These two approaches to negotiating with the Obama administration produced two different results. Paul demanded an answer from the White House for nearly 13 hours. He held up the administration's agenda and drew the nation's attention to a serious constitutional question. He stood up to the president and triumphed. As Paul told me Thursday, "Getting a response from the White House is pretty good."
Graham gladly provided Obama with access to members of the Republican Party apart from what the president considers a recalcitrant Republican leadership. As a result, Obama won headlines the next day for his bipartisan magnanimity. Graham and McCain kicked off a skirmish inside the party, distracting from the overwhelmingly positive attention generated by Paul's filibuster. Thursday McCain called fellow GOP Sens. Paul and Ted Cruz of Texas "wacko birds." petulantly changed his vote on Brennan to one of support. Leaders like former Speaker Newt Gingrich are picking sides in what didn't need to be an intraparty conflict.
Paul's filibuster shows there may be life in the Grand Old Party yet. Millions of Americans now have a reason to take a second look at the Republican Party. Though he's not a member of Senate leadership, Paul showed that he has the stuff it takes to lead. Fourteen senators supported his filibuster along with 15 to 20 House members who came to sit along the back wall of the Senate in solidarity. Three of the 14 were freshmen senators who delivered their maiden speeches on the Senate floor—a landmark occasion for newbie legislators—in support of Mr. Paul.
He started his filibuster having given no warning to the leadership of his party. Paul did it because he thought it was right, and explained his position using opinion pieces and the Constitution. His stand was clearly seen by McCain and Graham as presumption by a junior senator who needs to know his place. Yet in speaking out, Paul offered a champion to young Republicans who want real discussions on policy. He gave a voice to grassroots conservatives who have been disgusted with a Republican leadership they view as too establishment—too willing to compromise principles to score a deal with Mr. Obama. Paul stuck to his guns, something the McCains and Grahams of Washington consider naivete. Consider the irony of the fact that Graham had threatened his own filibuster if the administration didn't give more information about the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi. Subsequently changing his vote to then support Brennan is the epitome of Washington insiderism that the base detests.
The Senate was as empty as it normally is during Graham and McCain's old-man-bully tantrums on the Senate floor Thursday morning. If they truly cared about the future of the party and what is good for America, they'd have recognized Paul scored a win and kept their egos under wraps.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
The Right Way and the Establishment Way
Anneke Green at US News points out that Rand Paul did things the right way while the establishment did things the wrong way: