Just Enough Paranoias

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 8 2013 10:34 AM

Just Enough Paranoias

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) attends the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

My new story looks again at Sen. Rand Paul's 12-hour filibuster of the Brennan nomination. The gist: Sometimes (frequently), to get people to care about a civil liberties issue, you need to make them wet their pants with fear. Very Serious People don't like this, but it works, as the Very Serious Washington Post edit board reveals in its attempt to criticize Paul.

The fact that his paranoid fantasies gained some traction is testimony to the administration’s real failures in managing its counterterrorism campaigns. Mr. Obama has chosen to carry out hundreds of drone strikes against al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, including one against a U.S. citizen, without any public accounting.
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And this is typical of the email I've been getting.

Mr. Weigel - Where were all those liberal/left civil libertarian senators who should have joined win with.Sen. Paul's filibuster? The gutlees, spineless ones where no where to be seen or heard. As for Sens. McCain and Graham, I don't give a rat's ass about what they say - the "boots on the ground" tough guy twins.

(This headline is a possibly-too-obscure reference to the Devo song "Too Much Paranoias.")

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.