Republican presidential contender Rand Paul wowed ’em at Berkeley, for all of that university’s left-wing ethos. Former labor secretary Robert Reich, now a professor there, observed that not many people can get a standing ovation at both CPAC and at Berkeley. But such left wing/right wing dichotomies do not really account for Paul’s pro-life, pro-peace, pro-civil liberties libertarianism. Do you think Rand Paul could forge a left/right coalition?
In a speech peppered with references to Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” Paul told a crowd of about 400 that he will call for creation of a bipartisan committee to probe and reform the intelligence community. Much like the post-Watergate Church Committee of the 1970s, “It should watch the watchers.”
“Your rights, especially your right to privacy, are under assault,” he said, noting the National Security Agency has said its surveillance programs treat lawmakers like any other Americans.
“Digest exactly what that means. If Congress is spied upon without their permission, who exactly is in charge of the government?”
Just as Edward Snowden broke the law by leaking information about these programs, so too did Director of National Intelligence James Clapper break the law by lying to Congress, Paul said. The nation is under watch by “an intelligence community that’s drunk with power, unrepentant and unwilling to relinquish power,” he said. “The sheer arrogance of this: They’re only sorry that they got caught. Without the Snowden leaks, these spies would still be doing whatever they please.”
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich watched from the back of the room.
“There are not too many people who can get a standing ovation at CPAC and a standing ovation at Berkeley,” said Reich, now a UC-Berkeley professor.