At the Guardian, Glenn Greenwald makes a number of important points about the reaction to US Senator Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster against John Brennan’s nomination as head of the CIA. From Glenn Greenwald at Comment is Free
Last week’s 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s confirmation as CIA director by GOP Sen. Rand Paul was one of the first – and, from the perspective of media attention, easily among the most effective -Congressional efforts to dramatize and oppose just how radical these Terrorism-justified powers have become. For the first time since the 9/11 attack, even lowly cable news shows were forced – by the Paul filibuster – to extensively discuss the government’s extremist theories of power and to debate the need for checks and limits.
All of this put Democrats – who spent eight years flamboyantly pretending to be champions of due process and opponents of mass secrecy and executive power abuses – in a very uncomfortable position. The politician who took such a unique stand in defense of these principles was not merely a Republican but a leading member of its dreaded Tea Party wing, while the actor most responsible for the extremist theories of power being protested was their own beloved leader and his political party.
Some Democrats, to their credit, publicly supported Paul, including Sen. Ron Wyden, who went to the Senate floor to assist the filibuster. Sens. Jeff Merkley, Pat Leahy and (independent) Bernie Sanders all voted against Brennan’s confirmation, citing many of the same concerns raised by Paul. Some prominent progressive commentators praised Paul’s filibuster as well: on CNN, Van Jones – while vowing that “I love this president” – said “Sen. Rand Paul was a hero for civil liberties” and that “liberals and progressives should be ashamed.”
But most Democratic Senators ran away as fast as possible from having anything to do with the debate: see here for the pitifully hilarious excuses they offered for not supporting the filibuster while claiming to support Paul’s general cause. All of those Democratic Senators other than Merkley and Leahy (and Sanders) voted to confirm the torture-advocating, secrecy-loving, drone-embracing Brennan as CIA chief.
Meanwhile, a large bulk of the Democratic and liberal commentariat – led, as usual, by the highly-paid DNC spokesmen called “MSNBC hosts” and echoed, as usual, by various liberal blogs, which still amusingly fancy themselves as edgy and insurgent checks on political power rather than faithful servants to it – degraded all of the weighty issues raised by this episode by processing it through their stunted, trivial prism of partisan loyalty. They thus dutifully devoted themselves to reading from the only script they know: Democrats Good, GOP Bad.