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.
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:
Carney says that Obama does not have the authority to use a drone on an American citizen on American soil not engaged in hostilities.
— Byron Tau (@ByronTau) March 7, 2013
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.