Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., walks to a waiting vehicle as he leaves the Capitol after his filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan to be CIA director on Capitol Hill in Washington, early Thursday, March 7, 2013.
I had the distinct pleasure yesterday of watching Rand Paul's filibuster for eight of its thirteen hours. I followed it on C-Span and online at twitter, where a category of comments under the heading #StandWith Rand became the No. 1 trending topic. Hour after hour, comments were popping up every minute or two, 20-60 at time. During the night, Sen. Ted Cruz read some of them on the Senate floor (there's some video HERE).
Charles Krauthammer called the filibuster "a stroke of political genius." It was a very exciting, historic 13-hour "moment" and I cherished it, in great part because it never could have happened without the tea party movement. It was that energy that helped elect Rand Paul, as well as filibuster supporter-participants Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and it was that energy that I think drove the massive citizen support for the filibuster last night.
It was also thrilling because it was the first time in recent memory that elected conservatives were able to dominate the news cycle, usually controlled by the White House. For once, conservatives were not pinned in a corner by the President. I tell you, I haven't been so proud of my country since that fleeting moment when I thought maybe Romney could actually win the election :)
Rand Paul did not officially yield the floor, but accepted "questions" from other Senators, so that he could sit down and stop talking without ending the filibuster. The Senators who assisted and supported in this way were: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wy.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.).
Just one Democrat joined in the filibuster, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Kudos to him.
There was quite a bit of ire on twitter directed toward the Republican senators who were out having dinner last night with The Omnipresent Won at the Jefferson Hotel. They were: Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Tom Coburn, Kelly Ayotte, Pat Toomey, Bob Corker, Ron Johnson, Saxby Chambliss, John Hoeven, Dan Coats, Richard Burr and Mike Johanns.
Toomey, Johnson and Chambliss headed to the Senate floor later that night.
You can read about what HuffPost calls "the president's charm offensive," at ... well, the Huffington Post:
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a frequent critic of the White House on national security issues, said he was encouraged by Obama's efforts. "This is how you solve hard problems," the South Carolina Republican said.
After listening for so many hours to substantive discussion of the issue, which boils down to the legal limits on presidential powers, I am loathe to repeat the talking points. I can, however, recommend a very instructive post by our friend Jennifer Dyer at The Optimistic Conservative blog:
We'll have to see what today brings, but there is cause for optimism... for the first time in a long time.
Okay, limited optimism.
NOTE: Ashley Parker did cover the filibuster for the fishwrap "of record" - and very fairly so, I think - at The Caucus blog:
Also Note: The URL records a title of "Rand Paul Does Not Go Quietly Into The Night," but editors apparently chose to go with the more dowdy "Republicans, Led by Rand Paul, Finally End Filibuster."