Kass: A Senate battle between a libertarian whippersnapper, crotchety establishment

"Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?" wrote Holder to Paul. "The answer to that question is no."

The answer is "no"? Why did it take weeks for the White House to figure that one out?

In the spirit of bipartisanship, Obama's divine right of drones had support from Republicans like McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham.

A few months ago, they wanted to drop airborne troops into Libya. Now they just support robot death from the sky.

"I don't worry about (drones killing Americans)," Graham said. "Here's what I worry about: that al-Qaida has killed 2,958 of us and is going to add to the total if we let our guard down. And I will do everything in my power to protect this president — who I disagree with a lot — and future presidents in having an ill-informed Congress take over the legitimate authority under the Constitution and the laws of this land to be commander in chief on behalf of all of us."

Smooth answer. Nothing like campaigning against a know-nothing Congress on behalf of an imperial presidency.

But using fear talk in order to give the power of life and death to the federal security forces — and their natural antipathy to individual freedom — isn't remotely conservative.

It's statist.

Perhaps McCain and Graham hadn't yet digested the sumptuous peace dinner feast Democrat Obama put on for them and 10 other Republican senators at Plume, a fancy gourmet restaurant in Washington.

I checked the menu. Plume offers $85 meals, including Lobster "Thermidor" with a white wine saffron galcage and herbed baby potatoes; Moulard Duck Breast; and filet of beef with truffled potato mousseline, bone marrow and Madeira Jus.

And Rand Paul? As they feasted, he stood on his feet in the Senate, hour after hour, defending the Constitution and the rights of Americans not to be executed without trial.

He didn't have duck breast or bone marrow or whatever McCain chomped on with those choppers.

But he did get to wolf down a candy bar.

jskass@tribune.com

Twitter @John_Kass

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