Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, compare and contrast

Marco Rubio and Rand Paul both questioned John Kerry and his sidekicks during yesterday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Syria. Rubio was very skeptical about the president’s idea of attacking the Assad regime; Paul was adamantly opposed to it.

They were coming from different places. Rubio said he favors taking out the Assad regime, though he acknowledged the risks of doing so. Paul wants a “hands off of Syria.”

But the contrast I want to discuss is the contrast in presentation.

Rubio was organized and analytical — more so, probably, than any other Committee member — laying out our three broad options for proceeding. Paul was all over the place, asking one rhetorical question after another in a rapid fire manner.

Moreover, Rubio had a clear position on each of the options he laid out. Paul had no answers to his own questions. He claimed the answers are “unknowable.”

His was argument by throwing up hands — since there’s so much uncertainty, we shouldn’t act. The obvious fallacy is that we also don’t “know” what the result of inaction will be.

If Rubio and Paul seek the presidency, they will be debating each other in about a year. I won’t vote for either, but my money in the debates will be on Rubio.

Paul’s act will appeal to his father’s base, and probably a bit further than that. But unless Paul becomes more of a match for Rubio when it comes to organization and analysis, the Republican rank-and-file probably will be considerably more impressed by the Senator from Florida than by his rival from Kentucky.

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