The Rand Paul filibuster continues to resonate, and to shake up party politics with hints of a new antiwar coalition. Arianna Huffington urges the lib-left to celebrate Paul’s intervention, and to discredit the national-security strain inside the Democratic Party. She went on Bill Maher’s show and he supported drone strikes, even if he agreed they were overused. She responds:
We need to stop framing the debate as a question of national security vs. human rights. Those in favor of drone strikes have simply assumed for themselves the national security position. From their perspective, it’s unquestionable that drones make us safer, so those arguing against them a) don’t care about protecting us, and b) must come up with some other — and softer — rationale for their opposition. The problem is that this line of reasoning just isn’t true.
Yes, there are certainly human rights grounds on which to oppose our current drone policy, but let’s leave these aside for the moment and focus on the national security grounds — i.e. that the use of drones in fact creates more enemies than it eliminates.
So, yes, if I were president… my paramount concern would be protecting Americans from “the bad guys.” And that’s why our current policy is so terrible. And that’s also why it’s important not just to continue the debate from last week but to widen it.
Huffington says, powerfully, that if Obama sees his own children in Trayvon Martin, he ought to be able to see his children too in the faces of 176 children killed by our drones.
But at the Nation, Rick Perlstein insists that Rand Paul is a kook. There is not a word to say about drones in this piece, beyond the pun that Paul was droning.
conservatives have always been at war with Eurasia’s spy apparatus. Or Eastasia’s. Or Oceania’s. When it happens to be run by Democrats, I mean.
And at Alternet, Adele Stan says progressives must not go near Rand Paul, his politics come from the same poisoned well as George Wallace’s segregationist third party.
I think this is a grave error. When did populism cease to be an element in leftwing politics? George Wallace was explicitly racist; I did not hear one racist word in the 2 hours I listened to Paul; I heard him honoring the antiwar movement of the 60s. Rand Paul is sounding a lot of the antiwar feeling out there, that Walter Jones of North Carolina also sounded; Jones’s epiphany came from signing condolence letters to constituents whose children had been killed in our useless wars. Does the elite left have any connection with those families? Shouldn’t it?
One of the problems with eliminating the draft is that the affluent had no skin in the game, and there would be no mass protests. As Andrew Bacevich wrote:
Especially among the affluent and well-educated, the notion took hold that national defense was something ‘they’ did, just as ‘they’ bused tables, collected trash, and mowed lawns.
I see that Glenn Greenwald has been all over the partisan framing. He has a great column here on progressives coming up with excuses not to embrace the Rand Paul filibuster, and on progressives mouthing the national-security hokum.
But most Democratic Senators ran away as fast as possible from having anything to do with the debate: see here for the pitifully hilarious excuses they offered for not supporting the filibuster while claiming to support Paul’s general cause. All of those Democratic Senators other than Merkley and Leahy (and Sanders) voted to confirm the torture-advocating, secrecy-loving, drone-embracing Brennan as CIA chief.
Meanwhile, a large bulk of the Democratic and liberal commentariat – led, as usual, by the highly-paid DNC spokesmen called “MSNBC hosts” and echoed, as usual, by various liberal blogs, which still amusingly fancy themselves as edgy and insurgent checks on political power rather than faithful servants to it – degraded all of the weighty issues raised by this episode by processing it through their stunted, trivial prism of partisan loyalty.
Thanks to Max Blumenthal.