We should all be thanking Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky for covering our asses for his thirteen hour filibuster on Congress yesterday.
Paul was blocking the nomination of John Brennan, up for CIA Director, but took the opportunity to demand an answer as to whether the President could use drones to kill American citizens within our borders. The question sounds ridiculous on the surface, but Paul asked the questions six weeks ago and got a rambled, hypothetical, “kinda-sorta yeah” answer from the Attorney General.
It has been far too long since Congress has inspired the country. Paul was a trending topic on Twitter for much of his nearly-thirteen hours, a rare feat for a Republican politician who isn't being made fun of (see Graham, Lindsey). His Libertarian values and flair for the dramatic forced the discussion on the American public, and reinvigorated the lost art of the filibuster.
John McCain got his two cents in afterward. His sentiment that Paul promoted fear within America by pitting this as a remotely realistic possibility bore some truth. But then he returned to promoting the same old war-mongering tactics, saying we should, instead, be fearful of the terrorists “hell-bent on destroying us,” and we should use the drones on them. As if that's helping build relations, understanding or trust between the two cultures. McCain missed the point.
We haven't even had the discussion about drones themselves yet, let alone whether they can kill an American citizen. That's not a question we're supposed to have to ask. It should have been the first thing covered. Even the movie business knew that.
President Obama didn't make much of a secret over the fate of Anwar al-Awlaki; and Samir Khan. Khan wrote a 2010 article titled “I am proud to be a traitor to America.” They weren't going to win over any juries.
But they also killed Awlaki's 21-year old son, who might actually be 16 , without due process. That is a dangerous precedent to set without asking anybody for permission to set it. By the way, Brennan, who was ultimately approved by the Senate, is also the guy in charge of coming up with the drone policy. We shouldn't have been in a rush to approve his nomination. Why did we give a man who may have abused his power more power?
The current administration has tried to obfuscate drone usage as much as possible. The whole “ military-aged male” description for enemies is still alarming. Check out how many drone strikes have been reported in Pakistan. Have you seen Dronestagram? Why are we allowed to fly these things into Yemen or Somalia to kill people? Did we declare war on those countries? These attacks are real, underreported and vastly misunderstood. It is shameful that the discussion is only beginning to take place because Ron Paul's son spoke for thirteen hours.
This is what happens when a party falls in love with its leader. Where are the questions from the left? Senator Marco Rubio raised an excellent point while assisting Paul during the filibuster, asking what the reaction would be like if George W. Bush were still President? Far more hostile and pointed. For that, the press also deserves a slap on the wrist.
We take up too much time talking about other issues and drones haven't had space to enter the conversation. That Carnival cruise looked disgusting. And the sequester? Imagine if we hadn't avoided that.
The President also deserves criticism for this issue. He should be the one directing the conversation, not hiding from it. That said, there also weren't enough questions from the left to make it an issue – living up to the sneering allegation from the right that liberals don't have any balls.
It's difficult to stand up to someone who has inspired liberals and birthed a progressive movement. It's hard to imagine the same man who cried about Sandy Hook victims also sending unmanned robots to kill our enemies while overlooking civilian casualties. President Obama is the dream of the left.
Unfortunately, folks might be oversleeping.