Tallying up wins and losses in politics is one of the most overused tropes in media coverage today. But it’s kind of hard not to see last week’s national conversation about Syria as an enormous victory for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
On Aug. 30, President Obama announced he would indeed go to Congress and seek approval before engaging in any military action in Syria. That announcement came after days of speculation and reports that Obama might simply act unilaterally.
So here’s a question for you: Would Obama’s decision to seek Congress’ approval have happened without Rand Paul’s insistent, public campaign for him to do so?
Almost every day in the week leading up to Obama’s announcement, Paul talked about Syria. He reminded us about the constitution, and the division of power written into this country’s code like an inseparable strand of DNA. He questioned the veracity of claims that the chemical weapons definitely came from Bashar al Assad (an important lesson many of us learned after the questionable evidence leading up to the Iraq War, yet seemingly ignored just a decade later by most other politicians).
He was ruthless in defense of the constitution. And that’s what the people elected him to be, right? We want our senator and our representatives – nationally and locally – to be this country’s watch dogs, prowling the land of the free and the home of the brave for any bandits looking to take advantage of the system.
Paul wasn’t the only dog sensing danger. But his bark was the loudest, the fiercest; and he walked right up to the face of the Obama administration – the powerful, hulking behemoth it is – and continued making noise.
Would we even be having this conversation if Paul remained silent? Would Secretary of State John Kerry be forced to publicly explain and defend the administration’s evidence for U.S. intervention if Paul was even the slightest bit complacent?
After Obama’s announcement, Paul released a statement:
“I am encouraged President Obama now says he will fulfill his constitutional obligation to seek authorization for any potential military action in Syria.,” it says. “This is the most important decision any President or any Senator must make, and it deserves vigorous debate.”
A debate sparked, stoked, and supported by one unafraid to serve as our watch dog.
Yes, obsessing over non-election “wins” and “losses” in politics is overused. But it’s hard not to come away from last week and want to scribble a giant ‘W’ on Rand’s score sheet.
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