If you regularly discuss politics and politicians with others, it’s likely that at some point either you or those you are speaking with have criticized elected officials for making proposals, statements, or taking other actions strictly for political posturing purposes. That is, they’ve decided to sponsor a bill, take a campaign position, or make a public statement not because they truly care about or plan to effect change on the issue, but because they’ve calculated that simply making the proposal, putting something in their platform, or responding in a particular way during an interview will bolster public perception about them, get them attention, or be helpful in some other way. I’ve made this critique many times on The David Pakman Show. However, Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul’s recent 13-hour talking filibuster on the floor of the Senate – and the reactions from both liberal and conservatives to that day-long event – have shown me that not all political posturing is the same.
In case you missed it, on March 6th, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul took to the floor of the Senate at 11:47am eastern time and continued speaking, with only short interludes from other Senators, mostly Republicans, until 12:39am that night, when he implied a call of nature was at least partly responsible for the need to stop the filibuster. The reason for the filibuster was to delay the Senate vote on the confirmation of President Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan. Senator Paul correctly stated during his filibuster that he knew his filibuster would not stop Brennan’s eventual confirmation, which happened the next afternoon by a 63 to 34 vote. Senator Paul was using the opportunity to ask questions and request more information about the use of drones on Americans, both outside of and within US soil, and the President’s powers to order Americans assassinated in a variety of different situations. In both progressive and conservative circles, often for different reasons, concern over such policies has grown over the last several months, and the lack of clarity from a number of administration officials has not helped to dissuade such concern. The topic has been discussed frequently on my broadcasts on a number of levels with a variety of experts.
I am not a Senator Rand Paul supporter in any way, both for his concerning statements about civil rights and surrounding race, as well as due to his naïve and often juvenile Libertarian ideas, and for a number of other reasons. I also do not disagree with the comments of many progressives that his filibuster was nothing more than a stunt meant to get attention, even while Senator Paul may have no real plans to propose a bill that addresses his concerns over the President’s assassination powers and the use of drones. That being said, I believe to the end that his filibuster was a means to inform more people about the controversy, it was a positive thing. The filibuster received coverage on a wide variety of mainstream and alternative media throughout the day, and led to many segments which had no choice but to explain what the subject of the filibuster was. Regardless of which side of the issue one is on, more awareness among Americans about government activities which lead to the deaths of Americans and foreigners within and outside of US soil is something we should encourage, and it is truly disturbing how few Americans were even aware of the policies at issue.
Senator Rand Paul might have a long political career, or he might not, but the filibuster addressed issues that will carry well beyond his political career, no matter how long it turns out to be. Some political posturing is despicable and embarrassing, like the Republican-led House of Representatives proposing and voting on countless bills to repeal Obamacare, something which never had a chance of passing the Senate, nor Presidential veto. At the same time, some political posturing is constructive and broadens public awareness, such as the standing up of several Democratic House members during the certification of the 2000 election with Vice President Al Gore presiding. Although the House members standing in objection of the certification of the Florida electoral votes knew they would not get far without a Senate co-sponsor of their objection, their actions carried loudly, given the political nature of the way in which George W. Bush was awarded those votes, and therefore the 2000 election.
There is no question that there are countless hours of wasted time – and therefore wasted taxpayer money – from elected officials, but critical allegations of “political posturing” when examining the actions of elected officials should be looked at individually. They should also be separated from party affiliations. It’s important to look beyond the person and their political future and examine the importance of the issues being brought to light.
David Pakman, host of the internationally syndicated political talk radio and television program, "The David Pakman Show," writes a monthly column. He can be reached at www.davidpakman.com.