The contrast is as stark as can be. On one side, Senator Rand Paul holding up the Senate’s proceedings in order to get an answer to a simple question: “Can the President assassinate Americans on U.S. soil who do not pose an immediate threat?” On the other, Senator Lindsey Graham, after exiting a dinner with the President, calling it “paranoia” to even assume the President would use a drone to kill people in the United States, even though the Attorney General on at least three occasions — in letters and testimony — has not only refused to rule it out, but said “it is possible… to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and proper.”
If the Republican Party is to have a future, Paul (and Senators who joined him on the floor like Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and Jeff Flake of Arizona) are it. Old guard guys like Lindsey Graham — a neocon chicken hawk and serial exaggerator — and John McCain need to be swept aside. (For Graham, South Carolinians have a chance to do just that in 2014, and we’ll be helping you push the broom.)
During Paul’s almost 13-hour filibuster, the Twitterverse lit up with thousands of tweets using the hashtag #standwithrand. They mostly praised the fact that finally — FINALLY! — the GOP had a standard bearer (and maybe two or three more) willing to oppose the tyrannical thugocracy of the military-industrial complex, represented by President Barack Obama. Finally, there was a Senator defending the Constitution and the rule of law on behalf of the American people.
Even Senator Marco Rubio — whom I have been especially critical of regarding foreign policy and immigration — took a turn during the filibuster to defend the 5th Amendment. Republicans John Cornyn, John Barrasso, Jerry Moran, Saxby Chambliss, Pat Toomey, Ron Johnson, Tim Scott and Mitch McConnell also dropped in, as did Democrat Ron Wyden, to support Paul.
Unfortunately, too many Republicans were absent. Apparently, Washington Wizard basketball and free meals with the Marxist In Chief were more important to them than liberty and the rule of law. But their absence was not nearly as despicable as Graham’s and McCain’s comments about the filibuster.
According to The Associated Press, Graham said the prospect of drones being used to kill people in the United States was “ridiculous” and called the debate “paranoia between libertarians and the hard left that is unjustified.”
Not to be outdone, McCain, Graham’s handler, went on the floor of the Senate Thursday and condemned Paul’s Wednesday effort as a “political stunt.”
“If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids,” McCain said, adding: “I don’t think what happened yesterday is helpful to the American people.”
Graham and McCain represent the darker elements of the CINO (conservative in name only) faction of the GOP — those advocating total, perpetual war, who see enemies all around them and advocate for and enable fascism while calling it safety and democracy. Whether the lighter or darker elements win out in the internecine war developing in the Republican Party will determine whether it lives to challenge the Democrats in 2016 or goes the way of the Whigs.