Rightbloggers Catch Filibuster Fever, Promote Paul, Denounce (or Don't) Drones

tomt200.jpgLast week a Republican Senator filibustered on civil liberties in wartime -- and, get this, he was in favor of them! This remarkable event drew such attention that the filibusterer, Rand Paul, ended the week talking about running for President.

How did our friends the rightbloggers -- who generally think that worrying about the rights of terrorists is something only Democrats and Frenchmen do -- react to Paul's speech? Mostly they loved it, even when they disagreed with Paul's cause.

The nominal subject of Paul's filibuster was the confirmation of CIA director nominee John Brennan, who defended the use of a drone in 2011 to kill an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, in Yemen, where al-Awlaki was allegedly working for Al Qaeda. (Later a drone took out al-Awlaki's teenage son, Abdulrahman, also a U.S. citizen, for which the Administration has not given an explanation -- at least not a good one.)

Some of you will recall these issues were raised a month ago, when the press got hold of an Administration paper on civilian drone strikes, and rightbloggers did as good a job as they could of pretending to be outraged. But none of them had a Senate seat to amplify their performances; Paul did, and he used it to good effect Wednesday last.

Paul was given a great opening by Attorney General Eric Holder, whom he'd quizzed on the possibility that the Administration might use drones to take out U.S. citizen-terrorists on U.S. soil. The AG's answers did not satisfy him, and he requested follow-up; Holder sent him a letter which, while stipulating that such a "hypothetical" situation was "unlikely to occur," conceded that "it is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance" -- such as Pearl Harbor and 9/11 -- that would make such an attack "necessary and appropriate."

Paul then commenced his filibuster of the Brennan appointment and talked extensively about the possibility of domestic droning. The 13-hour performance was what we might call a win-win-win; it got Holder to send another letter, clarifying that it was not U.S. policy to drone domestically; it focused the public's attention on a civil liberties issue on which they might actually take the right side (for, while Americans don't mind drones, they do seem to mind them being used stateside); and it gave rightbloggers a fresh opportunity to embarrass themselves.

Take, for example, Ace of Spades. During the Bush years, there was no civil liberties concern about the conduct of the War on Terror that Spades wouldn't mock. For instance, in his 2005 post, "Treating Terrorists With Dignity and Respect and Other Tactical Mistakes," Spades attacked the lily-livered Democrats who groused about Gitmo: "Do they really imagine that the American public is clamoring for better treatment of self-made monsters who have vowed to slaughter innocent Americans, Jews, and 'non-righteous' Muslims?" he wrote. "...They are playing to the worst segment of their constituensty, the fire-breathers, the professional protestors, the San Francisco Democrats, the America-haters... They are insisting we treat unlawful combatants and actual terrorists BETTER than we'd treat lawful soldiers." (Eccentric typography in original.)

But in his more recent post, Spades admitted, "I still consider myself a hawk. But I don't consider myself a super-hawk. Post-9/11, I became a super-hawk. I'm not one any longer."

Lest you think Obama being president accounts for all the change in Spades' hawk-level, he recalled another time he was less-than-super-hawkish: "I remember the Kosovo air war," he wrote. "I was plenty against the Kosovo air war, because I strongly suspected we were only in it because of Monica Lewinsky."

Spades attacked John McCain for opposing, along with Senator Lindsey Graham, Paul's filibuster, on the grounds that the former POW had an outmoded idea of war -- a "medieval notion that 'honor' is only satisfied when there's a cost in blood" -- which was now endangering "the concept of interventionism itself" by making the country sick of foreign wars despite Spades' best efforts back in his super-hawk days. "If he keeps pushing his No Limits doctrine," warned Spades, "he's going to find the country is now embracing All Limits." By the end of his rant Spades was almost unrecognizable, going on about "the human cost to our boys and civil liberties" like a San Francisco something-or-other.

But rightbloggers had one thing going for them: This time is was them complaining about executive overrerach, instead of the lefties. "For eight solid years, we heard screeching and gnashing of teeth from the Left about how George W. Bush wants to kill us all and eat our babies and of course shred the Constitution through wars based on lies and the horrible PATRIOT Act," wrote ColoradoPatriot. "But in the end, who is it who's actually standing up for these ideals?" Besides, that is, filibuster-supporting Democratic Senator Ron Wyden (whom ColoradoPatriot did not mention), The New Yorker, AlterNet, Mother Jones, Code Pink, The American Prospect, Rolling Stone, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, and maybe a couple of others.

Walter Russell Mead looked forward to the possibility of "a significant Republican and conservative movement for a less aggressive, less global foreign policy." A few years earlier, Mead explained, "the world looked like such a dangerous place that a certain amount of proactive global policy seemed attractive, but with the death of Osama bin Laden the Jeffersonian worldview has gained new support. Al Qaeda looks more like a nuisance than an existential threat... Maybe it's time for the Atlas of the West to take a break." Thanks Obama! Kidding.

Even more interesting, though, were the rightbloggers who did not pretend to be against drone warfare, but nonetheless applauded Paul's speech against drone warfare.

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