The Rand Paul filibuster is turning out to be a huge moment. The Kentucky senator hit a populist nerve, even on the left. For instance, Chris Matthews ignored the filibuster the day it happened, and then embraced it the following night, partly at the urging of his own son. I should think the Nation will also honor Paul’s arguments against assassination-by-drone.
On the right, the Rand Paul surge is further evidence of the purge of the neoconservatives. Rush Limbaugh has been all-but endorsing Paul as a corrective to the neocons and their Senate amigos, Lindsey Graham and John McCain. The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf quotes long passages from Limbaugh’s radio show, in which he calls the neocons justly “paranoid” about what is befalling them.
Here’s the substance of this. There is a fear among McCain, Lindsey Graham, and others who favor an interventionist foreign policy. Think of the neocons.Think of going into Iraq and not just securing Iraq, but building a democracy. Nation building, if you will. Think of the outbreak of the Arab Spring and the people on our side who thought, “Wow, this is wonderful. This is the outbreak of American democracy,” when it wasn’t. It was the exact opposite. Rand Paul, they’re asking themselves, is he his father’s son or is he on his own here? They’re worried that he’s his father’s son. They’re worried that Rand Paul is an isolationist. They’re worried that Rand Paul’s diatribe on drones really means that Rand Paul wants to bring the military home and not use it unless we’re attacked. He doesn’t like it being used in an intervention. This is what they fear. And as he succeeds in making a connection with the American people, they are worried, the neocons are worried that they are being undermined by this.
[Friedersdorf: “The talk radio host seems to think the neocons are right to be scared”]
I’ll tell you why. Rand Paul made a connection with the American people. These other people do not. He made a connection. Therefore, he has the ability to influence and motivate people. I’m telling you what their fears are. They thought that Ron Paul was absolute nutcase, wacko. That’s why they’re calling Rand Paul a wacko, ’cause that’s what they thought of Ron Paul. Libertarian, fruitcake, nutcase, isolationist, shut down the US military, speak positively about Islamists, all this kind of stuff. They are afraid that’s who Rand Paul is, and they’re afraid that what Rand Paul was doing with this filibuster was not just speaking out against the use of drones on American citizens on American soil. They’re afraid that Rand Paul is actually setting the stage for building up public support to stop the interventionist usage of American military might and foreign policy all over the world. It’s a fear that they’ve got.