Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., pulled a trick out of the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington playbook, filibustering President Barack Obama’s nomination of John Brennan as CIA director for nearly 13 hours Wednesday.
Paul held up the confirmation of Brennan out of concern over the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes on suspected terrorist subjects. He was particularly concerned about whether or not the administration had the authority to kill Americans suspected of terrorist behavior while in the United States.
Paul managed to hold the floor from 11:47 a.m. Wednesday until 12:39 a.m. Thursday, until nature finally took over and he had to use the restroom, yielding the floor. This was a classic filibuster, where he had to keep speaking (or take long questions from supportive audience members) the whole time.
What was the end result of Paul’s efforts? Attorney General Eric Holder clarified prior statements he had made about if a president could order a drone strike in the United States by saying that it couldn’t order one against an American citizen on American soil without them being charged with a crime or being found guilty in a criminal court. Also, Brennan’s vote, which was scheduled for Wednesday, did not happen until yesterday afternoon — he was confirmed by a 63-34 margin.
Twelve hours and 52 minutes is a long time to stand and speak, and Paul might have been better served — or entertained, at least — if he had spent his time doing other things. Here are five ways Paul could have spent that time instead.
Paul could have made it through nearly 13 football or hockey games in that stretch of time — assuming they didn’t reach overtime. He would have had 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter of his 13th football game and the same amount of time in the third period of his 13th hockey game. If he chose to watch professional basketball (48 minute games) he could have made it through 15 of them and just gotten started on the 16th before his time ran out.
Listening to an audiobook
He could have made it approximately a fifth of the way through the unabridged version of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged in audiobook format before his nearly 13 hours ended. A full unabridged version of the book runs 63 hours. If he didn’t mind abridgement, he could make it through the abridged audiobook version of Atlas Shrugged and still have an hour and 19 minutes to spare.
A marathon of the Lord of the Rings movies, combined with the soon-to-be released on DVD Hobbit film, will run 727 minutes in their original theatrical form, giving Paul 45 minutes to grab some popcorn or use the restroom. He wouldn’t be able to fit in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey if he watched the trilogy’s special edition cuts. They run 682 minutes, meaning he would get an hour and a half into the 169 minute long Hobbit before having to stop.
Listening to Music
Starting with their first self-titled album, Paul could listen to nearly the entire studio output of Canadian rock band Rush (who had a little spat with Paul back in 2010 on paying for using one of their songs). He could make it through the first 17 of their 19 studio albums, and would make it about 10 minutes into their 18th album, Snakes & Arrows. Unfortunately for him, Rush’s prog-rock tendencies mean he would only get to hear one full song and part of another before his time ran out.
Setting a world record
While Paul was unable to beat Strom Thurmond’s record for longest U.S. Senate filibuster — Thurmond made it over 24 hours in 1957 — he could easily use that time to take on other world record holders. Possible targets include smoking a pipe without relighting it for more than 3 hours, 4 minutes, and 35 seconds; standing on a swiss ball for longer than 5 hours, 7 minutes, and 6 seconds; or keeping a soccer ball aloft with his head for longer than 8 hours, 32 minutes, and 3 seconds.
— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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