I hope I'm not too late to the fight.
FOR THE RECORD:
Filibuster: In a March 12 column about
was identified as (R-Ky.). He is from South Carolina.
Last week, freshman Sen.
In other words, if an American member of
Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. had replied with a muddled yes and no in a letter to Paul: The White House "has no intention of doing so," but it would not rule it out if it was deemed necessary by the administration.
That response gave Paul the opening he needed for his filibuster. "When the president responds that 'I haven't killed any Americans yet at home and that I don't intend to do so, but I might,' it's incredibly alarming and really goes against his oath of office."
But here's the interesting part. A Democratic president, who made his bones as a holier-than-thou antiwar candidate, clings to his constitutional right to rain death from the sky on American citizens drinking Frappuccinos, and conservatives attack the Republican senator who complains about it.
While I agree with much of the substance of Paul's critics, I'm at a loss as to understand all the outrage.
As a constitutional matter, it's true that when America is officially at war, the president, as commander in chief, can kill the enemy where he finds them. If during
Holder sent Paul a second letter that said the president did not have the authority to off an American on U.S. soil who was "not engaged in combat." This satisfied Paul, but it conjures the image of a loudspeaker on a drone announcing seconds before impact: "You in the Members Only jacket, this is formal notification you are an enemy combatant. Prepare to die."
I think many Americans recoil at death-by-drone. There's something creepily dystopian about this antiseptic way of war. We wouldn't be having this argument about whether a national guardsman or an
But the novel nature of drones underscores an important point: The war on terror is not World War II, and Al Qaeda isn't a uniformed enemy. It's a confusing new kind of conflict, and that's why a reminder of our core principles — our American dogma — strikes me as a good thing.
Unfortunately, the dogma that dogma is a bad thing is an old fad in America. "Dogmas are not dark and mysterious,"
A fundamental, dogmatic faith in the Constitution is a good thing. A dogmatic view that the president isn't a king but a servant of the people is a good thing. A dogmatic insistence that the president give a member of
Paul's filibuster briefly illuminated some very basic core convictions during a long gray chapter in international affairs, a chapter that isn't over yet, either. I can think of worse ways to waste 13 hours of the