As usual, the Founders got it right. Andy quotes Alexander Hamilton, from Federalist 23:
it is impossible to foresee or define the extent and variety of national exigencies, or the correspondent extent and variety of the means which may be necessary to satisfy them. The circumstances that endanger the safety of nations are infinite; and for this reason no constitutional shackles can wisely be imposed on the power to which the care of it is committed.
Senator Paul and his supporters claim to want to impose limits on presidential power. The way to do that, as Andy points out, is through Congress’s Authorization for Use of Military Force, not by mucking about with the Constitution. When and if the world is rid of the terrorist threat, that authorization may be limited or even repealed. We’re a long way from that situation now, alas, as the headlines remind us every few days.
As I say, Rand Paul’s performance was good theater. But it had nothing to teach us about limiting presidential power. What it did tell us, however, was that Rand Paul is pretty clever in creating a national stage for himself. Everyone knows who he is now, which I suspect is exactly what he wants. Why? 2016, of course. It was a pretty cynical maneuver, I think, but politics is not exactly an purist’s pursuit. Rand Paul may have — doubtless does have — many virtues. I would have preferred a less demagogic approach.