In case you missed it yesterday, Ross Douthat at the New York Times had a fairly positive piece on Rand Paul that stressed the connection between the filibuster and the intra-Republican foreign policy debate. Here is a nice section but the whole thing is worth a read:
Officially, Paul’s filibuster was devoted to a specific question of executive power — whether there are any limits on the president’s authority to declare American citizens enemy combatants and deal out death to them. But anyone who listened (and listened, and listened) to his remarks, and put them in the context of his recent speeches and votes and bridge-building, recognized that he was after something bigger: a reorientation of conservative foreign policy thinking away from hair-trigger hawkishness and absolute deference to executive power.
Predictably, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol panned the filibusterer and thought it was a lot of “sound and fury” (which is rich given Kristol’s boosterism for Sarah Palin who couldn’t hold a candle to Paul when it comes to discussing the Constitution and civil liberties). Kristol’s ire is a good sign.
Paul is no doubt a threat to the big government conservatism and aggressive foreign policy that Kristol and the neocons in the Republican Party have been pitching for decades. There have been other critics of this (failed) approach, but none with the political skills and intelligence of Rand Paul. Let’s hope that Rand surrounds himself with good advisors who keep him away from some of the weirder themes and fringes of the libertarian-paleocon world that his Dad found hard to ignore – because an attractive libertarian realist foreign policy approach is out there that could benefit the Republican Party brand and more importantly the country.