Why Paul’s Forced Vote on Syria Is Not for Wimps

Why Paul’s Forced Vote on Syria Is Not for Wimps

Sen. Rand Paul has gone on record in regards to military intervention in Syria. And now he’s making his colleagues do the same – whether they want to or not.

As Matt K. Lewis of The Daily Caller notes, a vote on Syrian intervention forces members of both the Republican and Democratic party to go on the record with their feelings. That could be an issue for some who would prefer to stay quiet, guarding the future by keeping potential skeletons out of their closet. But Rand on the other hand…

“The choice is easy for Sen. Rand Paul. His presidential ambitions have always been premised on a bet that America’s public sentiment has changed, post Bush. Running as an anti-interventionist (or, at least, someone skeptical of adventurism) isn’t risky for Paul. It’s his only move. There’s no convincing his political adversaries he’s a foreign policy hawk — or even a mainstream Republican, for that matter. He has staked out this territory, so he might as well double down and own this brand.”

For those Republicans who may be more of the interventionist types, and who have generally tried to stay away from taking a firm position, it presents a tough choice. Lewis draws from a New York Times piece by Jonathan Martin here:

“White House hopefuls in Congress will be forced to choose between the wishes of Tea Party activists opposed to a strike and the wishes of more traditional Republicans, whose ranks include some major donors and Israel supporters with whom presidential candidates typically align themselves.”

Not to mention, a vote for a strike means they’re aligned with none other than President Obama. Oh vote against military action? Maybe they’re seen as pro-Bashar al Assad. As Lewis says, “Talk about having no good options.”

Rand Paul has already staked out his territory on this issue, however. Nobody can claim he is working as part of an Obama rubber stamp Senate. And he’s made clear this concern for Christians in Syria – which, as he’s noted, have been protected by Assad for years. And if he’s ousted, who knows what may come next and how they’ll treat Christians?

So while this vote may end up being a skeleton in the closet for 2016 hopefuls (you can already see the giant headline now: ‘Republican Candidate Slammed for Obama Support in 2013’), Paul is nearly impervious to similar criticism. And he’s gaining even more potential ammo for a 2016 campaign by making his potential opponents choose a side on an issue they’d rather not.

That’s savvy politics.



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