Last week a man stood up in front of the United States Senate and spoke passionately for nearly thirteen hours, and while he spoke, as his voice began to grow hoarse and America turned its attention momentarily toward those hallowed chambers in the District of Columbia, nothing continued to happen.
Nothing has a way of happening in Washington these days. Nothing happens, depending upon the particulars of the occasion, with either style and decorum or with bluster and bombast, but be assured, nothing is happening.
These last few years, nothing has been the special provence of the U.S. congress, which is why, when a man stands up from the midst of that august body and announces that he will bring the business of Congress to a halt through the power of the filibuster, by the gods that’s the kind of thing that grabs peoples attention! We never expected to see the Congress move faster, but just imagine what it would take to actually slow it down even further. Would such a thing even be possible?!
Let me take a step back to explain.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock this last week, or just had better things to do, you likely already know that the courageous hero in this story is Senator Rand Paul. The subject of his glorious stand was the possibility of Drone strikes against American citizens on American soil.
In particular, he seems to be somewhat vexed with this letter which he received from Attorney General, Eric Holder. I’ll let you read the letter if you like, and I’ve taken the liberty of circling the bit which has Senator Paul in such a conniption.
Now over the years I have often heard people complain that the good folks we elect to Congress have a bad habit of not fully reading the bills that they are called to vote on. In light of recent events, I begin to wonder if that habit is really such a bad thing.
In what delusional paranoid’s nightmare interpretation does…,
“The President could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.”
“I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court. That Americans could be killed in a cafe in San Francisco or in a restaurant in Houston or at their home in bowling green, Kentucky, is an abomination.”
—from the transcript of Senator Paul’s opening speech
It’s frankly no wonder that the administration took a while to respond to that.
How do you frame a rational response to irrational arguments which have almost no resemblance to what you actually said? Do you use smaller words, maybe? Perhaps you present your response in crayon drawings done in soothing colors?
Am I being unfair in my critique of the good Senator from the State of Kentucky? Does my underlying suggestion that he is a paranoid buffoon strike you as offensive?
I’m okay with that, because the Senator offends me.
He has the gall to stand there for hour after hour patting himself on the back for “protecting American lives” when that hypothetical American of his, sitting in a cafe in San Francisco, stands a vastly superior chance of being killed right where he sits, by random gun violence, than by a targeted strike launched from some government drone. Yet the Honorable Rand Paul will fight tooth and nail against any legislation that might make that fate less likely.
As I write this, more than 2,590 American men, women and children have been killed in gun violence, just since the Newtown massacre on December 14th of last year.
Who, may I ask, is filibustering for them?
Which starry eyed politician will throw himself into the cogs of government and bring the whole miserable works to a shuddering halt until we have an answer to THAT question?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
The frightening thing to me is how many of the people I know honestly think this guy is a hero. “Oh, he filibustered the Senate until he got an answer!” “Rand Paul is the only one willing to stand up for the Constitution.” “Rand Paul will be the best choice for President in 2016.”
He’s not a hero. He’s a freaking Don Quixote wannabe.
I’d actually feel better if Don Quixote was a candidate in the next election. Sure, he’s a fictional character, but I’m pretty sure you stand a greater chance of being killed by a windmill on American soil than you do a drone attack, and our old friend Alonso really knows how to deal with that kind of threat.