Quick Takes on the Day's News & Politics
Read my latest U.S. News & World Report "Thomas Jefferson Street" Blog:
"Women to Watch for 2016 POTUS" (4/04/2013)
"Little Hope for Change" (3/27/2013)
"Republicans Are Right About Dumping Caucuses" (3/20/2013)
"How the U.S. Almost Had a Conclave" (3/13/2013)
"Think Nationally, Act Federally." (3/06/2013)
POSTED MARCH 7, 2013 - SENATOR RAND PAUL'S GLORIOUS FILIBUSTER
At about 12:40AM, Senator Rand Paul ended his filibuster after nearly 13 hours of continuous talking. While I nowhere near watched every minute (I saw about 3 hours) of his speech, I couldn't help but be excited by it.
Standing on tradition and principle, Senator Paul opposed much more than the Obama administration's extrajudicial killings of American citizens outside and potentially inside the United States. He challenged the modern presidency's willful rejection of the idea that a commander-in-chief is constitutionally limited. Many of his arguments were in the same veins as those that I have heard from some of the most reown scholars, like Lou Fisher, David Adler, Robert Spitzer, and James Pfiffner, articulate. (For a starting point on these issues, see: The Constitution and the Conduct of American Foreign Policy and Power Play: The Bush Presidency and the Constitution). Further, he pushed back on the idea that the Senate is (to reverse President Garfield's challenge) merely "the registering clerk" of the President. In short, Senator Paul stood up for separation of powers and civil liberties, making it not only an historic, but also a glorious day in American politics.
The only thing disappointing (though not surprising given the strident partisan loyalty that has become the norm in Washington over this last decade) was that only one Democratic senator (Hon. Ron Wyden of Oregon) joined Senator Paul. Given the topic and the Democrats previously outspoken opposition to President George W. Bush's conduct of the "War on Terror," one would have hoped that there would have been more Democrats who would have put principle before party. As Conor Friedersdorf wrote in a piece in The Atlantic prior to last November's election:
Obama established one of the most reckless precedents imaginable: that any president can secretly order and oversee the extrajudicial killing of American citizens. Obama's kill list transgresses against the Constitution as egregiously as anything George W. Bush ever did. It is as radical an invocation of executive power as anything Dick Cheney championed. The fact that the Democrats rebelled against those men before enthusiastically supporting Obama is hackery every bit as blatant and shameful as anything any talk radio host has done.
There seems little doubt that had President Bush pursued this policy, calls for impeachment would have echoed through the halls of the Capitol. Of course, when Bush was in office, the Republicans were as quiet as church mice about his use of "extraordinary rendition."
Since 9/11, both sides have ceded far too much power to the president and both sides have placed security above liberty to our detriment. We aren't even aware of how much we have lost, or for that matter, how much the terrorists have won because they've turned us into a fearful yet still powerful nation -- a tyrant who threatens all manner of violence and mayhem to prove his potency in the world. Alexander Hamilton so cogently understood: "Let us not establish a tyranny...energy is a very different thing from violence."
And that is why Senator Rand Paul's filibuster was both a good and glorious act. It was a moment where constitutional principles (separation of powers, checks and balances, and civil liberties) were on display. Liberty reigned again.
POSTED AUGUST 20, 2012: Thank you, Mr. Bob Schieffer, for generously acknowledging my article "Campaign 2012 Isn't the Nastiest, Just the Most Covered" on U.S. News & World Report's "Debate Club" blog in your Sunday commentary on Face the Nation (video). I am truly honored. Thank you.
PS: Follow me on Twitter! My handle is @LaraMBrownPhD.
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ADDITIONAL SELECTED COMMENTARY
UVA's "Riding the Tiger" - blog on whether 2012 was a win for Progressives
NCC's "Constitution Daily" - blog on why the GOP looking to change the Electoral is nothing new
US News & World Report - Debate Club - blog on why 2011, as bad as it was, was not the worst
New York Times - Room for Debate - blog on evangelicals and the GOP nomination
US News & World Report - Debate Club - blog on the impact of a Newt Gingrich nomination
New York Times - Room for Debate - blog on the absurdity of a civic test for elected officials
Huffington Post - blog on politicians and sex scandals
New York Times - Room for Debate - blog on an independent's impact on 2012
New York Times - Room for Debate - blog on the Tea Party's longevity
Huffington Post - blog on Bachmann's migraines
New York Times - Room for Debate - blog on Palin's candidacy
New York Times - Room for Debate - blog on "Lame Duck" compromise
Wall Street Journal - PA - Sestak vs. Specter primary
New York Times - Room for Debate - blog on President Clinton & the elections