Rand Paul’s Tea-publican Hero-Worship And The Vacancy Of The Stupid Party

This past week saw an unusual amount of media attention focused on a singularly non-newsworthy event. The big story of the week involved a United States senator who droned on interminably without ever saying anything of much substance. That’s about as significant a news item as a plane landing safely in clear weather. In fact, it’s pretty much what every senator does every day.

Rand Paul

However, for some reason, Rand Paul’s soliloquy has captured the attention of the press and an adoring congregation of conservative true-believers. The beatific praise that Paul has garnered exceeds that of nearly every other right-wing idol competing for the limelight. Here is some of what is being said about him since his solo outing:

  • Sen. Rand Paul: Filibuster was victory and blow for freedom
  • Rand Paul’s shot heard ’round the world
  • Rand Paul’s Filibuster: ‘A Stroke of Political Genius’
  • Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky performed a national service
  • Rand Paul’s ‘Epic’ Filibuster
  • New leader of the GOP: Rand Paul
  • Rand Paul, a civil liberties hero
  • Rand Paul’s Filibuster Proves He is the Future of the Republican Party
  • Rand Paul’s filibuster was ‘completely awesome’
  • The Rand Paul Moment Has Arrived
  • Rand Paul filibuster energizes Tea Party against GOP establishment
  • The World Stands With Rand Paul For Nearly 13 Hours
  • Rand Paul a ‘constitutional hero’ for Brennan filibuster

That’s a lot of glory for the dubious achievement of not shutting one’s mouth for thirteen hours. The filibuster was premised on a fallacy having to do with paranoid fears of President Obama advocating a drone strike program in America. There has never been any suggestion of that and when PolitiFact checked into the validity of the charge they rated it false.

Nevertheless, Paul persisted in his quixotic endeavor for a purpose that cannot be fathomed. He succeeded only in tying up the senate for a couple of days when there are numerous other critical matters to be resolved. And the specific matter that he was holding up, the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director, was completed just a few hours after Paul’s filibuster ended with a successful confirmation.

The underlying issue of military drones is a serious matter and deserves discussion. In fact, there are probably areas in which the left and right will agree with regard to their use and abuse. But Paul’s stunt did nothing to further that discussion. To the contrary, it inhibited it because no conversation other than his monologue could take place while he held the floor.

What is not particularly surprising is the affection sent his way for this carnival side show. The GOP is famous for showering plaudits on their most inane spokespersons. They create heroes out of nitwits with nothing to offer but bluster and venom. During the Republican primaries last year there were fleeting leads for questionable characters like Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Donald Trump, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich. They all had temporary moments in the sun when they were regarded as the second coming of conservatism. And they all receded back into relative obscurity after the sunlight exposed their all too apparent shortcomings.

The same sort of ephemeral adulation was offered to one-time objects of idolatry like Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, and Bobby Jindal. They too have lost some or all of their luster. But they represent exactly the same values that are now propping up Rand Paul. Values that have the shallowest basis for admiration. It is nonsense like “death panels,” and birth certificates, and legitimate rape, and electrified border fences, and denial of climate change and evolution, and prohibitions against gay marriage and reproductive choice, that has driven the GOP to its lowest levels of support in decades. It is why Gov. Jindal has castigated his Republican colleagues saying that they have to stop being the “Stupid Party.”

That’s a tall order for a party that has made ignorance a plank in their platform. For that reason it is hard to imagine that Paul’s celebrity will last any longer than any of the other briefly revered rightists. Either a newer, more stridently conservative contestant will supersede him, or he will say or do something that will turn the applause into jeers. And it doesn’t take much, as Gov. Christie learned when he toured the hurricane damage in New Jersey with the President. As a tactical gesture, Obama could deep six Paul’s presidential aspirations by simply proposing legislation that prohibits the use of drones in the U.S. against citizens who are not engaged in combat or treasonous activities. As soon as Paul endorses anything supported by this president his hopes for higher office will be dashed for ever.

As bad as this environment is for Republicans seeking to attain relevance, it is equally disturbing that the media is so easily seduced by the most trivial actions. Paul’s stint as rodeo clown produced nothing he can brag about. He delayed more important matters, ran his mouth off, and preened for press photos. At least Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Smith” kept going until he was in near physical collapse. Paul, on the other hand, only quit because his bladder gave out. That’s not a particularly dramatic ending for the historians who will be composing the account of this episode. Just imagine if Patrick Henry was immortalized for having bravely demanded, “Give me liberty or let me pee.”


14 thoughts on “Rand Paul’s Tea-publican Hero-Worship And The Vacancy Of The Stupid Party

  1. It’s good to see you agree with Sens. McCain and Graham. How cool is that?

    • I think it’s naive to believe Paul or McCain/Graham did anything to further some altruistic endeavor. Paul is looking for free airtime to further his failed presidential bid and the other two are looking to maintain some relevance in their own party.

      The discussion of President Obama’s legal authority to kill anyone is worth having and the aforementioned senators will certainly not mind bloviating because that’s what they’ve relegated themselves to.

      However, the discussion was already under way concerning the legality/constitutionality of the President’s policy. When any of them stand up and say that prosecuting Bin Ladens’ son-in-law in U.S. courts, as we’ve done without a hitch for so many other terrorists, is the way we should proceed, then I might give credence to what they have to say is anything more than self serving.

      • All politicians are motivated by self promotion, I agree. While the discussion surrounding this was already under way, Sen. Paul’s filibuster created much more awareness and buzz than the subject had previously received.

        Of course it was self serving. But certainly Mark wouldn’t have written about the issue except to mock a Republican, and quite possibly increased awareness of the issue as a halo effect.

  2. The stupid question Paul was asking Eric Holder about the drones could have been asked of any weapon in the U.S. military arsenal, which is all at the President’s disposal in his sworn duty to protect the Constitution (us) from all enemies foreign and domestic. Of course the President can use those weapons under certain circumstances in the U.S. Does anyone think Abraham Lincoln did not use every modern weapon at his disposal to quell the traitors of the Confederacy? Why would a modern President be prevented from the same? Holder sent a short letter to the idiot senator from Kentucky which, by his own admission, satisfied him on his stupid question. When McCain and Graham criticize you, for what is an obvious political stunt, you got to know you are and idiot but we are talking about Rand Paul, so I doubt that had any effect.

  3. So Paul is suddenly a ‘hero?’ I’d say he’s about three years too early. Given the short memories of the GOP (they can barely remember what they were FOR yesterday, let alone by the time Boehner or McConnell ever lets them vote on something.) I bet Cantor and Ryan are just quiet because they wished THEY had acted stupid for so long, because it got lots of press. Frankly, the biggest story this week should have been the surprise from the GOP who dined with Obama at what they have NOT been told by their ‘leadership.’ NOw there’s an issue that should be discussed.

    • Using your measure of how congressional memories work and getting permission to vote on stuff, Senate Democrats probably don’t even remember where the Senate chamber is. Harry Reid hasn’t exactly been the bastion of “hey, let’s vote on stuff so we can get some things done!”.

      • Given the republican abuse of the filibuster, I’ll bet Reid is kicking himself for not changing the rule. As a progressive, I was not pleased he trusted them to all of a sudden be reasonable and want to participate in governing this country. I recently found out Durbin voted against changing the rule as well and now he’s lamenting such a foolish decision.

        The obstructionist behavior of the republicans seems to have rendered the senate obsolete. They sure aren’t the “hallowed body” Reid and McConnell think they are. Anyone who thinks the republicans are doing Americas business have a skewed view of how well they are being served.

        • You do know that the people and constitution come before party – right? I think you have it backwards – putting ideology before constitution – he did the right thing and it’s killing you that some progressive didn’t do it instead of a republican.

            • Do I really need to point it out to you??? You’re frustrated that the democrat PARTY didn’t restrict the rights of the minority party more so as to limit their ability to have a say??? And of course one the SPECIFIC FILIBUSTER actions you are bitching about happened to be an actual spoke filibuster to defend civil rights and the bill of rights against an overreaching executive branch on the use of drones on Americans on American soil. Like I said – you see party first, the people and our rights come later.

  4. Good points well put. Paul asked whether “the President has the power to use lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.”

    Holder responded first that the U.S. has not conducted drone strikes in the U.S. and has no intention of doing so and, further, the President rejects the use of military force where law enforcement authorities in the country provide the best means of incapacitating a terrorist threat. He next noted that Paul’s question thus is “entirely hypothetical [and] unlikely to occur” and responded: “It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the [U.S] for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the [U.S.]”

    Duh! The Civil War is a case in point.

    Yet Paul grandstands, during which he concedes Holder’s point and suggests that is not the question he had in mind: “Nobody questions if planes are flying towards the Twin Towers whether they can be repulsed by the military. Nobody questions whether a terrorist with a rocket launcher or a grenade launcher is attacking us, whether they can be repelled.”

    Holder then responded: “It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: ‘Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?’ The answer to that question is no.”

    Again, duh! And, so it seems, Paul and Holder agree–on both his general and specific questions.

    Yet Paul grandstands some more–to what end, other than grandstanding for his own political sake, is not clear. In that, given the tenor of some comments, he appears to have been quite successful. Bully show!

  5. No Steve, really, you needn’t point anything out to me. You’re entertaining at times but you provide nothing of value to discuss. Really, you don’t. You can’t help it, you don’t know anything. You’re a mushroom.

    • I’ve come to accept you progressives really do believe yourselves to be superior to everyone else, so the idea that you would ever stand up for something other than your ideology of state first doesn’t surprise me. At least some democrats are standing up and at least asking questions:


      I expect very little out of progressives when it comes to liberty and freedom, so your response is as expected. It’s an area that I thought we may have some common agreement, but I guess I’m wrong.

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