I knew I’d end up using the “Frum” category sooner or later, even though the default, and proper, response to David Frum is to ignore him until he goes away. I’m reminded of Iowahawk’s rule about captioning every New Yorker cartoon with “I think I’m going to kill myself.” Frum columns are better appreciated if you append “I wish I was relevant” to the end of each paragraph.
But Frum did a pretty good job of capturing the weakness and dishonesty of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’s critics in the Daily Beast, including plenty of ad hominem sneering and straw-man bashing. Like most of the anti-Rand crowd, he makes the basic mistake of forgetting who started the fight. The filibuster only occurred because Attorney General Eric Holder wouldn’t give Paul a simple answer to the question Frum thinks is silly. Doesn’t that make Holder the silly one? Who should be be exasperated with: the Senator who stood for 13 hours on principle, or the Attorney General who couldn’t speak coherently for 13 minutes about the extra-judicial assassination of U.S. citizens on American soil?
Or does Frum just enjoy watching arrogant Administration officials hold up their noses and declare certain questions beneath their dignity? (It should be noted that with his characteristic “Baghdad Bob” grasp of strategic reality, Frum penned his screed right before Rand Paul won, and finally extracted the answer that Frum thinks Holder shouldn’t have bothered to give.)
Frum accuses Paul of invoking ” a nightmare out of a dystopian future: an evil future president shooting a missile at an American having coffee in a neighborhood cafe, merely on suspicion, without any due process of law.” Now who’s acting like a drama queen? The question is not limited to “evil” Presidents sending killbots to murder Daily Beast contributors. There are serious questions about the designation of enemy combatants here; the Paul question is not invalidated by hand-waving reassurances that the United States will never become a fascist dictatorship where the Maximum Leader uses remote-controlled weapons to hunt people for sport.
But the most unusual passage in Frum’s rambling yawner is his assertion that this statement from Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) is the “true answer” to Paul’s questions: “It would be unconstitutional for the U.S. military or intelligence services to conduct lethal counter-terrorism operations in the United States against U.S. citizens. I would never allow such operations to occur on my watch.”
Well, that settles it, right? As long as Mike Rogers is on the job, we’ve got nothing to worry about! The initial Holder response of “yeah, we can murder you if we want, but we probably wouldn’t do that” should be good enough for Rand Paul and his libertarian dorm-room legions, evidently.
Frum’s faith in his rulers is touching – and, one suspects, likely to evaporate after the next election, if a conservative wins.