07 March 2013
Some people say you can judge a person by his enemies. In politics such judgments have limited value since alliances are always shifting, but it probably does help us judge Sen. Rand Paul's authentic he-man filibuster -- he actually stood and spoke -- against the confirmation of the next CIA director that two of the biggest warmongers in Paul's own Republican caucus, Senators McCain and Graham, have denounced him for daring to ask whether the President assumes an authority to kill noncombatant domestic "enemies" with drones on American soil. For Sen. Graham, the question is "offensive" and doesn't deserve an answer from the President or his director-designate. Admittedly, the scenario is a kind of reductio ad absurdam, as was Paul's already-derided analogy with firing a missile at Jane Fonda during the Vietnam war. But if it takes examples like that to know where the government draws the line, then they're at least a start. Paul is not out of line to want to know where the President ultimately draws his line on the discretionary use of drones and missiles against "enemies" and "threats." While some of the Republicans who supported Paul in his filibuster -- one Democrat also took his side -- can be dismissed as hypocrites if they raised no similar questions during the Bush administration, Paul has only just arrived in the Senate and his attitude toward the War on Terror has mostly been that of his father. His filibuster may be a bit of personal grandstanding to help him establish a national identity out of his father's shadow, but based on McCain and Graham's contemptuous outbursts it can't be called a partisan ploy. Paul's domestic policies are abominable, but the filibuster might be one of his broken-clock moments. Even those are right sometimes; whether it's more or less often than Rand Paul you can decide for yourselves.