Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) said he didn't start his day with a plan to mount a filibuster, and hadn't even worn his most comfortable shoes to work.CNN reports:
But when opportunity knocked on Wednesday, the Kentucky Republican started talking and didn't stop until nearly 13 hours later, logging a historic, old-time Senate filibuster.
The decision to take to the Senate floor with questions on drones was a last minute one, Sen. Rand Paul explained in an exclusive interview with CNN Thursday, detailing how he wasn't totally prepared to remain standing for thirteen hours straight.But Jesse Benton, adviser to Mitch McConnell and who is married to one of Ron Paul's granddaughters, told National Journal:
"We had no plan and I had the wrong shoes on, my feet were hurting the whole day," Paul told CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, adding that since the Senate leadership typically decides who speaks on the Senate floor, it's often difficult to begin a traditional filibuster.
"One of the reasons filibusters don't occur is because they carefully guard the floor from letting it happen. And it was left unguarded," he said.
Eleven days before he spent nearly 13 hours filibustering on the Senate floor, Sen. Rand Paul floated his idea to block the president’s pick for CIA director to one of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s top political strategists over a Saturday night dinner of lasagna and red wine at his home in Bowling Green, Ky.[...]After the dinner, Benton reached out to McConnell’s office, detailing Paul’s plans and his hopes for support. An important line of communications had been opened.NJ goes on to report:
Paul had personally informed some Republican senators that he planned to mount the talking filibuster the day before over lunch, said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., a member of the GOP leadership.[...]McConnell, meanwhile, put out the word to the conference that he was supportive of Paul’s efforts.So was it a spontaneous event, a display of reckless courage, a fight for liberty? Or was it planned more than a week in advance, with the stamp of approval of GOP leadership?
Rand Paul needs to answer a very important question, who is lying, Rand, himself, or did Jesse invent out of thin air a dinner and the discussion?
And if Rand touched base with Republican Senate leader McConnell's camp more than a week in advance of the filibuster, who else did he touch base with? Was the neocon support for him as "spontaneous" as McConnell's?
Bottom line: The Rand Paul filibuster appears to be a brilliant, carefully planned operation. Not the spontaneous event that Rand suggests.
The big question remains, who suggested the idea to Rand? This filibuster was a master chess move. It was likely developed at very high levels. It struck at multiple chords at the same time.
1. It threw a bit of sand in the eyes of the administration over drones, without really causing any damage to the drone program itself.
As Will Grigg has pointed out, when necessary this administration, or a future administration, will interpret "combat" anyway it needs to, when it decides to use drones in the US.
Glenn Greenwald in a tweet this morning seemed to suggest the same thing:
Until we know how the OLC memos define "engaged in combat", Holder's letter to Paul tells us nothing meaningfulAnd, of course, drones still fly and attack on foreign soil.
2. It pushed to the side dead wood, e.g. John McCain and Lindsey Graham. That's why they are furious with Rand. This is not about ideology (as witnessed by the massive support by neocons of Rand's filibuster). This is about who will grab the power and lead the Republican party.
3. It moved many in the libertarian, Ron Paul camp, who were before the filibuster suspicious of Rand, into vocal Rand supporters, despite the fact Rand did nothing of any value.
As I wrote yesterday, before I became aware of Jesse Benton spilling the beans:
Folks, this kind of stuff doesn't happen by accident.Rand likely reached out to neocons before the filibuster, just like he reached out to Republican leadership. That is, if it wasn't a top level neocon, who planted the idea with Rand in the first place. Like I said yesterday:
Neocons are not out there with lanterns looking for honest and principled men. They are looking for men who will advance the neocon agenda.The early support of the filibuster by neocons from Jennifer Rubin to Charles Krauthammer reveals much.
And Republican leadership in general was behind Rand's move. Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, put out an early tweet in support of Rand:
This all points to the fact that neocons and the establishment trust Rand, not a good thing. They obviously think they can mold him. Or do you think Rand is not going to take the call of the very sophisticated operator who planted the filibuster idea in Rand's head?
Here's a warning to libertarians who have been swept away by the excitement of the filibuster: That's exactly what it was designed to do. Forget the emotional high and think about what was really accomplished (nothing) and why the Republican establishment and the neocons are supporting Rand here. They have not suddenly become men of principle that are trying to think of a way Ron Paul can play a bigger role in the GOP, but it does appear they are thinking about that in relation to Rand. Not good, guys. Not good.