“I would say they’re somewhat like stunned bunnies at this point,” said Kenneth Anderson, a law professor at American University and a Hoover Institution fellow.

One factor in the administration’s ham-handed response may be a lack of political warning for a president accustomed to being bashed by the GOP for being too weak and diffident in his counterterrorism policy, but not used to attacks from the right for wielding military power recklessly…

Anderson says Paul’s take on drones taps into fears among many in the GOP that Obama has made an unprecedented power grab in the domestic policy sphere, establishing a kind of “imperial presidency.”

“It’s part of the libertarian wing who see this as a tyrannical president who rules by executive order without authorization by Congress. This is a fantasy, actually,” Anderson said…

“I do mind our party taking a position completely different than we had with President Bush,” Graham told POLITICO. “I didn’t hear any of these people say anything during the Bush administration. Where were they? I just think it’s politics. I think it’s creating a straw man, creating a situation that doesn’t exist.”