Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky captured the national spotlight in a way legislators rarely can. His use of the old-fashioned, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-style, actual speaking 13 hour filibuster lead the national news and even had the Daily Show voicing their support. At issue was the use of drones against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) challenged Attorney General Eric Holder regarding his somewhat vague answer to Senator Paul on this question and got more unnecessarily vague answers.
While I don’t think there really is an issue of this administration seeking to target Americans on U.S. soil with drones (outside of a 9-11 like scenario in which even President Bush ordered fighter jets to shoot down planes with U.S. citizens on board), the coy answers given to the inquiry seemed designed to irritate the senators. Senator John McCain and Lindsey Graham apparently didn’t think the question as to domestic use of drones should have been asked, but judging from the public’s reaction to the Seattle Police Department’s purchase of surveillance drones, their constituents probably have concerns of their own, and the question was not a hard one to answer.
Plus, Paul didn’t freak out or rant, he came across as concerned about liberty and policy. And as far as McCain’s concern that the American People will see this as an abuse of Senate rules goes, when the Daily Show is united with the most conservative voices in the country, I think McCain’s fears can safely said to be misplaced.
Again, I don’t think the filibuster was necessary. I don’t think there is any constitutional question here–only a constitutional certainty. But Rand Paul, for a day, took the bully pulpit power of the presidency and made it his own–and had Mitch McConnell and Marco Rubio following his lead.
Here’s the 2nd most famous filibuster from Jimmy Stewart!