Praising Rand Paul, Huffington and Greenwald decry Dems’ national security creed

on 9 Comments

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.

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9 Responses

  1. Dan Crowther
    March 14, 2013, 12:08 pm

    Well, somewhere along the line “liberal” came to mean “defender of the government”, so it’s no surprise “liberals” find themselves in a tough position over this.

    And it’s also not surprising that many “liberals” bash away at Paul and other “American Libertarians” – the organizing spirit died away long ago. To organize Paul supporters would mean organizing working people, it would mean going to VFW’s and American Legions, it would mean the fractured and disparate identity groups on the left would have to organize along class solidarity lines, so it’s no wonder why the institutional “liberals” bash Paul. I think they realize that the “left” would have a greater influence among “american libertarians” and what you would end up with is pretty much an Anarchist party, an anti-war, pro worker party – that’s way more threatening to establishment liberals then some right winger..

    • ritzl
      March 14, 2013, 3:00 pm

      Great comment, Dan.

    • RoHa
      March 14, 2013, 8:16 pm

      ‘“liberal” came to mean “defender of the government”’

      Thanks. I’ve never understood what Americans meant when they said “liberals”. All I could fathom was that “liberals” were terribly evil and responsible for everything bad.

      Here in Australia liberals are members of the Liberal Party, which is very conservative. (So much so that they could almost make it in US politics.) In the UK liberals are members of the Liberal-Democratic party, which is a vague bunch of wishy-washy nice people.

  2. lysias
    March 14, 2013, 12:12 pm

    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.

    Perlstein seems not to have noticed how many Democrats who bitterly criticized Bush’s national security policies have become silent or supportive under Obama.

  3. ritzl
    March 14, 2013, 12:15 pm


    To riff on the Alabama reference, elites use Wallace as the boogeyman, but it’s actually “Big” Jim Folsom they’re deathly afraid of.

    Folsom crafted a class-based coalition of poor blacks and whites in the heart and peak of the segregationist south (i.e. real issues transcended fake issues) to win the governorship of AL not once but twice (separated by a term, so it was an enduring coalition) in the 40’s and 50’s. He was later crushed for it both personally and professionally, by Wallace, but he did it and it worked for a time.

    People may be slow on the uptake, particularly when they’re spoonfed so much manipulative top-down nonsense, but they do eventually get it. Maybe some new thinking will seep into the policy calculus pretty soon, on drones, war, and so many other issues.

    Thanks for noting this.

    • sardelapasti
      March 14, 2013, 1:45 pm

      ritzl – “People… do eventually get it” …over the Democrats’ dead body!

      • ritzl
        March 14, 2013, 2:36 pm

        Yeah, politically speaking, of course.

        But the elites may not have a choice in the matter if they keep trying to cram down the real and legit feelings of their constituents.

  4. yourstruly
    March 14, 2013, 3:14 pm

    unity between progressives & libertarians on the issue of empire, war & militarism?

    a sure winner

  5. Citizen
    March 15, 2013, 5:30 am

    Here’s a concise article showing how Rand Paul’s filibuster subject and the reaction to it exposes how the Democratic Party is actually a partner of the GOP when it comes to working against a progressive world:

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