Lindsey Graham to GOP senators: Funny how you guys didn’t worry about drones under Bush

posted at 4:01 pm on March 7, 2013 by Allahpundit

Via Mediaite, here’s why I said in the McCain post that I didn’t share Mollie Hemingway’s receding cynicism. I trust that Paul would have the same objections to drone policy under a Republican president. I trust that Mike Lee would too. Beyond that, things get iffy. Glenn Greenwald has a point here:

Graham’s the right guy to challenge Paul because he is, in his own way, as nonpartisan on executive counterterrorism power as Paul is. If I understand him correctly, he ends up arguing at the end here that “enemy combatant” status is itself sufficient to justify a drone strike on a U.S. citizen on American soil whether or not he’s carrying out an attack at the time. This is the same guy who once lamented that we couldn’t rein in Koran-burning on grounds that, and I quote, “Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war.” This is not a guy who worries overly much about constitutional niceties when it comes to the military doing its job on counterterrorism. It’d be nice, at least, though, if he managed not to distort Paul’s point in the process. Paul’s not worried about Obama targeting noncombatants; what he’s saying is that there should be special protocols when dealing with “enemy combatants” if they’re American citizens and within reach of law enforcement here in the U.S. His point about Jane Fonda being theoretically targeted is that the definition of “enemy combatant” can be murky and potentially easily abused; to this day, the hard evidence that Awlaki was more than a propagandist and actually an operational leader is classified. Paul’s trying to draw at least one bright-line rule to limit the president’s power to unilaterally execute American citizens: In very narrow circumstances — U.S. citizen on U.S. soil who’s not presently engaged in an attack — you’ve got to send in the FBI to try to pick him up, not a Predator armed with Hellfires to take him down. Compared to the amount of anti-drone agitation in wider libertarian circles, Paul’s request here is actually conspicuously modest. He’s not asking for drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen to end. He’s not even asking, as Graham is quick to note, that Obama quit firing at American-citizen jihadis overseas. He wants some acknowledged limit on executive power and he chose the strongest conceptual ground on which to ask for it.

But look. Graham’s not really worried about Paul’s drone position here. What he’s worried about is a sea change inside the GOP caucus towards the isolationist view of the war on terror. I can imagine the look on his face when he saw Marco Rubio, the great interventionist hope, head to the floor yesterday afternoon to lend Paul a hand. (Rubio’s not going to make it easy for Paul to paint him as the GOP’s next crazed superhawk in 2016.) After 11 years of war it’s doubtless true that isolationism has more fans among Republicans than at any time in the last few decades; to see a member of the Paul family suddenly the party’s new hero must be a nightmare for McCain and Graham. As Ace puts it:

Now it’s possible they’re suspicious of Rand Paul and think he’s carrying water for his father’s Doctrinaire Pacifism but under the false flag of a much more narrow issue on which he has the right; that is, they think he’s trying to move opinion to the Doctrine Pacifist camp in the typical way the Pacifists and anti-American agitators do it, to wit, seizing one one particular grabby issue at a time.

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

So do I, and so I think do lots of mainstream conservatives, which is why Graham’s worries are overblown. The cynicism-inducing question from last night’s Senate insurrection is how many of them mean it and how many of them pitched in simply because it was an irresistible chance to publicly humiliate Obama on a basic constitutional question. The retail politics of it were so winning that I actually thought McCain and Graham might themselves swing by to offer some sort of tepid endorsement of minimal executive accountability. Didn’t happen, but I also don’t think Paul’s stand presages any tidal shift in the Republican caucus. Anyone believe, if O orders a raid on Iran’s reactors tomorrow, the GOP as a body will react with paleocon laments about imperialism and U.S. aggression? Graham’s not really talking to Paul and Mike Lee here (note his persistent backhanded compliments of Paul at the beginning for being a principled libertarian), he’s simply warning the rest that he knows grandstanding when he sees it and is prepared to call them on it if they keep it up.


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If any of these ‘honorable’ people belong to you be certain to send them your love.

DannoJyd on March 8, 2013 at 4:32 AM

Now you know how it feels to live in the People’s Republic of Newyork where not only do they betray you, they don’t even care you are there.

Mr. Grump on March 8, 2013 at 8:43 AM

Graham was willing to philibuster CIA lead nomination until he got more answers on Obama’s utter failure to keep Americans safe in Benghazi…yet insults a fellow Senator for being willing to philibuster over getting the answer from Obama/holder regarding Constitutionality of killing Americans on American soil using drones?! What the h#ll?!

As far as McCain goes – the man was a hero, & I’ll never criticize him for his military service. As far as him as a politician, the guy has been a FLAMING RHINO, conservative-betraying, senile old f@rt who has needed to go for some time!
– Holder refused to answer whether it was Constitutional to use drones to kill Americans on American soil without Due Process – he said doing so was ‘Inappropriate’. Issa pointed out, “I am not asking you if it is a matter of being ‘appropriate’ – I asked if it was Constitutional.” Holder refused to answer until AFTEr Paul’s obviously SUCCESSFUL philibuster!

Seeing as how Graham & McCain got NO real answers/justice from the White House about Fast-&-Furious, the Pension Scandal during the auto bailout, or about Benghazi while Paul forced the administration to finally answer about the Drone Strike on US Soil issue, I would say the ‘score’ is ‘Paul – 1, Graham/McCain – 0′. Perhaps it is ENVY/Jealousy over this Freshman being willing to go ‘Old School’ & SUCCEEDING while their constant caving in, timidity, & RHINO SOP has failed to deliver time and again.

The ‘Good Ol’ Boys’ just got showed up by the youg kid – they are threatened, & this is how they try to beat down ‘new blood’, trying to get them to fall into line with the same old Washington BS!

(BTW, I wrote Graham a letter regarding immigration several years ago. He responded by sending me a letter back saying, “The Immigration issue is an incredibly complicated issue, too complicated for most Americans to comprehend, and one that should probably be left to my colleagues.”
– WHAT AN ELITIST, SNOBBISH PR!CK! Like almost EVERY LIBERAL/PROGRESSIVE, Graham demonstrated how he believes he is a lot more smarter than all of us, that we are a bunch of ignorant rednecks clinging to our guns and religion… who are just to stupid to figure out that securing our borders, REFUSING to give illegals anything, & enforcing our laws – Like Arizona – is more of an answer than doing nothing & granting amnesty. For that answer alone, Graham has proved his arse needs to be ‘shown the door’!

easyt65 on March 8, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Between this and Mccain, I must say I now consider RINOs to be nearly as much a problem as the Democrats themselves. Rand Paul was in the right of it, caught the country’s imagination, and spoke truth to power. We need more stuff like that.

As for these old elephants who enabled the President and stop at nothing to increase executive power — thank you for your service, but I’m done voting for people just because they have an R after their name. I’m tired of old men who promise us the same thing Obama does, just slower. I’ll vote Republican or Libertarian, not Democrat-Lite.

pendell2 on March 8, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Didn’t happen, but I also don’t think Paul’s stand presages any tidal shift in the Republican caucus.

I also think Hostess is not in trouble of going bankrupt.

Varchild on March 8, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Can you say STRAW MAN boys and girls?

It’s not an “isolationist” view of the WOT in the first place. And, in the second place, it is actually the CONSERVATIVE VIEW OF FOREIGN POLICY! That is, until the neo-liberal interventionists and their neo-con counterparts–actually perverted the classical conservative viewpoint of non-interventionism!

So, you have it exactly BACKWARDS. Lindsay Graham and John McCain are global interventionists and neo-liberals/neo-cons; Rand Paul is the CONSERVATIVE.

mountainaires on March 8, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Not everything that appears to be a double standard actually is. It’s especially not a double standard when you’re asked all the time to use the logic that their guy is morally superior to “yours”. However, outrage that the previous administration had done something unconscionable by the current, which threatened to make us another Banana Republic by prosecuting those parties who thought different, demonstrate a different pattern of tolerance for “administrative discretion” which we find, in the words of the 2008 campaign, was “out of line with our values”.

In addition when that president widens the range of something that was considered almost a war crime under the “bad president”, we are allowed to reevaluate. When it expands to “suspected” US citizens and then to US soil, it’s something different.

Axeman on March 8, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Wow Obama must have given them one hell of a dinner date to back stab one of their members like this.. I wonder if they got a kiss at the door or better?

SGinNC on March 8, 2013 at 11:20 AM

Funny how you guys didn’t worry about drones under Bush

Ummm, Lindsey. When did Bush announce he wanted use drones in the US? When did Bush use a drone to assassinate a US citizen?

If he did I’m certain he would have gotten some criticism from some Republicans, especially from the more libertarian wing. Once it became obvious things in Iraq weren’t working out as well as everyone hoped Bush started getting a lot of criticism from people on the right.

farsighted on March 8, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Did Graham name names? If not he needs to name names or shut up. This broad brushed “you guys” is cowardly grand standing.

farsighted on March 8, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Graham can just shut his mouth. Bush never once that I can remember ever suggested he was going to drone ambush american citizens suspected of being terrorists without some due process.

That Graham even hints at this is ridiculous. SC – get him the h*ll out of the Senate.

Zomcon JEM on March 8, 2013 at 11:42 AM

H*ll – I don’t ever remember the idea of drone strikes on US citizens ever coming up at all – due process or not>

Zomcon JEM on March 8, 2013 at 11:44 AM

This is about GOP leadership not principle. Graham and McCain were out schmoozing with Obama and the new leaders of the senate appeared in their place.

People can tell the difference between a real political debate and the rope-a-dope financial-crisis/immigration-crisis/gun-control-crisis theatre that the current “leaders” have been conducting.

It’s way overdue for a GOP leadership overhaul. Thanks to Cruz and Paul, it may be starting.

virgo on March 8, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Funny how you guys didn’t worry about drones under Bush

Ummm, Lindsey. When did Bush announce he wanted use drones in the US? When did Bush use a drone to assassinate a US citizen?

If he did I’m certain he would have gotten some criticism from some Republicans, especially from the more libertarian wing. Once it became obvious things in Iraq weren’t working out as well as everyone hoped Bush started getting a lot of criticism from people on the right.

farsighted on March 8, 2013 at 11:36 AM

And I’m sure that if Bush was asked if it was constitutional to use a US drone against a US citizen in the US, it would have taken nanoseconds to answer “NO!”, not some 30 min. of legalize contortions.
And, for you conspiracy guys, within that question is DogEater’s out. What if he allows a foreign country to use their drones on US citizens in the US?

gonnjos on March 8, 2013 at 2:00 PM

I am so pissed at these two. Nothing like giving ammunition to the enemy press about one of your own Party. I’m just flabbergasted…

sandee on March 7, 2013 at 4:22 PM

That’s been McCain’s career! Every time the Dem media wants to make a point, and it’s not working with just liberal voices, they just bring on The Maverick to stab his own party in the back again and again and again.

What’s funny is that he was personally hurt that the media turned their back on him in 2008. I suspected as much, and recently he came out and said it.

Axeman on March 8, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Mr. Grump on March 8, 2013 at 8:43 AM

Sir, I USED to live in the democrat stronghold of ChiTcago, now known as the murder capital of America. I know how it feels to be ignored by the Communists, and that is why I moved out of the state over 20 years ago.

DannoJyd on March 9, 2013 at 1:53 AM

This is a fair statement. I think a large majority of informed voters were puzzled that unemployment could be that bad, NSA surveillance increased, the economy still not recovered, gold prices still extremely high (not that people know what it relates to, but still), etc., and he could still get so many American Idol folks off the couch to vote for him.

rogerb on March 8, 2013 at 7:48 AM

Actually I posted the MANY reasons for why Romneycare Mittens would lose last April here in Hot Air, so I knew going in that my task as a grass roots volunteer would be largely wasted.

As this adds to your topic:

As the publication notes, many pundits attribute the lack of enthusiasm on the right over Mitt Romney’s candidacy to Romney’s and the Republican establishment’s snub of Palin and the Tea Party that won the GOP its House majority in 2010. The Republican establishment advisers were fearful of what their mainstream media bettors would think of them if they embraced the vice presidential candidate who has galvanized the Tea Party and the conservative base more than any other figure on the right over the last four years.

Having not learned their lesson, establishment Republicans, BizPacReview notes, “continue to attack Palin for no apparent reason.“

With so few GOP supporters working at the grass roots we can expect to see repeat loses as long as Americans refuse to get at all involved.

DannoJyd on March 9, 2013 at 2:00 AM

While Graham and his pals like John McCain were genuflecting before the president, Rand Paul was filibustering on the Senate floor, accompanied by Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. The difference between the old guard and the new guard of the GOP has never been so clear.
Graham continued, “The discussions with the President about our long-term budget problems were candid and differences in philosophy were apparent. However, also apparent was common ground on how to move forward.”

In lockstep with Obama, one would presume.

DannoJyd on March 9, 2013 at 2:10 AM

Gee Lindsey, it’s funny how I never remembered Bush trying to claim through his subordinates that he had the power to unilaterally order the assassination of US citizens at any time, any place and for whatever reason he deemed necessary, with no explanation and no due process.

Gator Country on March 9, 2013 at 5:43 PM

Ahhh isn’t it precious how the little neo-neo-con Alahpundit jumps into the fray to butress poor little neo-con tool Miss Lindsey. I have to say the new media shills are little better than the old dead media shills which is why I rarely bother to read Hot Air any more.

el Vaquero on March 10, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Maverick: One who trades away his constituents and Americans rights to the opposition for personal power.
How does that sum it up?

rgranger on March 10, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Does Ms. Lindsay realize that Paul, Cruz, Toomey, Rubio, Johnson, Scott, and Lee weren’t even in federal office at the time?

blammm on March 11, 2013 at 9:14 PM

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