Mr. Paul Goes to Washington

Senator Rand Paul's filibuster of John Brennan's nomination to head the CIA yesterday accomplished four important things:

  • 1. It delayed, if not aborted, a terrible nominee's confirmation. Brennan should not assume directorship of the CIA, and a little sand in the gears of his confirmation is welcome.
  • 2. It highlighted the breathtaking power claimed by President Obama, through his Attorney General Eric Holder - the power to execute an American on American soil, absent any imminent threat, with no due process protection. Given the history of Homeland Security considering conservative protest groups potential terrorists, it is not unreasonable to fear a slippery slope towards tyranny.
  • 3. It firmly established Senator Paul's status as a national figure, willing to stake out an important issue. His extemporaneous performance for over 12 hours impressed many people with its coherence.
  • 4. It started to drive a wedge between the left and Obama, whose tendency to take executive power beyond the limits envisioned by the Constitution (executive orders, recess appointments when the Senate is in session for example) should trouble all Americans.

Ben Shapiro of Breitbart exclusively reported that an ACLU official backed Senator Paul's filibuster:

On Wednesday afternoon, Christopher Anders, Senior Legislative Council at the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington D.C., spoke with Breitbart News exclusively about Senator Rand Paul's filibuster of the John Brennan nomination to CIA director over the administration's failures to answer questions about domestic use of drones. Anders backed Paul to the hilt, and was highly critical of the Obama administration.

"It's certainly a courageous and historic effort by Senator Rand Paul and his colleagues, who are now increasing in numbers and coming to the fore in support of his filibuster," said Anders. "The information Senator Paul is looking for goes to the very core of what the US is and who Americans are as a people." Anders pointed out that the information Paul seeks is easy for the administration to hand over - it "ought to be a no-brainer," he said. "It ought to be upsetting for everyone, all Americans of both parties, to not be able to get a straight answer to what is a very straightforward question from Senator Paul."

Senator Ron Wyden, a left wing Democrat, also expressed support for the filibuster, though he didn't join in it.

Nevertheless, the New York Times portrayed the filibuster as a troubling partisan maneuver: "Republicans, Led by Rand Paul, Finally End Filibuster" read the headline, while the body of the article included such language as, "A small group of Republicans, led by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky...."

Much is being made of the fact that Twitter posts were read into the record - a first for a Senate filibuster, and a move that has real potential to bring the voices of ordinary Americans into future filibusters.

Senate Democrats are already grumbling about filibuster "reform" - to weaken the ability of the Senate to function as the "saucer" to cool the hot tea of political passions, in the metaphor George Washington is credited with creating in speaking to James Madison.

With the White House's campaign of lying about the Sequester impact (pink slips already going out to teachers, for example) and efforts to inflict maximum pain on the public, the trust President Obama has enjoyed from the American people is starting to delcine along with his approval ratings. Unease about his administration's claim to have the right to execute Americans with death from above absent any due process ought to trouble everyone. Senator Paul has done our country a service, and not so incidentally helped his poltical prospects.