Wow! There for a minute I was excited by Rand Paul, too.
I had forgotten that the real filibuster could still exist. In fact, I had been assuming it was not possible to do it under today’s Senate rules.
But there he was, one of the stereotypical conservatives, engaged in traditional, Jimmy Stewart-youthful-idealistic glory holding the Senate floor all by his lonesome, insisting a nominee for a cabinet position answer questions about extra legal killings of Americans by the government. Something all Senators should be greatly concerned about.
Perhaps I’d been selling the right wing short. Or at least this particular right-wing nut.
Then I was hit by a reality check, and struck fearful.
This is a man who has no qualms at all about using the filibuster in the manner it has come to be used routinely-not to stop odious governmental action, but to stop all governmental action. While it was true that he didn’t have forty votes on his side in stopping Senate approval, the political acumen he showed by going outside today’s norm was truly impressive,
And therein lies the frightening part. This is a man who is running for president in 2016. And, more than anything else, this action demonstrates beautifully that he is a man quite capable of pulling the wool over the eyes of the average American voter.
I don’t doubt for a minute that he is truthfully concerned with the danger of a government willing and ready to exercise the ability to kill American citizens on the basis of nothing more than that the government wants to.
But that is hardly all that the government is capable and willing to do that riles him. Caring for the sick and indigent, collecting income taxes, building roads, enforcing standards, keeping planes from running into one another, and educating all our citizens are equally likely to run against Rand Paul’s principles.
And for most other Republicans on most other issues, the required 40 vote minority to stop all specific issues is not hard to join, if it embarrasses the president or holds up to the desires of the minority agenda. After all, such blockage does nothing, under the modern filibuster, to hinder passage of meaningless legislation that promotes votes at home for incumbents, like giving away flags or commendations.
I doubt there is much more than “maintain an army” that Paul does hold to be the business of the government.
But he demonstrated masterful media savvy to turn a serious handicap for the Republican party into a game winning strategy. In a pre-emptive strike at the Democrat’s best example of obstructionism, he has placed himself at the forefront of all other political contenders for the Republican nomination. Jeb Bush may try, but I doubt very seriously that he will be the nominee. He’s clearly up against a master, whether or not he’s experienced or even in the mainstream.
Watch this man very carefully.