The PJ Tatler

In Praise of Rand Paul (for Now)

Senator Rand Paul is not my first choice for the GOP nomination next year, but you have to give the man props for sticking it to his fellow Kentuckian, the loathsome Mitch McConnell:

The sleepy United States senators thought they were done voting. But then, around 1 a.m. on the Saturday before Memorial Day, Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky and presidential candidate, marched spryly to the Senate floor to let it be known that, no, he would not agree to extend the federal government’s bulk collection of phone records program. Not even for one day.

With that, Senator Mitch McConnell, a fellow Kentucky Republican who only a few hours before was ebullient with the passage of a major trade package, was reduced to ordering his colleagues back to Washington next Sunday to try again to prevent the act from expiring.

The unexpected legislative collapse on the Senate floor, and Mr. McConnell’s morose departure, pointed up the quandary that has emerged since Republicans took control. They have had successes, like passage of the hard-fought bill that could pave the way to the largest trade agreement in a generation and a bill to give Congress a voice in the Iran nuclear negotiations. And more senators are allowed to try to influence legislation through amendments, which Mr. McConnell’s Democratic predecessor as majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, prevented.

But as senators raced for the airport on Saturday after a six-week session that ended in disarray, they left behind a wreck of promises made by Mr. McConnell on how a renewed Senate would operate. Mr. McConnell has found himself vexed by Democratic delaying tactics he honed in the minority, five presidential aspirants with their own agendas and a new crop of conservative firebrands demanding their say.

Gee, that’s too damn bad. The odious McConnell, whose defeat everyone should have been rooting for in his re-election bid last fall, has double-crossed conservatives time and again, and if Sen. Paul is making his life miserable, good for Sen. Paul. But, hey — it’s not like the loathsome McConnell doesn’t have some friends and allies. Here’s one now:

With another Republican presidential aspirant, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, visibly rolling his eyes, Mr. Paul and his allies took to the Senate floor around 1 a.m. Saturday to object to a series of brief extensions proposed for the Patriot Act: seven days, four days, two days, even one day. That bit of theatrics came in large part because Mr. McConnell’s vaunted restoration of the committee process had so badly broken down.

Translation from New York Times-speak into English: the Republicans can’t govern!