I woke up this morning proud to be an American. Despite heavy pressure from the military-industrial complex, Republican hawks, and no less a figure than Mitch McConnell, our Congress passed common-sense legislation limiting the right of the state to conduct surveillance on innocent citizens.
Senator McConnell, the head of the Senate and a leader whose parliamentary skills have been honed for decades, was “hoisted on his own petard.” In a turn of events that has no equal except perhaps when Hamen was hung on his own gallows (Book of Esther in the Old Testament), Mr. McConnell sent the Senate off on a week-long recess so he could use the threat of the complete lapse of the Patriot Act to get it renewed in its entirety.
However, he didn’t anticipate the actions of Rand Paul who was quite willing to call McConnell’s bluff. Then, when the Patriot Act had indeed lapsed, the backers of the USA Freedom Act used Mr. McConnell’s own skill at timing against him. Now, any amendments to the USA Freedom Act would have extended the debate, thus continuing the lapsed period, so the Senate were forced to back it as is, and therefore beat back all of Mr. McConnell’s attempts to make it stronger.
If Mr. McConnell hadn’t been so manipulative by letting the Senate go on a week-long vacation, this situation would not have occurred.
And meanwhile, we American citizens were treated to a full-throated debate about the competing values of privacy and security. Mr. Paul played a critical role in that debate, but so did many other Senators as well. The debate did not hew to any strict partisan lines, and the only issue concerned was the well being of the country. If only our Congress could follow this script in other debates as well then the low approval rating of the Congress might be improved.