Registered Republicans can at least find some solace knowing that their guys are not as wrong as the Democrats. This consolation should be very small.
Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz did an extraordinary thing today. They stood up and defended the U.S. Constitution. They were not vying for political points or seeking to impress donors. Instead, they behaved like men who have taken their oath of office seriously. Paul held up the confirmation of John Brennan for hours to argue a single point – that the Constitution means something.
Republicans in the House have in the past read the entire Constitution in chamber. Though meritorious, it is a political stunt. What Paul did, with much support from Cruz, was powerful. They said that no man, not even the President, is above the law. The tragedy is that they had to make a stand. The shame is that more Republicans did not join them.
At issue was the use of drone strikes to kill terrorists. Could such a strike, they asked of the Obama administration, be used to kill an American citizen? If so, what of due process and that citizens civil rights? Through Attorney General Eric Holder the administration mumbled. Any student in junior high school should be able to give a clear, succinct answer.
To their credit, Paul and Cruz did not attribute bad motives to the President. They did not attack him personally. They conducted themselves with seriousness and decorum. It was beautiful to watch. What they did do was make clear that our rights are God given, not on loan from governmental authority, and cannot be denied or circumvented by any one man, regardless of the purity of his intentions.
Paul and Cruz may not have said it, but the truth was there. Obama was acting above the Constitution. The President is ignoring checks & balances and denying due process. He is, in effect, acting as judge, jury, and executioner.
It is bold and perhaps treasonous. Yet Obama can get away with it for two reasons. In the first, Obama wagers that Republicans will acquiesce to his power grab if it is cloaked in the language of a strong national defense. Republicans are suckers for anything done in the name of the military. For the cause of anti-terrorism Republicans tolerated abuses by George W. Bush, and are tolerating abuses by Barack Obama. This is a deep flaw of the Republican hierarchy and ought not to be tolerated.
The Democrat flaw runs deeper still.
Democrats were happy to take to the streets and hurl hyperbole at Bush. They smeared instances of abuse across a full spectrum of policy and political disagreements. They did not do this in defense of principle, but for partisan gain. Proof? Democrats have been completely and utterly silent of identical and worse abuses by Obama. In this instance “Democrat” should be understood to mean not just Democrat office holders, but the media, the academy, and all the affiliate interest groups.
Obama has done everything that Bush did. Rendition, Gitmo, indefinite incarceration without trial or charges, the PATRIOT act and more: their policies have been identical in their skirting legitimate Constitutional questions. Democrats respond to Bush as hysterics and Obama as hypocrites.
With the drone strikes, and infamous Tuesday “kill list” sessions, Obama has done more damage to civil liberties, and I daresay, civil rights. Paul and Cruz should be applauded for their conviction. Theirs will be, I fear, a losing, lonely fight, but most of the best fights are.