The filiblizzard is upon us!
Rand Paul has been talking for just over three hours! But because it’s a filibuster (specifically, against CIA nominee John Brennan), instead of doing what you would usually do when Rand Paul talked for over three hours, which is run screaming from the dinner table, people are applauding. He’s trending on Twitter. He’s waging Droning Warfare on Drone Warfare.
Ron Paul has also been talking for the past three hours about drones and the Constitution without pausing to drink water or visit the restroom, but no one has noticed, because this is his typical Wednesday.
Ever since that moment when America watched “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” as a small child, the filibuster has seemed glamorous and heroic. That movie did for Politicians Talking At Length what the “Lord of the Rings” series did for Hobbits Walking Long Distances. Usually, a politician talking for hours and hours makes for a deeply unpleasant, boring evening. “This isn’t 1830!” you shout, finally. “The Internet exists now! There are alternative forms of entertainment! Newt, please! Don’t you have somewhere to be?” But in this context, it’s heroic!
He paused briefly around 2:57 to allow someone else to talk without relinquishing the floor.
It was just shortly after the three-hour mark that someone made the comparison to Mr. Smith explicit. And we are loving it!
But the filibuster is a noble art. You can become a hero, of sorts, just by rambling on for a long enough period of time. It’s a pity that reform didn’t get off the ground. The threat of a filibuster pales compared to the reality of someone Just Talking And Talking.
Most of us will never be marathon runners or cyclists or Olympians. But we are deeply, deeply capable of going on, at length, about nothing in particular. And to have people cheer us on for doing so? It is almost worth running for Senate.
“I will speak today until the president says, no, he will not kill you at a café,” Paul said. But what about in a box, or with a fox? Why just cafes? There seems to be a fixation on cafes, and really I spend more time in Starbucks and Barnes & Nobles, or on my couch eating found cereals.
Life offers sadly few opportunities to talk uninterruptedly for hours. “Don’t stop talking!” is one of those phrases you almost never hear. “Please, continue! Four more hours! Four more hours! You’re a hero!” Instead, people cough pointedly and try to seize the microphone.
“I don’t care if you’re the best man!” the groom’s mother screams, bludgeoning you over the head with the cake. “Stop talking, now!”
“Tonight has really been magical,” your date whispers, for the eighth time, cutting off your elaborate analogy between Disney villains and the Trojan War. “But I have to go off somewhere and scream for several hours and never see you again.”
But when Rand Paul does it, in this one specific context, it’s riveting.
Among his comments so far, he has talked about reading “1984” in high school, his fears that drones will come swooping by our windows to snoop over our reading material (and, no doubt, sniff disapprovingly, like the people on the subway who catch you with “50 Shades of Grey”), the Constitution and Hitler. Naturally. It is almost impossible to talk for more than two hours about Dubious Things The Government Is Doing without dragging in Hitler. He has quoted Dr. Martin Luther King. The one danger of the filibuster is the same danger that lurks every time you give someone a microphone: the rule of talking that states that anyone given a microphone and sufficient time will make a career-ending gaffe. But he knew that going in. You enter a filibuster at your own risk.
You can watch him live, right here! It’s riveting.
And given the Snowquester, there’s nothing else to do.