TPM Reader PJ chimes in on drones as the new black helicopters …
I think your observation regarding the “hidden audience” of Rand Paul’s filibuster is fairly spot on. I think it makes sense to read it through the shifting tides of politics and foreign policy. For example, the “United Nations-is-coming-oh-my-god-they-will-force-plastic-money-on-us” conspiracy theory was really a way for some to make sense of the world following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of one of the only existential threats to the idea of America itself.
Without the Soviet Menace (and this is connected to your tweets yesterday regarding Rudy and Texiera and your observation about 9/11 “delaying” that New Majority), as far as foreign policy went we fell into a different kind of partisan indistinction (the number of people throwing around “Bush and Gore are basically the same” in 2000 was obviously significant and, in hindsight, utterly foolish.) 9/11 of course activated a lot of these old symbolic/emotional foreign policy nodes originally linked to the Cold War, nodes that just needed to be rearticulated through a different kind of enemy of was nevertheless opposed to freedom and liberty etc.
But once the security fatigue set in, it became clear neither party could really ride the foreign policy train to electoral victory. This doesn’t really eliminate the need for many to imagine themselves part of a nation threatened by some sort of external threat. And with the WOT basically mined for a lot of its alarmist ore, Americans (and especially conservative ones who found their party not only out of power but throroughly repudiated in 2008) still had to make sense of themselves. So the fear of Obama as Muslim-cum-Kenyan-cum-Fascist had to do a lot of work for this element of the conservative camp to sustain their fantasies. The idea of Obama orchestrating some sort of domestic drone army is no less fanciful than those fears that a Satanic UN would use its well known sovereign power (lol) to control the USA.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.