For just shy of 13 hours on Wednesday and into Thursday morning, Senator Rand Paul held an honest to God filibuster. Not one of those namby-pamby fake filibusters where all you have to do is get 40 senators to say, “Yeah, yeah, we’re having a filibuster,” and then they all go on with their lives. No, we’re talking actual talking, standing, no peeing, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington filibuster. It was beautiful.
Why did the good Senator endure this? He is asking for clarification from President Obama: Is it legal to kill an American citizen on U.S. soil when there is no imminent threat. As Sen. Rand tweeted, “They shouldn’t just drop a hellfire missile on your café experience.” Wait, what? Yeah, apparently there is some question about that, and rather than quickly clarifying that, the White House is mum. (The phone number for the White House is 202-456-1111 if you want to give them a nudge.)
So they talked. I didn’t watch all of it, but I had it on for the last 6 hours or so and it was an education. My oldest daughter was fascinated and finally dragged herself away sometime after 10:00 p.m. One of the things that impressed me was that it really was a great lesson in liberty, in the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers, and the rights of citizens. A rough transcript is here (yeah, right, you’re going to read all that), but here are a few quotes:
“Has America the beautiful become ‘Alice in Wonderland’? When I asked the president can you kill an American on American soil, it should have been an easy answer — an unequivocal no. But his answer was, ‘I haven’t killed anyone yet and I have no intention of killing Americans, but I might.’” Sen. Rand Paul
“I have allowed the president to pick his political appointees…But I will not sit quietly and let him shred the Constitution.” Sen. Rand Paul
“I would suggest that this is a reflection of the fact that the American people are frustrated. They are frustrated that they feel too few elected officials in Washington stand for our rights, are willing to rock the boat, are willing to stand up and say the Constitution matters and it matters whether it’s popular or not. It matters whether my party’s in power or another party is in power.
The Constitution matters, our rights matter, and so many Americans I think are frustrated that they view elected officials as looking desperate to stay in power, desperate to be re-elected, desperate to do everything except fight for the Constitution and fight for our liberties…” Sen. Ted Cruz
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“That takes me back to another modern-day poet by the name of Jay-Z in one of the songs he wrote: “It’s funny what seven days can change. It was all good just a week ago.” Well, I don’t know if it was all good a week ago, but I can tell you that things have really changed, because if the President was George W. Bush, and this was a question being asked of him, and his response was the silence we’ve gotten, we’d have a very different scenario here tonight except that I actually believe the Senator from Kentucky would be on the floor making the exact same argument he’s making.” Sen. Marco Rubio
“Let me give you some advice: Keep some water nearby. Trust me.” Sen. Marco Rubio
“When our soldiers go off, when I talk to them, they talk of fighting for our Bill of Rights; they talk of fighting for our Constitution. They don’t think they are going off to conquer any people. They truly believe and they honestly appraise that they are fighting for our Bill of Rights. So that’s why I see this as somewhat of an insult to our soldiers to say that – and to insinuate somehow that the Bill of Rights just isn’t so important, that our fear is going to guide us away or take us away from something so fundamental and so important. But I think Americans do realize that the protections of having a jury trial are incredibly important and that assessing guilt is not always easy when you’re accused of a crime. I think that Americans do know that it’s really important to try to get it right when someone is accused of a crime, and so I think the American people are with us in wanting to find these answers, and you’re right that this isn’t ultimately about the nomination. This is about a question that’s bigger I think than any individual, and it’s about something that our country was founded upon, and that’s basically the individual rights.” Sen. Rand Paul