With that in mind, one can hardly blame Sen. Paul for basking in the glow of what he claimed was a victory over the National Security Agency.
Late Sunday the National Security Agency (NSA) shut down its bulk data collection program as the PATRIOT Act expired thanks to Paul’s efforts. He tells Breitbart News exclusively that “we’re excited by the fact that the battle has been won.”
“The president has been told in no uncertain terms—and by the end of the week this will be in writing—that he can no longer illegally collect all of Americans’ phone records and keep them in Utah,” Paul said.
"I think this is a big rebuke for the president. The courts told him it was illegal and he just kept doing it anyway. I think most Americans, particularly Republicans, don’t trust this president. This is the same president who went after Tea Party groups and went after religious liberty and religious groups. I don’t understand why some of the big government Republicans up here don’t get it because most Republicans I meet across the country don’t want this president to have access to all their phone records."
Say what you will about Sen. Paul, but it was wrong of the President to dismiss his and others' objections as merely an attempt to "score political points." The outcry over the NSA's bulk data collections has been prevalent among a good number of Tea Party and libertarian members of Congress.
Even though Paul scored a proverbial touchdown as a result of his efforts, he soon after committed the equivalent of an "excessive celebration" penalty which may take away some of the luster.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Paul railed against those accusing him of jeopardizing national security by stalling efforts to renew surveillance programs.
“People here in town think I’m making a huge mistake,” Paul said. “Some of them, I think, secretly want there to be an attack on the United States so they can blame it on me.”
Paul later chalked up his comments simply being made in "the heat of battle." This is one of Paul's shortcomings that he'll have to overcome in his presidential run. That is, he has a tendency to come off as curt and cranky, a demeanor which (fair or unfair) typically resonates negatively with voters.
Let's suppose Paul does not win the 2016 GOP nomination for President. He's up for re-election in the U.S. Senate in 2016, so he'll have to re-shift his focus there. Because of his actions in thwarting the renewal of the the PATRIOT Act, this may cause the pro-defense wing of the Kentucky Republican party to put up a primary challenger against Paul. Kentucky has proven to be a fickle state when it comes to its political candidates, so I wouldn't bet on Paul's reelection to the Senate in '16 being a slam dunk.
Regardless of what happens in Paul's future, I think we can all agree that we hope our country can remain safe and secure from terror attacks without egregious infringements into our private lives.