Monday, 11 March 2013

Rand Paul’s Mr Smith Moment

When reasonable people remain silent, should we shun a loony who speaks out?

I’m a little disturbed by the mad rush to trash Rand Paul for staging a showy filibuster against Obama’s assassination policy from people who might be thought to harbor some reservations about it. ‘Grandstanding’ and ‘non-existent dispute’ are two prominent terms in David Corn’s entirely typical account for Mother Jones, which strike me as the same sort of half-truth of which he accuses Paul.

The immediate topic of the marathon speech was about whether Obama has arrogated to himself the right to kill American citizens on American soil, and Corn parses the particularities of that, falling back on the Administration’s argument that in case of military attack, one retains the right of military self-defense. Obviously.

But there is a very real dispute that goes beyond this misleading example given that Obama has authorized targeted killings of hundreds if not thousands of people, including most notoriously an American citizen not charged with any criminal act and, following that, his 16-year-old son, apparently for the crime of being the guy’s kid.

Those killings took place in Yemen, so Paul quite legitimately wanted to know if Obama thinks he can do the same thing here. Okay, right, Paul’s probably stores saltines in a bomb shelter, thinks there are black helicopters and prays to Ayn Rand at night. Who cares? If corrupt liberals like Feinstein and Schumer refuse to ask these questions, I’ll settle for a wacko.

Paul’s filibuster was a ‘stunt’ from a ‘crass operator’ raising ‘a phony issue’, writes Corn. So how do you really feel about him? But did Paul really ‘distract from the real concerns’ with his action? I don’t think so. As Corn himself writes,

There are real controversies and disputes regarding the administration’s drone policy. The White House has declined to show the public the legal justification for its drone strikes overseas against suspected terrorists who are American citizens, and it has been reluctant to share legal memos on this matter with members of Congress and their staff, thus impeding oversight of these constitutionally dicey assaults. The White House has not answered questions on its general use of lethal drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere.

Yes, there are real controversies and disputes, and you’d never know that from listening to a whole shelf of safe, sane, reasonable and thoroughly cowardly Democrats. Paul shone the spotlight on presidential murders and thereby drew the ire of Lindsey (Pretty Boy) Graham and John McCain, who promptly praised Obama’s ruthlessness. Who’s the real ‘crass operator’?

I think the nutcase from Kentucky opened up a national debate by doing something flashy, showy, grandstandy, opportunistic, partisan, self-serving and also extremely useful. Democrats and Obama Kool-Aid drinkers should take advantage of it and stop sounding like apologists for the dismantling of our Constitution just because it’s being perpetrated by a guy they like.

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