Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster over domestic drone strikes has set the Neo-Con world on edge. The old bulls feel threatened by the surging new bulls. For decades conservatives have been waiting for someone to stand up against the spineless, too-long-in-Congress, old guard Republicans.
John McCain and Lindsey Graham were the first to excoriate Paul and his fellow constitutionalists. About the only thing that keeps McCain in the Senate is that he was a prisoner of war during Vietnam War. I’m sorry, but that does not qualify a person for public office. My father was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, served in the Pacific during World War II, and also soldiered in Korea where he lost his right leg in a mortar attack. He would have been quick to tell you that none of these things made him better qualified to run for political office, except maybe to tell you that war is hell and you better think long and hard about committing a nation to it.
But now we have Bill Kristol taking a swipe at the Rand Paul filibuster. Here was Kristol’s take on the story:
“How much staying power is there in a political stance that requires waxing semi-hysterical about the imminent threat of Obama-ordered drone strikes against Americans sitting in cafes?
“Is patting Rand Paul on the back for his fear-mongering a plausible path to the presidency for Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz? Is embracing kookiness a winning strategy for the Republican Party? We doubt it.”
Let’s get something straight. It was Eric Holder’s unwillingness to make a definitive statement about drone strikes that led Paul and others to pursue the filibuster. Holder eventually conceded that he either was not clear or got caught and sent a letter clarifying his position. “[I]n the words of Senator Paul, it took ‘a month and a half and a root canal’ to get this answer.”
But there is a bigger issue not often consider. Laws are written ambiguously on purpose. Ambiguity leaves room for interpretation by administration lawyers and politicians in general. Who gets to define “extraordinary circumstances” and “emergencies”?
Every government program has grown in size, scope, and expense from its original sale to the American people. Glenn Jacobs reminds us how consistent government creep works:
“Unfortunately, history shows that government programs almost never remain within the constraints under which they are first proposed. For instance, the Patriot Act was written ostensibly to give the federal government more tools to fight terrorism. Within a few years of its implementation, however, surveillance powers which the Patriot Act granted the FBI were used to obtain evidence in a cockfighting case in Tennessee. While animal cruelty is abhorrent, I think we can all agree that it is not a threat to national security. Likewise, RICO laws, originally aimed at organized crime, have been used to prosecute everyone from pro-life activists to junk bond dealers. Or look at federal income tax rates which, in 1913, were 1% on incomes up to $20,000 (a sizable income back then) all the way up to 7% on incomes over $500,000. Of course, today these rates are multiples higher.”
McCain, Graham, and Kristol believe they can negotiate with the Democrats in good faith. Every time they’ve tried it, the Democrats get the best of them. Rand Paul put the Democrats on notice that they’re in for a fight.
Kristol brings no energy to the GOP. He’s a political downer who is desperately trying to stay relevant so he can continue to get paying gigs from the GOP Establishment and be invited to all the best parties that Washington has to offer.