Paul, Cruz, and Rubio show hijack the GOP and drag it into the future
Rand Paul’s filibuster shows the GOP what leadership looks like
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Last night, John McCain and Lindsay Graham were feasting with the President. The dinner was designed to give the President and top GOP members an opportunity to discuss the sequester and other budgetary matters. It took place at the toney, five-star, Jefferson Hotel – just a few blocks from the White House. Graham would later describe their meal as encouraging, saying “This is how you solve problems.”
As they sat down to dine Rand Paul was on the floor of the Senate, entering the eighth hour of his epic 13 hour filibuster, fighting for the simple concept that Americans shouldn’t be murdered by their own government.
Every so often, in order to give Paul a break, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio would ask a long-winded question but, otherwise, he’d been speaking non-stop since 11:30 AM. He’d done so without aid of a teleprompter, and he hadn’t resorted to reading a phone book or the Constitution into the record. It was – at that point – essentially an eight hour lecture on the liberty. Paul focused on the administration’s bizarre unwillingness to declare the drone-murder of U.S. citizens, on U.S. soil, unconstitutional and he tore into Eric Holder’s dodgy answers about limits on Presidential power.
He did this again, and again, and again.
In eight hours, he’d done more to fight for the Constitution than Senators like McCain and Graham have in their entire political careers. …and the effort was catching fire.
Conservatives were, as Ted Cruz put it, “blowing up” Twitter, but it wasn’t just the right wingers who were offering their support. Already, the filibuster had become bipartisan when it was joined by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. Left-wing stalwart and Daily Show host John Stewart voiced support during his show. Hacker group Anonymous tweeted their support. The hashtags #StandWithRand, #RandPaul, and #Constitution were trending globally.
The world was watching ...and cheering.
Still, most of the GOP membership was silent. Yes, Cruz and Rubio were on hand to help, but the majority of the Republican Party was, as usual, determined to squander an opportunity. While more “prominent” GOPers were dining with the President, Paul unwrapped a candy bar and kept going.
A few more hours passed and, if you were watching on C-Span, you started to notice more and more faces appear. They should have been there from the beginning but the Republicans had, finally, gotten the message that something amazing was happening. The Johnny-come-latelys, recognizing a PR opportunity, filed in and offered Paul their belated, heartfelt, support.
It only took them 11 hours to do so.
Finally, just before midnight, minority leader Mitch McConnell managed to find his way to the floor of the Senate, so he could tell Senator Paul what a good job he’d done. It was as though the GOP’s past had turned out to shake hands with its future.
“I think it’s entirely appropriate that the senator from Kentucky engage in an extended debate with the support of his colleagues,” McConnell said.
Perhaps it was because Paul had been so vital – for so many hours – that his “superiors” seemed so disconnected. Maybe it was because he’d been fighting for something rather than just embracing the usual Republican go-along-to-get-along strategy. Whatever the reason, the contrast between the two men was striking.
At this point, Senator Paul had been speaking for 12 hours. Yet he still looked sharper, stronger, and more capable than McConnell, who appeared out of touch and half asleep. For the first time in a long time, a Republican was actually leading while McConnell appeared impotent and overshadowed.
Last night, Rand Paul not only offered the GOP a road map to a brighter future, he showed them a few of the people who capable of taking the party forward.
Here’s hoping Obama’s dinner was delicious, because those in attendance represent everything that needs to be left behind.