John McCain and Lindsey Graham have blasted Rand Paul over his filibuster of the Brennan nomination. Quoting a Wall Street Journal editorial, McCain said: “If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously, he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in college dorms.” Graham wondered why Republican Senators had not been riled up over President Bush’s use of drones. He also said that Paul’s filibuster caused him to change from a “no” to a “yes” on confirming Brennan.
Like McCain and Graham, I was not impressed by Paul’s decision to filibuster. But I’m similarly unimpressed by the “Old Bulls’” critique of their “Young Turk” colleague.
Let’s start with McCain. Wasn’t he the guy who recently rebuked Ted Cruz for making disrespectful comments about Chuck Hagel? Ridiculing Paul and his libertarian supporters, on the Senate floor, strikes me as inappropriately disrespectful.
Paul’s filibuster may have been a political stunt or it may have been a genuine expression of the full extent of his outrage. Perhaps it had elements of both. In any case, McCain should not assume the worst. By doing so in inflammatory language, McCain makes it look like his beef is personal. With McCain, it usually is.
As for Graham, his question — where were Paul, Cruz, and those like Marco Rubio and Jerry Moran who supported the filibuster, during the Bush era — is easily answered. They weren’t in the U.S. Senate.
In Paul’s case, there’s every reason to believe he would have opposed Bush’s use of drones. Consistency isn’t the junior Senator from Kentucky’s problem when it comes to national security.
And what’s up with Graham changing his vote on Brennan in response to Paul’s filibuster? Brennan’s fitness to be CIA Director doesn’t turn on the conduct of Rand Paul. By basing his vote on the filibuster, Graham not only acted childishly, he abdicated his responsibility as a U.S. Senator.
The comments of McCain and Graham fall far short of the “adult supervision” they probably think they are offering Rand Paul.