Sometimes, when you say something, you mean something else. Given the inconsistencies from Rand Paul on the Syria issue, I think there’s a likely key to interpretation:
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, said President Barack Obama “didn’t quite convince me” on the need to launch a military strike on Syria in his Tuesday night speech.
But, Paul said, Obama did make a compelling case that Syrian President Bashar Assad is guilty of killing almost 1,500 civilians with poison gas last month.
“If Assad is responsible he deserves death for this,” Paul told Fox News Channel after the Tuesday night speech. “But the president’s plan is to leave Assad alone,” Paul said on a later CNN appearance.
Here’s the charitable interpretation. Assad (or whoever is responsible) deserves death, but it’s not in America’s interest to serve that up to him. Here’s the less charitable (but probably more accurate) interpretation. I’ll oppose the President on whatever he tries to do and act very principled about American interests and be very, very non-inteventionist. And when the President doesn’t do something interventionist, I’ll call him weak for leaving someone like Assad in power. See the game? If President calls for military action, say he’s a saber-rattler. If the President tries diplomacy, shout appeasement. (See Salon for a list of others playing the game.)