J. D. Heyes
Match 10, 2013
Patriotic Americans fed up with the growing lawlessness of the Obama administration and the opposition party’s chronic inability to counter him got a huge shot in the arm the evening of March 6, when Sen. Rand Paul took to the floor of the Senate to stand up for the Constitution.
As “senior” members of his Republican Party dined with President Obama (Paul ate a candy bar for dinner), the Kentucky senator launched a marathon 12-hour-plus filibuster aimed at blocking a vote on John O. Brennan, whom the president has nominated to head the CIA, because Brennan said during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he agrees with the administration that it has a right to kill U.S. citizens on American soil with impunity.
While the leaders of his party in the Senate seemed content to let that obvious constitutional usurpation pass without challenge, Paul drew a line in the sand and vowed not to take “yes, we can” for an answer. So he dug in his heels, took the Senate floor, and threw up a huge red flag that tens of millions of Americans – and not a few lawmakers – have applauded.
Recipe for a renaissance of liberty-minded government
The evening of March 6, Paul, at the Senate dais, ticked off a litany of historical references, constitutional passages and other documentation which supported his argument that attacking American citizens not presently engaged in an activity that puts lives in imminent danger is simply not constitutionally permissible. And he did something exceedingly rare in Washington these days: He did not simply demand an answer to the very simple “yes or no” question on the issue he posed to Attorney General Eric Holder earlier in the week; he demanded accountability from everyone, from the president on down, who seemed to agree that in the case of plotting certain crimes, due process no longer applies.
Here are some of Paul’s most memorable – and most oft-tweeted – quotes from his filibuster:
– I will not sit quietly and let [the president] shred the Constitution.
– If there were an ounce of courage in this body I would be joined by other senators… saying they will not tolerate this.
– I have hounded and hounded and hounded him (Brennan) [for answers]… Only after yanking his chain… does he say he’s going to obey the law. We should be alarmed by that.
– Where’s the cacophony that stood up and said “How can tap my phone without going to a judge first?’ I say: “How can you kill someone without going to a judge first?’
– The people on the [administration's hit] list might be me.
– I’m not accusing anybody of being [Hitler], [but then noted the law] should protect you from a president that might kill you with a drone.
Swelling ranks of supporters
Such accurate statements and such a bold stance earned Paul political star status, literally overnight, as reflected in the Twitter universe and in other online forums:
“Sen. Rand Paul is giving a better human rights speech than Obama Barack ever has. And no teleprompter was in front of the Senator’s desk.”
“It’s been a while since I could say I am a proud American. Thank you Rand. Stand with Rand!”
“Epic! Stand with Rand!”
“I get the feeling that a more Libertarian stance is the only thing that can bring about a fresh start for the GOP. Stand with Rand!”
“I haven’t killed anyone yet, and I have no intention of killing Americans. But I might.” – Barack Obama
“This isn’t a filibuster. This is a line in the sand.”
“Do you stand with Senator Rand Paul and demand an answer from the White House on extra-judicial assassinations in America?”
“Thank you, Senator Rand Paul, for standing by We the People. Stand with Rand!”
“I am a two-time Obama voter. I stand with Rand.”
In another indication that Paul’s message was resonating with a fed-up American electorate, the ranks of his Twitter followers swelled from about 96,720, according to one post, to more than 146,500 as of this writing (if you want to follow him, click here).
The Old Guard disapproved
Not surprisingly, the “Old Republican Guard” did not approve of the brash and bold Paul, who has thrown down his gauntlet in defiance of their wishes. In the hours following Paul’s filibuster, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who ran a losing campaign against Obama in 2008, lambasted Paul, telling him that he needs to “calm down.”
“The country needs more senators who care about liberty, but if Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms. He needs to know what he’s talking about,” he said, quoting from a Wall Street Journal piece.
He went on to say he didn’t “think that what happened yesterday was helpful to the American people,” and that Paul was giving “ammunition to those who say the rules of the Senate are being abused” (under current Senate rule, by the way, Paul’s use of the filibuster was not only customary but proper).
McCain was enjoined in his criticism by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Following his dinner with Obama, he said of Paul’s filibuster: “This idea that we’re going to use a drone to attack a citizen in a cafe in America is ridiculous.”
Memo to Graham: Until Paul shamed the administration into following the rule of law, that is precisely what the president you dined with was advocating.
Victory for Paul – and the Old Guard loses
In the end, these two political cowards came out on the losing end. Besides diminishing their status among the rank-and-file of their party, Paul’s efforts paid off: Hours after Paul left the Senate floor, Holder responded with a new letter to the Kentucky senator disavowing the right to kill Americans at home:
Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on an American soil? The answer is no.
It’s not certain when the likes of McCain, Graham and the Old Guard GOP lost their nerve to govern, but Paul’s courage – and his resultant rise in stature – appears set to lead a new breed of liberty-minded lawmakers in a coup of sorts against them and other members of the establishment who have grown far too accustomed Washington’s business-as-usual attitude.
This article was posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 9:55 am