Senators Gather To Caucus Over Hagel Nomination

In what might – or might not  – be a real shift among Republicans about the disastrous consequences – fiscally and strategically – of neoconservatism, Limbaugh backs Paul. Conor – ever alert to twitches in right-wing posturing – notices a fascinating if rather endless monologue when Limbaugh treats Paul as a serious contender, unlike his dad, Ron. Limbaugh thinks inside the heads of the GOPers dining with the president as Rand filibusters the Senate:

He’s a freshman.

And he’s a wacko!

“Ron Paul’s his dad. He’s an absolute nutcase Libertarian, and he’s talking about drones? Nobody wants to drop a drone on the American people. What the hell is this?” But he has the nation captivated. It’s caused a real reversal. Not a reversal, but the whole structure of things has now been upset, and it’s got a lot of people concerned, and it has legs. It does have legs. So I think it’s fascinating to behold, and once again it illustrates that these guys going to dinner with Obama, they were not challenging him.

They were not. People think this country is falling apart. People think that this country’s on its last legs as they know it, as it was founded. People in this country are really scared. There is a despondency among the population, a majority of the population. This isn’t just politics-as-usual. As far as the population the country’s concerned, the opposition party still doesn’t get it to the point that they’re not even the opposition party! Well, Rand Paul appeared to be the opposition, and he had the guts and the courage to stand up and demand that they explain something to him. And not only is he alive to tell about it, he’s not being called names.

He’s a hero to people.

I will leave alone the fact that the claims of the Bush administration for untrammeled executive power to kill, seize and torture anyone in the world at will, including US citizens, were dismissed out of hand by the Limbaugh right. Some of us on the right objected strenuously. We were cut off, called wackos, anti-Semites and the usual Trotskyite crap from an originally Trotskyite movement. Partisanship seems to be doing the trick.

Which is both encouraging but also deeply depressing at the same time.

(Photo: U.S. Senator Rand Paul leaves after a caucus meeting at the Capitol February 14, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.By Alex Wong/Getty Images)