Sen. Lindsey Graham cares more about Benghazi than John Brennan, but more about drones than Benghazi. From mid-January to last Sunday, Graham said he would block Brennan's nomination to head the CIA until President Obama gave him more information on what happened in Benghazi. Graham and his Senate allies filibustered Chuck Hagel over Benghazi, too. But on Thursday, Graham said he would support Brennan's nomination, because Rand Paul's filibuster had turned the nomination into a referendum on drones.
Graham and Sen. John McCain attacked fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul on the Senate floor Thursday following Paul's filibuster of Brennan. Paul was filibustering for the wrong reasons. Paul demanded the Obama administration clarify whether it could kill an American with a drone on American soil. Paul wanted to know whether the government could kill a citizen "in a cafe in San Francisco or a restaurant in Houston or at their home in Bowling Green, Kentucky" or maybe Jane Fonda when she paraded around in North Vietnam. Graham and McCain said that was nuts. McCain said:
"To somehow allege or infer that the President of the United States is going to kill somebody like Jane Fonda, or somebody who disagrees with the policies, is a stretch of imagination which is, frankly, ridiculous...
So we've done a, I think, a disservice to a lot Americans by making them believe that somehow they're in danger from their government. They're not. But we are in danger. We are in danger from a dedicated, longstanding, easily replaceable leadership enemy that is hellbent on our destruction. And this leads us to having to do things that perhaps we haven't had to do in other more conventional wars."
Graham agreed — and used a chart (shown above). "The chance of you being killed by a drone bc you go to a Tea Party rally or a Moveon rally... by the government through the use of a drone, is zero," Graham said. Yes, if citizens join al Qaeda, they can be killed, he said. "If you join with these thugs, these nuts, to attack your homeland, and we have no ability to capture you, we will kill you. And we will do it because you made us."
The fight highlights that while Paul's filibuster was popular among conservatives because he bashed Obama, his foreign policy views are not so popular. Rush Limbaugh hailed Paul's filibuster, saying he proved conservatives can attack Obama without being called racist. In his Thursday radio show, Limbaugh said McCain and Graham were "jealous." He explained that the Senate "is showbiz, it's about getting on television, it's about getting rave reviews in the media... Right now Rand Paul, Maroc Rubio and Ted Cruz have captivated everybody, and these old guard guys, old bulls, are jealous." But aside from the media spectacle, Paul's views have more support among liberals. Paul's father Ron Paul was booed in 2012 presidential primary debates for his not-so-hawkish views. A Fox News poll shows that 74 percent of Americans support drones, and 80 percent of Republicans do.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.