at addressing either of those substantive issues. Instead, he was, as is typical of the true glibertarian, chasing a dark shadow in a corner while ignoring what was obvious to all in the bright sunshine. The reason is simple: the people who write Paul checks are fine with killing brown Muslim Americans in a far-off land, and are irrationally afraid of a black president sending a Hellfire missile down their chimney.
- Paul chose to filibuster the nomination of the head of the CIA, even though he stated repeatedly that his concern was the killing of Americans on American soil (read that story linked above, or this one, because that was really his only concern). Would the CIA do that? Maybe, but even if you grant that the fantasy that the CIA would kill Americans on American soil (versus the reality of them having killed Americans overseas), the place to protest that is when the defense and intelligence appropriation bills come to the floor. At that point, Paul could filibuster until an amendment was added to the bill to compel the Administration to release more information on drone killings, at a minimum, or to require specific authorizations of force before drones are used in any foreign country, or any number of other limitations that tied drone use and disclosure to funding. But that would be possibly effective and certainly risky to Paul’s electoral future, so instead he filibustered Brennan, an act that even Mitch McConnell briefly joined, simply because it was of a piece with the rest of the sand that McConnell likes to throw in the Senate’s gears. If Paul would threaten the drone program in a way that could actually change the drone program, then shit would get real on the Senate floor very quickly.
I agree with John that the national security state is a fucking mess and needs reform. So, even though Rand Paul was advancing a conspiracy theory rather than addressing the real issue, the fact that he talked about it at all is worth some respect. I’m just not going to give him the serious nod that he’s getting around DC today because he made much ado about a peripheral issue.
Also, too: if the DC media weren’t a re-animated corpse, they’d point out that McConnell and the rest should be forced to stand on the Senate floor until their bladders are full when they “filibuster” something, just as Paul did last night.