Blog Buzz: GOP Establishment Charms While Tea Party Filibusters

The blogosphere reacts to Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster and President Obama's dinner with other Senate Republicans.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., backed work visas for illegal immigrants in his immigration reform speech Tuesday.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., backed work visas for illegal immigrants in his immigration reform speech Tuesday.

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Members of the Republican Party took two remarkably different approaches in dealing with their opposition to President Barack Obama and his polices on Wednesday. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky conducted an almost 13-hour filibuster against CIA director nominee John Brennan to demand more information on the administration's drone policies, while Republican senators including John McCain and Lindsey Graham had dinner with Obama at a Washington hotel. The blogosphere reacted to the two very different political strategies of an increasingly divided party:

Jana Brock of PolicyMic said the attention garnered by Paul's filibuster shows the value of the tactic and demonstrated his growing position of influence within the GOP:

In just 24 hours, it has rejuvenated a Republican Party brought down by the fiscal cliff debacle and other partisan garbage.

This is proof that the GOP is innovating. Paul spoke at CPAC last year and will be a speaker again this year. But he's riding a wave right now. He is fighting back against a brutish Democratic establishment and is at this moment, beating them at their own game.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Tea Party.]

Noah Rothman at Mediaite too said the filibuster showed the promise of the future of the conservative movement and its opposition to Obama's agenda, and called Paul a "martyr:"

Before Wednesday, however, Paul spoke for a narrow slice of the Republican Party's coalition. Today, he speaks for a reinvigorated GOP base. But as the hours wore on, another phenomenon began to take shape—Paul's ultimately unsuccessful efforts to rein in the president spoke directly to the forgotten millions of Americans wary of the ever-expanding scope of the unconstrained global war on terror. Paul offered himself up as something of a martyr. His voice, once lonely, grew in stature as his Republican colleagues—one after the next—shared his demand for redress from the White House, though all knew that would not be forthcoming. It was poetic. It was romantic. What may be most important, it reframed Congressional Republicans. All of the sudden, they were fighting for a cause with self-evident nobility that requires no public education campaign: life, liberty, and due process. In filibustering, Paul chipped away at the monopoly on romance that the left has enjoyed for more than a century.

Margaret Hartmann from the Daily Intelligencer writes that Paul's "stunt" fed into raising his national profile and elevated his opposition to Obama and his drone policies:

Yet, overall the stunt was a massive success for the Kentucky senator. Aside from accomplishing his stated goal of drawing more attention to the Obama administration's suggestion that it has the right to take out a U.S. citizens on American soil in a drone attack (though Attorney General Eric Holder says they probably won't), Rand drew bipartisan support and ensured that he'd be featured on every news program along with clips from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington—which is definitely a plus for a potential 2016 presidential candidate.

Jass Shaw of Hot Air, however, was critical of Paul's use of the filibuster, saying the senator was drawing attention for the wrong reasons and a subtler approach may have indeed been more effective:

Mission accomplished, to borrow a now infamous phrase. But the filibuster wound on for almost another eight hours. Why? With the vote called off, the job was done. And there's only so many times you can rephrase the same set of arguments over and over again before it gets repetitive. I was left feeling as if the continued steamrolling was beginning to detract from the popular appeal of the senator's decision to climb this mountain in the first place. Might it not have been better to yield the floor, save his voice and energy, and take it up again in the morning? And having thwarted the vote once—a vote which, let's face it, is going to take place at some point—might he not simply use the mass appeal and attention drawn by the first five hours to gin up some serious PAC money and run national ads to bring more public attention to the question of drones and US citizens defined as enemy combatants? In the end, I simply don't know why it went on for as long as it did.