1:27 a.m. | Updated WASHINGTON – A small group of Republicans, led by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, stalled the Senate on Wednesday by waging a nearly 13-hour old-school, speak-until-you-can-speak-no-more filibuster over the government’s use of lethal drone strikes – forcing the Senate to delay the expected confirmation of John O. Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. [New York Times]
DEMOCRATS should be ashamed today. While Senator Rand Paul led a filibuster on the importance of civil liberties, fan politics and propping up their people in Obama administration gagged them into irrelevance on the issue.
Known in the Twitter universe as #filiblizzard, the #filiblizzard and #StandwithRand contingent, which I joined yesterday, demanded that other senators join in. It’s doubtful Republicans would have jumped in if not prodded to seize the moment. But once the momentum built through new media outlets, Senator Paul’s allies grew by the thousands, and his cause caught fire.
But of course, Democrats won’t be bothered at all, because Democratic senators have no shame when it comes to doing their job. It’s still all about fan politics in the Senate for the most part, with Democrats likely to prove that when Pres. Obama’s entitlement cuts come up.
Senator Rand Paul, I believe, would have stood up regardless of who was in the White House, but it’s very unlikely the rest of the Republicans would have joined him if a Republican was in the White House.
That doesn’t excuse that Democrats were AWOL on civil liberties yesterday during Paul’s 13-hour filibuster, minus Senator Ron Wyden, plus one question from Senator Durbin that made him sound small and silly, which he had to admit through other words.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) even joked that Paul’s filibuster was “background noise.”
As the filibuster crept toward its 13th hour, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) joined to ask Paul whether the U.S. government had the authority to take out the fourth plane on 9/11 before it crashed into the Capitol.
“I don’t think this is such a clear and easy situation,” Durbin said.
Paul called it a “red herring.”
“We all agree that you can repel an imminent attack,” Paul said. “None of us disagree with that. We are talking about a targeted drone program” against citizens who are “not actively engaged in combat. … I don’t think that standard can be used in the United States.”
Durbin said he respected Paul’s response. “I stand with the senator,” Durbin said. “I think it is a legitimate question.”
[...] “I want it understood that I have great respect for this effort to really ask these kinds of questions,” Wyden said. “And Senator Paul has certainly been digging into these issues in great detail.”
Senator Paul’s stand, coming after his vote to approve Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, proves that he is not your average right-winger, but also is as thoughtful on issues that move him as a likely opponent for 2016, Gov. Chris Christie. Sometimes it doesn’t work out for him, as a discussion with Rachel Maddow proved. But considering Jeb Bush’s latest incoherence on immigration reform, Paul looks like a giant today. Paul has certainly affixed himself in the leadership of the Republican right with his filibuster yesterday, which on a snow day ended up captivated Washington, with the Twitter universe demanding that his Republican colleagues join in.
It was a very good day for Senator Rand Paul. He helped Republicans find some meaning on an issue that matters.
By comparison, the Democratic party looked petty, small, and hyper-partisan. That they yielded the floor on civil liberties should embarrass the entire congressional delegation, but it won’t.
Fan politics always wins out to principle today, which it does on the Republican side as well most of the time.
But at least there is one honest man in the Senate, even if I rarely agree with him. Senator Rand Paul is a man to watch.