Hats off to Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky for finally getting
past the Obama administration stonewalling about the
domestic use of drones.
I have not been a big fan of many of Mr. Paul’s views in the
past, although there seems little question that he does not go as
far as his father, former Congressman Ron Paul, in his
libertarian foreign policy stands.
There is much to admire about the libertarian impulse in
American domestic politics, but Ron Paul tried to establish
this impulse in foreign policy and came up with an
isolationism that made him into a cult figure.
Ron Paul has now retired from politics, and left the field to
Rand Paul has been mentioned as a potential Republican
presidential candidate in 2016, but his prospects have been
considered limited by his father’s legacy of unpopular
When the U.S. attorney general recently refused to give a yes
or no answer to the U.S. senate about the power of the president
to employ drones against American citizens on U.S. soil, many
GOP senators (and many others both liberal and conservative)
complained, but no one seemed able to do anything significant
about it (even though the question was a proper and necessary
question to ask.). This is the kind of stonewalling the Obama
administration has been performing for years. Although the
Republicans are a minority in the senate, they have procedural
tools (previously used against a GOP president by a Democratic
minority in years past). One of those tools is the filibuster.
The GOP senate leadership, made up primarily of old lions
(including Mitch McConnell and John McCain) have seemed
unable to act in the face of stonewalling and evasion. Rand Paul,
a relatively new senator, decided to act in spite of the leadership,
and began a filibuster against one of Mr. Obama’s nominees who
require senate confirmation. But Mr. Paul did not rely on mere
long-windedness to achieve his goal. He enlisted voters across the
nation with social media to urge their senators to join him in
his efforts. It worked. Not only did a number of GOP senators
soon take part, but even Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon
joined the filibuster! In the end, the attorney general answered
Mr. Paul’s question.
Mr. Obama’s gamesmanship and exaggeration in the current
sequestration controversy has apparently caused his national popularity
in the polls to take a nosedive. He has nominated questionable men
for the important cabinet posts at state and treasury. His seeming
hubris appeared to be impenetrable, just when compromise and
diplomacy might help domestic matters go his way. The Republicans
control the U.S. house of representatives and are blocking many of
his programs. GOP Speaker John Boehner has been atttempting to
lead his majority caucus in an effective opposition. It has not been
pretty nor inspiring, but Mr. Boehner has of late seemed to be
getting some traction.
Now Mr. Paul, a backbencher if there ever was one, has put some
teeth into the senate opposition. Mr. Obama, it would seem, now
must come out of the clouds if he is to advance his social welfare
When Mr. Paul recently visited Israel to meet with that nation’s
leaders and to assure them that his own policies were not
necessarily his father’s, he was greeted with some skepticism. It was
said, here and abroad, that actions speak louder than words, and
it remains to be seen where Rand Paul stands on many of the
important issues of our time.
But Mr. Paul’s small but instructive coup in the senate does signal
that he up to something interesting and potentially useful.
Credit is due him for his initiative and success. I would hope we
will see much more of this kind of success from his colleagues in the
house and senate during the many months to come, and as well, a
more engaged and transparent president.
Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All right reserved.