Rand Paul filibuster fallout: Are Democrats his real allies?
By taking on the White House over its drone policy and civil liberties, Rand Paul echoed concerns of liberal Democrats. But only one helped him during his filibuster, showing how tribal D.C. is.
Who are Rand Paul’s real allies? That’s a question D.C. political types have been chewing over since the GOP senator from Kentucky's filibuster about his objections to the Obama administration’s drone policies last week.Skip to next paragraph
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In particular, Senator Paul wanted clarification about whether the White House thinks it has the power to target with a drone a US citizen within the territorial US who is not engaged in combat. (“No”, said Attorney General Eric Holder in a letter responding to Paul’s public query.) That’s a question about civil liberties that hits the sweet spot where the progressive left wing and the libertarian right meet.
The US ideological spectrum isn’t always a line. Sometimes it’s a circle. Thus Paul was hailed by one of the Tea Party’s favorite new lawmakers, conservative Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and liberal talk show host Rachel Maddow alike.
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Yet only one Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, stood to help Paul during his hours of talking. All his other helpmeets were GOP, including many who support an expansive definition of executive authority when it comes to national security. What explains that?
In a word, partisanship, according to Georgetown University assistant professor of political science Hans Noel.
The proximate issue on the floor was the Obama administration’s nomination of counterterror adviser John Brennan to be director of the CIA.
“Liberals, especially those elected to office, have little to gain from blocking the president’s choice. Conservatives, even those who might have tolerated a drone program run by a conservative, have much to gain,” wrote Mr. Noel on the Mischiefs of Faction political science blog.