A Clear Misuse of the Filibusteron March 7th, 2013 at 3:30 PM
Senator Rand Paul shut down the Senate yesterday to ask a hypothetical question to the president. The question is an easy one; does the Constitution give the president the authority to order a drone strike on an American citizen on American soil without due process? The answer is of course not. But the Attorney General wouldn’t say that and the White House press team won’t issue a statement correcting him. Sen. Paul’s reaction was to hold a hissy fit from the Senate floor and hold up the confirmation of John Brennan for CIA Director. So yawn. This whole thing is ridiculous. The administration is stupid for not flat out saying that a drone attack on an American citizen without due process of law is unconstitutional, but to filibuster someone’s nomination to a position without the goal of derailing the confirmation is the wrong way to achieve the stated goal of drawing attention to this matter. The Senate floor is not Sen. Paul’s private outlet to the people; it is just one of many avenues a sitting senator has to engage the public. This rant was a misuse of the filibuster and much more appropriate to be delivered on Hannity or Rush.
The argument has become too conceptual. Practicality was absent last night. Using drones to attack citizens in restaurants was really a hypothetical offered by Sen. Paul during his filibuster. C’mon. So, according to the junior senator’s hypothetical, a family of four could be enjoying their chicken fried steaks at Applebee’s when all of a sudden half of the damn restaurant blows up. Two terrorists and their terror plot would be dead, but what about Applebee’s? So Sen. Paul let me ask you, is it plausible that the military or the Justice Department would ask a president to authorize the slaughter of Applebee’s in-order to kill a high value target? The answer is of course not. Think about all the layers of law enforcement that would have access to walking in to Applebee’s to make an arrest. Common sense should squash the ridiculous idea of drones attacking your friendly neighborhood Applebee’s.
Senator John McCain, a veteran of the Senate who understands its rules, criticized the greenhorn from Kentucky saying, “If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids.” That is right on. This was a stunt and I certainly hope the Democrats don’t ever decide to follow precedent.
The problem with blow-hards like Sen. Paul is that they usually miss the appropriate opportunity to exert their radical passion. The Obama administration has not ordered a drone strike on an American on American soil, but they did drop the ball on the Benghazi attack. Why did Sen. Paul and his friends not filibuster Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Defense Secretary until more information came to light on Benghazi? Four Americans died in a pre-planned terrorist attack that the administration first called a spontaneous violent act that grew from an otherwise peaceful protest. The story the White House told us turned out to be false. Susan Rice deservingly lost a possible promotion, but an all-out filibuster like this did not materialize despite the administration’s continuing refusal to answer the Senate’s questions. Was it too real of an issue to tackle? Are hypotheticals more important than real events?
Paul crazies don’t bother with real world issues. They love hypotheticals and slippery-slopes. They are always crying about a hypothetical that directly leads us down a slippery-slope, and they are here to protect us from that. And because hypotheticals are always so grand, such as leveling Applebee’s, the Paul freedom protectors serve like super heroes against imagined super villains. A president who authorizes the destruction of Applebee’s would be a Lex Luther like super villain and I doubt few would argue that, but here we have a senator who believes invoking the filibuster is necessary to point out how absurd this is.
At 12:41 am the show ended, the Senate adjourned, and people left applauding Sen. Paul.
So did anyone win? Did the administration cave? Did the Attorney General get fired? Did Sen. Paul stop Brennan’s confirmation? Did Sen. Paul save us from a drone strike? Did he save Applebee’s?
All of the Ron Paul disciples, of course, have all lined up behind this theater because their new fearless leader is infallible. The Paul cult is more of a feverish bunch of extremists than the Obama cult. Let’s hope someone helps Sen. Paul understand when the filibuster is an appropriate tool to use and when to exercise one of the many other avenues a sitting senator has to get his point across.