Barack Obama’s basic filibuster mistake.

And it’s a mistake that has little if anything to do with the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director (although having House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell somewhat surprisingly announce that he was opposing cloture on the eventual vote is not going to help Barack Obama any).  It’s also a mistake that has less than you think to do with the question of drone strikes on American citizens themselves, although the administration’s inexplicable unwillingness to simply lie if that’s what it would have taken to shut Senator Rand Paul up is almost… startling. I know that this sounds cynical – but then, I suspect that the real reason that Barack Obama didn’t concede the point is that he was and is fundamentally unwilling to give any Republican a non-reciprocated win at this point.  Paul wanted the point conceded that badly? – Then NO!  Rand Paul doesn’t get it conceded.

So there.

And there’s the basic mistake; because in Barack Obama’s haste to deny Rand Paul one win yesterday the President gave the conservative movement another, larger one: a half a day of articulate, substantive, and satisfying morale-building.  It’s pleasant to see the candidates that you worked so hard to elect – often while being actively opposed by the establishment GOP – demonstrate competence and flair at their craft in public.  It’s pleasant to hear your beliefs and opinions get properly articulated in public.  And it’s very pleasant to watch the Establishment itself back the grassroots’ play – and, make no mistake: Mitch McConnell (whatever else you might think of him) had a perfect chance to shut down the filibuster last night.  McConnell instead backed Rand Paul’s play, stopped a point-of-order bobble before it cascaded into a filibuster-ender, and made dang sure that it was made clear that Republican Senators were lining up to support this thing.

In short: if you – like Barack Obama – are trying to discourage your enemies, then you don’t give them wins. Last night was a win that visibly invigorated right wing online activists all over the country.  It was satisfying.  I kept reading people going on about how nice it was to see their efforts have an effect on the debate – and, yes, it did.  Imagine yesterday if the filibuster had been run by… well, I’ll avoid shaming by name the alternatives to Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz.  On the other hand?  Charlie Crist wouldn’t have been doing what Marco Rubio did.  Not by a long shot – and it was worth it, right there.

So… why did Barack Obama remind us that we’ve actually had some darn good wins over the last two cycles? – Rhetorical question: he did it because he’s not actually all that good at either governing or political street brawling.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: Yes, I’m passing to one side the question that Senator Rand Paul asked.  Largely because the President finally allowed it to be answered:


Now, was THAT so hard, Mr. President? Next time, Obama should just save us all some valuable time and just concede the point early.

PPS: By the way… regular attendees of the RedState Gathering would have recognized a LOT of the people joining the filibuster yesterday.  Something to keep in mind.

14 thoughts on “Barack Obama’s basic filibuster mistake.”

  1. I agree.
    I am not much of a fan of Rand Paul. I will not vote for him in a primary (in a general election, I will), for I am a huge Marco Rubio fan/supporter. I am a Conservative, not a Libertarian.
    But hell, after that epic filibuster, if Rand Paul wants to be president after 2016, I don’t see anything right now that can stop him.

    1. I like Rand Paul a hell of a lot better than I did his father, but I don’t want him to be President, either.

      But, shoot, Rand did all right. AND did it in the context of being a good member of the GOP, too.

      1. I find Ace’s answer to this .. useful.

        I have to confess I have the same suspicion. I do believe Rand Paul is his father’s son.

        But even so, to just dogmatically bark that we should trust the president and the military on every question and assume they’re “acting for our own good” is idiotic.
        I don’t have to like Rand Paul to see that he’s on the right side of this issue ..
        p.s. I hope this burns holes through whatever’s left of John McCain’s soul.

        1. I think we should all agree the time has come for the Old Maverick to just ride off into the sunset. The Senate would be a better place for it and Muslim Brotherhood would be worse. A win/win.

          1. I’d hoped he would decide to quit after his frankly pathetic showing in 2008 …
            Alas, the people of Arizona chose the lesser of two evils in 2010.

    2. well I want him to be president, in fact I endorsed him publicly Nov. 7 of last year. I like Rubio too, but he has to earn it. Ad Paul, Marco is serving…

  2. “I suspect that the real reason that Barack Obama didn’t concede the point is that he was and is fundamentally unwilling to give any Republican a non-reciprocated win at this point. ”
    And this is an improvement over, say, 2011; where he wouldn’t even give them a reciprocated win in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. Which ultimately led to much gnashing of teeth by the President just last week.

  3. This a theological debate for the Left–Obama is their messiah. There will be no reasoning with them. Anyone else see an . . . uncomfortable parallel?

  4. I have to agree with your long post in totality Moe, we are on the same page. But to add to the list, it was satisfying to see the Kos Kidz torn up by so many of their own supporting Paul, to the point a pro Paul diary topped their reco list last night.

    And I had the same thought about Obama. He could have just answered “no” in the first place, while leaving the option to slash and burn if the circumstances required such action. What is that saying? “better to ask forgiveness than permission”? But in the end, the man is who he is, a self styled Sun King.

  5. In a word, hubris.
    At the base, I think it was a reflexive antipathy to the concept of the State having limits.
    Although in Obama’s case specifically, he’s unable to take criticism, and has an “L’état, c’est moi” attitude. I can’t say I’m surprised he let it fester.

    1. Obama has also won points by delayed lancing of boils in the past … birf cerfiticate, anyone?

  6. You nailed it Moe. It was an absolute pleasure to watch our side clearly articulate the basic principles many of us believe. All without having to listen to nasty rebuttal comments and lies about who and what the GOP is. While we’ve had to keep ourselves from the “sin of despair” discouragement certainly has been in the hearts of many of our party. Watching Sen Paul, Cruz, Lee, Rubio, et al gave us an opportunity to believe that all is not lost, that there is hope…

    I’ve worried that Rand would be too much like his father, but if he’ll follow the Constitution, well, it’s not a problem for me. Still, Ted Cruz is my favorite for a future presidency.

    McCain and Graham negative remarks about the filibuster revealed their vanities (mostly McCain’s–Graham just follows), bitter they weren’t front and center in the limelight. God willing, they’ll soon be replaced by others like those who #StoodWithRand.

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