- Last Updated: 11:22 PM, March 7, 2013
- Posted: March 08, 2013
For years, Democrats and Republicans alike have been using a cheap version of the filibuster to block nominations or bottle up legislation. So it was bracing to see Sen. Rand Paul remind us of the way the filibuster is supposed to work.
The occasion was the scheduled vote for President Obama’s nominee for CIA director, John Brennan. Paul filibustered because he hadn’t been given an answer to a question he had put to the attorney general: Does a president have the authority to use drones to kill an American on American soil not engaged in combat?
So on Wednesday morning, the Kentucky Republican began talking on the Senate floor. Twelve hours and 52 minutes later, he finally yielded, making his the ninth-longest filibuster on record.
Now, we have our disagreements with Sen. Paul, particularly on foreign affairs and military force. Nor do we share his sense that the US government is preparing to send drones to strike American citizens while sitting at some American café.
But say this for Paul: He did force an answer from the notoriously unresponsive Eric Holder, who confirmed yesterday the president does not have the authority Paul had asked about.
More to the point, Paul showed what a filibuster can and cannot do. The filibuster’s purpose is to allow a senator to ensure a point of view is heard, most valuable when that view is unpopular. In a real filibuster, that senator must be willing to speak on the floor for hours — and accept the political price it may exact on him.
Those filibusters have become mighty rare in Washington. Instead we have the silent version that members of both parties abuse because it costs them nothing.
We doubt Rand Paul persuaded many Americans they were at risk of a drone strike. But he did give us all a lesson in civics.Follow @NYPostOpinion