Tuesday I observed that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) did not seem to be exerting any leadership with regard to the Syria vote. That appearance deepened later in the day, when he appeared on Fox News:

This is as close as he has come to saying he wouldn’t support a resolution. Moreover, his criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry’s mention of the potential for group troops is disingenuous. Rubio should know that unforeseen circumstances may necessitate that possibility. There are no air-tight battle plans.

As an official of a pro-Israel group told me, Republicans like Rubio need to get past their frustration. If he wants to play “I told you so,” then he might score some political points temporarily, but he shreds his credibility on foreign policy and cements the observation that he blinks when the going gets tough.

At this point, he sounds not so different from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). In the clip above, Rand Paul opines on what is best for Israel. However, he is the only person on the planet (including Israel) who thinks allowing Bashar al-Assad to get away with use of WMDs makes Israel and our other allies safer. He might talk to some actual pro-Israel advocates here or in Israel.

The Syria issue, however, is not about Rubio, Rand Paul or even President Obama. It is about whether America recedes entirely from the Middle East, signaling to Iran and the world that we no longer stand behind our words on WMDs. The official yesterday told me in connection with the Syria resolution, “All roads lead to Tehran.” Those who can’t recognize it or don’t much care about deterring Iran can vote “no”; others should consider whether the point is to demonstrate Obama’s utter incompetence (he’s done that better than his critics) or to protect the country’s long-term national security. Let’s hope Rubio and others understand it is the latter.

UPDATE: Rubio seems to have fallen into a pattern of bellyaching about the president’s incompetence. This is a given; the question is now how to avoid making things worse.