Stand With Rand…For Nineteen Minutes!

In reviewing the CNBC debate I observed that Rand Paul seemed listless even in announcing his upcoming filibuster on the Bipartisan Budget Deal, which you’d have figured would represent a last chance for him to plunge an electric cattle prod into the tepid waters of his candidacy. Turns out this not-so-fighting-spirit characterized the “filibuster” as well, as WaPo’s Amber Phillips reports today:

Filibustering the deal was Paul’s ace card in Wednesday’s GOP debate in Boulder, Colo. Paul talked it up beforehand and mentioned it in his opening and closing speeches. And theoretically, being the face of resistance to the bipartisan deal (with more Democratic support than Republican) was a good political idea.

“I’m going to filibuster, as soon as I get done with this presidential debate thing,” he told students in Colorado, according to Politico.

When Paul did get to Washington, he marched onto the floor at 2:46 p.m. Thursday to “rise in opposition to raising the debt ceiling.”

He finished talking 19 minutes later.

Turns out Paul’s boon Kentucky companion (and most prominent presidential endorser, I might add) Mitch McConnell pulled a fast one procedurally as Paul “debated” Wednesday night and restricted his opportunities for a full filibuster. But he could have gone on for a few hours yesterday afternoon and evening, and just didn’t bother.

Parliamentary geeks will point out that, according to Senate rules, to successfully block passage of a bill by talking, Paul would have had to start his filibuster on Wednesday night. His Kentucky colleague, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), effectively scheduled things so Wednesday night’s debate prevented Paul from successfully halting the bill. So what he was doing wasn’t technically a filibuster and was doomed from the start.

That’s fine. But Paul’s campaign made sure to promote this as a typical #StandWithRand filibuster. Except for the, you know, actual talking part. It seems that in their version, they were hoping Paul’s stirring 19-minute speech would convince 40 other senators to join him and vote “no” on the deal.

They didn’t. The budget passed in the wee hours Friday morning, 64-35. And it’s worth noting here that Paul could have continued talking, but he didn’t.

And meanwhile Paul, and his campaign, went back to sleep. I guess we could call his remarks yesterday the “Libertarian Nineteen Moments,” eh?

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.