Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is on the Senate floor conducting an actual, talking filibuster of the CIA nomination of John Brennan as a means of protesting the president’s drone policy, specifically Obama’s refusal to rule out use of drones domestically.
I don’t have a constitutional aversion to the use of drones overseas. But I do think it’s a horrible idea and unconstitutional for Article III judges to oversee military decisions. I can imagine during another Sept. 11, as Attorney General Eric Holder said, we might have to use a drone to prevent or halt an attack. But the excessive reliance on drones is troublesome from a policy standpoint, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why the administration can’t explicitly say, “Aside from an actual attack, we will not use drones on U.S. soil against U.S. citizens.”
All that said, there are other reasons for filibustering or voting down John Brennan. He has not disclosed the progress on the national security leak investigation. He’s been part and parcel of the effort to conceal the trove of Osama bin Laden documents. The administration has refused to come clean on all the documents and facts surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on Benghazi, Libya.
And yet with all that out there — in essence, the refusal to be accountable to the American people on national security and cooperate with the Congress on legitimate oversight — there is only one senator willing to filibuster. Where, for goodness’ sake, are the liberal civil libertarians? Where are the Republicans (who would filibuster Chuck Hagel, but only for show, and only briefly)? Where, for that matter, are the mainstream media and the liberal punditocracy that would be calling for impeachment about now if a Republican president had done all this?
In an actual filibuster (what the Republicans surely should have done in Hagel’s case), Rand Paul has focused attention on his substantive complaints about the administration (some of which I share and others I don’t), and moreover, he’s exposed the rank hypocrisy that has infected the left and the right, but most egregiously the mainstream media.
As to the latter, you would think media critics at established journalistic outlets would be on the warpath regarding the media’s lack of attention to Benghazi, its willing participation in sequester hysteria, and the administration’s nondisclosure on national security matters. (In a Politico piece detailing Obama administration untruths about the sequester, 4 of the 6 examples come from The Post’s Glenn Kessler. Where is everyone else? Politico has been among those shoveling the hysteria stories as ably as the White House press office.)
But the faux media critics are not critics at all. They are, I am sorry to say, as much facilitators of the mainstream media’s hypocrisy as anyone. If they were really doing their jobs, they’d be saying something, if not focusing full-time, on the complete breakdown of an independent watchdog media.
And so it’s come to this: Rand Paul talking all by himself on the Senate floor. On one level, it shows the power of a single senator to make a difference. On the other hand, it is a very sad statement on the intellectual collapse of both the right and the left — and most especially of the media, whose first impulse in this administration is to circle the wagons around the White House.
And as for those pushing filibuster reform — in essence running interference for an administration that wants no push-back from any quarter on any nominee or legislation — they might take a good look at why the ability of the minority to hold up the majority is something we shouldn’t easily cast aside.