A temporary victory for the Constitution
Senator Rand Paul managed, if only briefly, to thwart the government's bulk collection of cell phone data. But the debate over the limits of government power did more than simply address certain sections of the Patriot Act. It made abundantly clear who supports limited government, and who does not.
Behind closed doors in the Senate’s Strom Thurmond Room, Republican senators lashed out at the junior Kentucky Republican’s defiant stance to force the expiration of key sections of the PATRIOT Act, a law virtually all of them support. Indiana Sen. Dan Coats’ criticism was perhaps the most biting: He accused the senator of “lying” about the matter in order to raise money for his presidential campaign, according to three people who attended the meeting.
Did Sen. Paul use this debate to help his presidential campaign? Absolutely. Then again, presidential campaigns are supposed to be about big issues, and we think the constitution">constitution">Constitution and limited government are at the top of that list. In that regard, this debate, and Paul's forcing the issue, did the nation a service.
It also helped strip away whatever doubts some may have harbored about the GOP stance on those matters. Paying lip service to limited government is what they do best. When it actually comes to taking away even a small amount of government's power, they balk.