Friday, March 8, 2013

Reason #279: Talking

I'm not even going to get into drones again, as my conflicted feelings on the subject have been reiterated in this space many times, but if there's one point in their favor I haven't already touched on, it was their prompting Wednesday of Senator Rand Paul to mount a 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan's appointment as Director of the CIA. Not just a bullshit filibuster like the hundreds that Republicans have used to delay or stop anything the Democrats have tried to do since Obama took office, but a real, honest-to-god talking filibuster.

The only other person to do this in the past several years was Bernie Sanders in 2010; though it wasn't technically a filibuster, Sanders spoke for eight and a half hours about the disintegration of the middle class in protest of the two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts--you know, the one whose end led to the fiscal cliff showdown just two months ago?

Paul, on the other hand, may not have had intentions quite as honorable as Sanders', who unlike Paul didn't follow up his own talking session by telling Politico mere hours later that he was "seriously" considering a run for President in 2016.

Make no mistake about it--a great deal of Paul's filibuster was bravado and bullshit (at least 51% according to Jeremy Scahill's Twitter feed, which was particularly enlightening on Wednesday given his longstanding disapproval of the Obama drone program), culminating in at least one Hitler comparison, but like Scahill, I think it was a net positive occurrence. Both for the attention it drew to the drone issue and for the renewed interest in talking filibusters, which I've said all along should be the rule as opposed to eliminating filibusters altogether.

The only reason the filibuster should exist is for situations when someone in Congress feels so strongly about something that they're willing to put their personal comfort on the line in front of the American people and risk forever being associated with that issue. Filibustering without the whole world watching you isn't just beside the point of filibustering, it's in direct opposition to the point.

Personally, I think Rand Paul is a moron and I look forward to him and Rick Perry competing for the prize of America's Next Top Dipshit in 2016. But like his father before him, he is nothing if not a true believer, and I'd rather deal with a moron standing in front of my car than a smart person cutting my brake line.

Further Reading

The filibuster: A look at the rise … and rise of this obstruction tool

Bernie Sanders Filibuster: Senator Stalls Tax Cut Deal

Rand Paul: ‘Seriously’ weighing 2016 bid

Twitter - @jeremyscahill

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