Racists. Bigots. Homophobes. Nazis. Joke. Irrelevant. Over. Teabaggers.
After all the name-calling by politicians, pundits and celebrities, most of whom are more than willing to pontificate about the need for leadership in Washington, D.C., it took a Tea Party Republican to unite people from the Right and the Left in opposing what almost certainly was an immoral, unspoken policy of the Obama Administration.
When Rand Paul stood up in the Senate to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination to the CIA, he drew the condemnation of the old dogs in his own party, particularly John McCain and Lindsey Graham, for publicly and loudly demanding a definitive answer from the White House about its policy of using drones against Americans on U.S. soil.
It was a legitimate and necessary question because this Administration’s policy on drone use has “evolved” to the point where the president asserts authority to kill Americans abroad without any sort of due process, and he doesn’t care about innocents caught up in the blast wave, either.
Graham showed up on the Senate floor with a poster ridiculing the notion of drone strikes on U.S. soil, because that could never happen.
McCain growled at Paul, “Calm down, Senator. The U.S. government cannot randomly target U.S. citizens. If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously, he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids. I don’t think what happened yesterday is helpful to the American people.”
But actually, some very helpful things did happen due to Paul’s “stunt.”
First and foremost, the White House blinked and publicly stated its drone policy does not authorize the president to attack Americans in the United States. Previously, Attorney General Eric Holder had stated in a letter to Paul that the president did indeed have that authority. Now Paul has received a letter stating otherwise.
Secondly, Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz were able to introduce a bill prohibiting drone strikes against Americans on U.S. soil without an imminent threat, hopefully ensuring that the White House’s stated policy has the force of law.
Thirdly, in perhaps the most amazing turn of events, leftists went to Twitter in droves to support Paul’s filibuster. People as prominent as actor John Cusack and Van Jones cheered on the Tea Party senator.
Needless to say, the establishment was left stunned and sputtering. In addition to McCain’s comments, an array of “in-the-loop” politicians and media talking heads just didn’t know what to make of this turn of events. After years of putting down the Tea Party, the politicians and media watched with what can only be described as cold terror as Americans bypassed the “normal channels” and stood with the “extremist.”
It may have been that fact, more than anything else, that has changed the game. The White House says it was clarifying its policy by stating its position against U.S. drone strikes. It’s a safe bet that by “clarifying,” the White House really means “changing.” There’s little doubt that until Paul stood up on the Senate floor, the drone policy was going in exactly the direction Holder had said, giving Obama authority to kill Americans who make the enemies list.
When McCain talks about Paul being taking seriously, he really means, if Paul wants to be part of the establishment club. Newsflash for Sen. McCain: Your club of get-alongs is what needs to go, not people like Paul and his “stunts.”
The Tea Party exists to defend the Constitution against power grabs of the sort this Administration makes, and this do-nothing Congress allows, on a regular basis. Paul was showing something that has been sorely lacking in Congress: leadership.
Paul told CNN he was pleased with the outcome: “I’m quite happy with the answer. I’m disappointed it took a month and a half and a root canal to get it, but we did get the answer.”
Spoken like a true Tea Partier.