Friday, March 08, 2013
What If Party Leadership Seen as the “Old Guard” Can No Longer Maintain Partisanship? - Reid fails to Stop Paul Filibuster, McCain, and Graham blast Paul– Out of Touch and Defensive
John McCain, Graham and Kerry - the Old Guard - image Washington Times
The Jr. Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, has opened Pandora’s Box with his 13 hour filibuster based on the Administration’s vagaries on the use of drones against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. Prior to the beginning of his epic filibuster, the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, did his absolute best to limit the amount of time Senator Paul would be able to speak on the floor, which was quickly shut down. One would think it was a majority of those maligned Republican’s, however, in review of the 15 hour plus video available on C-Span, it appears to have been mutual consent. During the filibuster, Paul was supported by a few Constitutionalist – including Ted Cruz of Texas, Mark Rubio of Florida and Senator from Oregon, Ron Wyden, a Democrat. After the 9th hour, a call went out from the RNC chair to the Republican Senators to get to the senate to show support to Paul. A filibuster of this length has not been undertaken in recent history, and with much emphasis on the basics of civics and the constitution, the public watching the proceedings were treated to a process that has not been seen in decades. In fact, Paul’s 13 hour filibuster, was the 9th longest in history, the next took place in 1954, a 24 plus hour filibuster by Sr. Strom Thurman. In 2010, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders filibustered for 8 plus hours to stall a deal that extended the Bush Tax Cuts (WISTV.com). Therefore, it is a tool used by both sides of the aisle, but rarely and only those who, agree or not ideologically, are committed to their cause. The rigors of the filibuster demand the individual not leave their post in the Senate, they must remain standing throughout. They can stop talking as long as someone asks them a question, of some length to give them a break.
As of yesterday afternoon, the general public was so engaged with the process that the Twitter hashtag, #standwithrand, which began during the filibuster, was still trending at #1 with millions joining, and millions of diverse political backgrounds at that. Aside from the content, it was a first for so many who had never thought to turn to CSpan and watch an event that is normally seen as less than interesting, and found themselves wrapped up in civics!
There were those Senior Members of the Senate, specifically the Republican Old Guard, that did not show up to speak on the floor, rather, heavily criticized Paul pronouncing his sincere filibuster as: “pull(ing) political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in college dorms.”(Politico). Apparently, McCain was not aware that some of Twitter’s newest members were a tad older, as Senator Cruz read the tweets as part of the process, one from a “grandmother who learned how to tweet in order to “stand with rand”. Also of note, those Senators who stood back are also seen by the base of the party as centered more on their own place in the grand scheme of all things Washington than in the actual function of the job their constituents hired them to do. Names that come quickly to mind, Collins, McCain, Graham. Moreover, it would behoove the Republican base if they did have a bunch of “libertarian college students” to help them win an election once in a while. It would behoove the parties to have leadership that would support the efforts of one of their colleagues who could also cross party lines, and find support across the aisle.
Unfortunately, with a Senator like Paul, or his Oregonian counterpart Wyden, one finds that, on occasion, there is the ability to have bi-partisanship – especially when the call to arms is from newly minted Senators, rather that those who have sat in the hallowed halls of D.C. for what amounts to decades. It is basically not the concept or the content of what Paul accomplished in his pushing the White House to respond to his question in a most grudging letter – affirming that the President did not have the authority to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. This was of import in several ways. One it shone a light on the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens denied due process, two, the fact that drone attacks on U.S. citizens within the boundaries of the country were even considered, and three, that the separation of powers was neatly put back in some order.
Paul did more in his 13 hours on the floor than the lot of the aforementioned have done in their rather lengthy careers. Tough.
This brings to mind a host of other options that are available to the people to elect more Rand Paul’s, libertarians, republicans, democrats or progressives, who are relative newcomers to the Senate and go there with passion and conviction representing not the party leadership but the people that sent them. Term limits should be a topic that is on the table, and that has become increasingly clear over the past two decades.
Notes of interest and commentary:
In an interesting piece from NPR on vacancies in the U.S. Federal Courts, as well as other agencies, the blame for the lack of leadership is placed on the Senate Republicans, but stated in this piece that they are constitutionally required to adhere to due diligence. Additionally, the blame is also laid on the President for his recess appointment sand the fact that he has yet to produce nominees. The article also strikes out at the Congers, specifically the Democrat led congress between 2006-2010 that stymied any progress – period. When one understands that the main reasons that nothing happens in both the Senate and the Congress, one looks to the leadership –they are the “old guard”, those who have held onto their “seat” in the peoples house, as a career rather than to serve.
The Washington Post columnist (from a “conservative” point of view) Jennifer Rubin, wrote on the reactions to Paul’s’ successful filibuster, by McCain and company in a slightly different bent. She too asks if there is a changing of the guard, from the McCain’s and Grahams to the younger members, but sees the process of a way in which to politicize – as if what occurred was a political move against the President. Clearly, it was not political in the sense of Republican’s versus Democrats, but in a sense that was purely constitutional. One understands from Senator Paul’s perspective, it would not have mattered if President Obama were a Democrat or Republican, it was Presidential authority, regardless of which party that President preferred. Paul made that clear on more than one occasion. There is a great deal of missing the point, when it comes to new members of the House and the Senate, especially as there is little that the McCain’s, or the Reid’s of the world can do to “reign them in”. They are bi-partisan.
It also makes one wonder, how well the first term Senator from Illinois, now President Obama, would have fared had he been surrounded by peers that were not as heavily vested in government and power, as some of his advisors. (Specifically the old school, silver spooned crowd.) Perhaps, allowed to go it on his own, he may have had a different result when it came to the economy. Yet, it always appeared, that regardless of intent, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, (then ruling the Senate and the Congress, ran with the old school, the very counterparts to John McCain.
Therefore, watch for those mid-terms and the next general to produce more Rand Paul's, Ted Cruz’s, Ron Wyden’s and those who are eyeing a return to a functional government, albeit one that is diverse. Those who wish to maintain the constant drumbeat of partisanship (and that goes for the 501C’s, and other major dividers) may find themselves out on the street.
It is also interesting to note that the U.S. media, lost in its partisanship, and relationship with the current administration, was given the letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to Senator Rand Paul, prior to Paul’s receiving the latter. This leads many to agree with Founders, who questioned the inclusion of a free press in the Bill of rights. It was exactly this scenario that concerned those men who wrote the Constitution, a press that would do the bidding, rather that act as a watchdog, for any administration or political ideology.
Therefore, as the new members are apparently fearless when it comes to defending the Constriction, one might expect a return to sanity in that August Boyd, if, there is an influx of more like-minded men and women in the next several elections. Look not towards the experienced representative or Senator who has sat on the floor on the Congress or Senate for Decades, rather the novice, regardless of political party, who is intent on serving the public. That should also ring true for the Office of the President. One is already hearing old “political dynasty” names being bandied about as potential 2016 candidates. It goes without saying that this propagates the myth that there are true classes in this nation. The elites, who feel the need to protect the “masses”, while lining the family pockets. Although the individual’s intent might be contrary to this thesis, it goes without saying that a return to the citizen holding office, rather than the elites would better serve the nation.