Rand Paul draws unlikely praise

Senator Rand Paul in 2011
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People are still talking about the Rand Paul filibuster. That, of course, is what he wanted. But he has drawn praise from people you would least expect. Better still, those people are thinking, and make you think.

All “Five” Hail Rand Paul

The first hint of this new outburst of clarity came on Fox News’ The Five. As regular viewers know, The Five includes four conservatives and a liberal. Now unless that liberal is Juan Williams, The Five don’t usually reach consensus, if they can have a civil discussion. But yesterday evening they almost did – with Bob Beckel in the liberal chair!

Matt Wilstein at Mediaite summed it up and included an embed. (Clip One, Go!) Here is what Bob Beckel said about Rand Paul:

Two weeks ago, we were sitting here arguing over whether we should use drone strikes to kill Americans overseas. And if you remember, I said they should filibuster [DCI candidate John] Brennan until they changed that policy. I think what you’re hearing here – and I give Rand Paul a lot of credit for it – is that there is, and always has been, an isolationist wing of the Republican Party. And I think they’ve been right. They’ve been very reluctant to commit American forces overseas….I think you are seeing that wing emerge again.

Beckel went on to say he had only one complaint about the Rand Paul filibuster: why limit it to firing a missile at an American citizen in America? Why not address firing such a missile overseas?

Once again CNAV must ask: are some liberals reading our material?

A liberal columnist admits: Rand Paul was right

Then there’s Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post. Rand Paul, of course, began by writing to John Brennan to ask about drone warfare in America. Robinson describes his own serious problem with what Attorney General Eric Holder wrote back to him:

But Holder added that there might be an “extraordinary circumstance” in which a president would “authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”

As Robinson said, Rand Paul believed that Holder “left the door ajar.” He hastened to add that we’re not talking about taking someone down who is actively giving a launch order, or flying a kamikaze plane of any size. We’re talking about proscribing and summarily executing someone. Rand Paul took that concern to the floor of the Senate.

A publicity stunt? Of course it was!

Of course, Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham didn’t understand that. They said Rand Paul pulled a publicity stunt, nothing more. Josh Feldman, also at Mediaite, mentioned them, and a few hawkish papers who denounced Rand Paul. Then he pointed out: Of course Rand Paul pulled a publicity stunt! What better stunt could a man pull, to get people talking about an issue? And for what higher motive could he pull it?

Jack Mirkinson at The Huffington Post noticed something else that broke yesterday. Shepherd Smith, on his Studio B program, seemed to change his mind from one segment to the next. (And he’s got the video to prove it; follow the link to his article and play it there.) First he said,

Who thinks it’s possible? If that is a question in America today, we’re done.

Then he spoke to Judge Andrew Napolitano. “Judge Nap” always makes you think. By the time “Shep” had former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson on, he was in full outrage mode over drone warfare in America, and even overseas.

They also killed [Anwar al-Awlaki]’s son, who’d done nothing!

By the way, that last recalls a heart-wrenching scene in Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. This scene shows up in every movie or mini-series version of that novel. Napoleon’s troops drag a teen-aged boy off, stand him up against a wall, and shoot him. (In some dramatizations they chain him to a stake first.) And all the while he’s shouting, in Russian,

I did nothing! I did nothing! I did nothing!

Be careful what you wish for

Cato the Younger would regard Rand Paul a man after his own heart.

Bronze bust of Cato the Younger from the Archaeological Museum of Rabat, Morocco. Found in the House of Venus, Volubilis. Photo: User Prioryman/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SDA 3.0 Unported License

Matt K. Lewis, at The Daily Caller, assessed the Rand Paul filibuster soberly:

My theory is that, in many ways, Obama is only giving us what we want. This is a problem — or at the very least, a tendency we ought to recognize.

And later:

Unfortunately, Sen. McCain and some others are all too willing to trust President Obama — or whoever succeeds him — to be judge, jury, and executioner.

Actually, Obama might be just mean enough to proscribe and summarily execute. Or if he is not, then someone else might be. Did Lucius Junius Brutus, founder of the Roman Republic, ever imagine that a Marcus Antonius would rise to power and write death warrants on a hundred Roman Senators?

That’s the key. That’s why Rand Paul held the floor of the Senate for 12 hours and 52 minutes. Rand Paul is a modern Marcus Porcius Cato – Cato the Younger, that is. Actually his contemporaries called him Cato the Loudmouth (Volubilis). Maybe that’s just what we need.