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A Funny Thing Happened On Marco Rubio’s Way To The Nomination

Memo Pad Politics

A Funny Thing Happened On Marco Rubio’s Way To The Nomination


Poor Marco Rubio.

As the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform sink, so go his hopes of establishing himself as the solid Republican frontrunner in the 2016 campaign for the White House.

Meanwhile, the junior Florida senator is under siege from the bug-eyed right wing of his own party. Glenn Beck called him a “piece of garbage,” and even the Tea Party has turned on him. It’s gotten so bad that GOP action groups are putting out commercials saying nice things about Rubio, just to preserve his shot at the presidency.

Unfortunately, immigration reform is the only serious issue on which Rubio has presumed to lead. Otherwise, his time in Washington has been quiet and forgettable.

During the big post-Newtown debate on expanding background checks of firearms buyers, Rubio revealed himself as just another gutless sniveler controlled by the NRA. In the budget battle he offered not a single new idea, only boilerplate attacks on President Obama over the federal deficit (which is now, to the chagrin of Republican presidential hopefuls, shrinking).

Immigration reform was to be Rubio’s golden ticket to the nomination — a young Hispanic candidate from a critical swing state, bridging with Latino voters a huge gap that helped cost Mitt Romney the election last year.

The immigration bill that has finally passed the Senate would add more resources for border security while offering a long road to full citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. The legislation is doomed to crash in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner has been neutered by the hardcore who take their cues from radio screamers like Beck.

Many of those House members disdainful of immigration reform don’t have to worry about their own re-election because they come from carefully gerrymandered districts where the majority of voters are older white conservatives.

As long as the House remains tilted so far right of the nation’s political center, and continues to smother all efforts at moderate compromise, the Republicans have virtually no prayer of recapturing the White House in three years.

This grim obstacle has become clear to Rubio and others seeking to be the next GOP nominee, as well as to some heavy political action groups that have launched an unusual ad campaign in several states.

One Florida ad running on Fox News encourages viewers to phone Rubio and “thank him for keeping his promise, and fighting to secure the border.” The commercial was funded by the conservative American Action Network (these big-money groups always have the word “American” in their name, to show how patriotically unselfish they are).

Another one, Americans for Conservative Direction, recently ran pro-Rubio ads in Iowa, the first major primary state, and also the whitest. “Stand with Marco Rubio to end de facto amnesty,” the commercial proclaimed.

And next month, in one of the grandest hypocrisies of the entire immigration furor, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation is for the first time taking its annual conference away from Washington.

The new site: Orlando. The keynote speaker: Sen. Marco Rubio.

Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen is an award-winning journalist, commentator, and novelist. Hiaasen has worked for the Miami Herald since 1976, and his writing focuses on environmental and corruption issues in his home state of Florida.

His latest book is Skink—No Surrender (2014).

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  1. Dominick Vila July 16, 2013

    Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are distractions designed to project an imagine of inclusion that contrasts with the realities that exist in the modern-day Republican Party. Like the African American tokens they show cased during the 2012 presidential campaign, these two gentlemen don’t have a chance in hell of winning the 2016 GOP nomination. The best they can hope for is a Cabinet position. The reason for that has nothing to do with qualifications or relevant experience, it is based on the fact that nominating a Hispanic would result in a mass exodus of the party faithful. Bear in mind that the same sentiment applies to white female conservatives, although I would not be surprised if one is chosen for the number two spot out of necessity.

    1. TZToronto July 16, 2013

      I think that the GOP puppet-masters have decided that the GOP cannot win the Presidency in 2016. They’re not worried, though. They have realized that they can make a Democratic President irrelevant and, effectively, neuter the Executive branch–as long as a Democrat is President. This is done by stacking the deck against a Democratic House majority and by using the filibuster in the Senate. Since Senators are voted state-wide, the district gerrymandering doesn’t work for the Senate, so the right has used the filibuster to block Presidential nominations–even when those nominated are Republicans! I think that any Democratic President–Hillary, Biden, or Al Franken–will face the same obstructionism that President Obama has faced until the Democrats win a majority in the House–if that’s ever possible. In the meantime, the GOP accuses President Obama of having done nothing. But isn’t that typical of old white guys? They love to place obstacles to keep poor people (read black or Hispanic) from advancing, and then they accuse the poor of being lazy because they haven’t achieved the American Dream of immeasurable wealth. (Of course, many of these same old white guys are poor themselves, but they blame the lazy, brown-ish poor for squandering their tax money which they would otherwise use to make themselves wealthy.)

      1. Dominick Vila July 16, 2013

        One of the Barack Obama’s most remarkable accomplishment is much progress he has managed to achieve on so many fronts in spite of the robust obstructionism he has encountered since he became president. The same can be said for Bill Clinton, and the same will be true if Hillary, Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden become our next president.
        The GOP is second to none when it comes to campaigning, their problem is that they don’t know how to govern and are devoid of viable ideas. With the exception of irresponsible tax breaks, an obsessive focus on redistribution of wealth from the public to the private sector, immature reactions to international problems, and bizarre proposals such as the privatization of Social Security, dismantling MEDICARE and raising student loan interest rates, they really have very little to offer in terms of contributing to the betterment of our society. That is why smoke screens, hyperbole, deceit and illusions have been and remain the centerpiece of their political strategy.

        1. CPAinNewYork July 16, 2013

          I think that you can strike Hillary Clinton off your list.

        2. TZToronto July 16, 2013

          Perhaps we didn’t notice it under Dubya because he was on vacation for three years.

          1. charleo1 July 16, 2013

            The GOP and Bush are in agreement at last on his
            Presidency. He doesn’t recall being President. And
            they don’t either!

    2. disqus_ivSI3ByGmh July 16, 2013

      How are two Cuban-Americans supposed to project an image of inclusion? When the Cubans arrive, they are automatically granted legal status no matter how they got here. For any other Hispanic to be considered “legal” he needs more administrative paperwork than it takes to be hired as an NSA contractor! So there is no personal identification with these guys and the bulk of the Hispanic population in the Country. Puerto Ricans are already citizens, and other Hispanics had to jump through hoops to get here – legally or otherwise – as opposed to the Cuban free ride system.

      1. Dominick Vila July 16, 2013

        Well said. Pretending we don’t have an immigration law problem because Puerto Ricans, who are U.S. citizens at birth, and because of Cubans are granted permanent residency and a path to citizenship the moment they set foot on U.S. soil, while ignoring that all other Hispanics and Latinos face insurmountable obstacles is tantamount to Nazi deception.
        Interestingly, anti-immigration reform advocates use those Hispanics who for a variety of reasons are in this country legally as proof that our social programs are being abused by illegal immigrants. In their minds, anyone who speaks Spanish is automatically an illegal. It doesn’t matter if they speak and write perfect English, if they and their ancestors were born in this country, or what they do for a living. Being members of an ethnic group they love to hate is reason enough to question their citizenship.

        1. jmprint July 16, 2013

          Well said, I have a hispanic brother in-law that voted republican, because like many that are in their comfort zone do. He criticizes the immigrants, even though his dad was illegal from 1920-1967.
          I wonder how he would feel if we were in 1940 and this was happening to him. Where he would be loosing his dad to deportation? We are all immigrants at one point or another. The laws are not fair and equal to all people. Japanese, Chinese, Philippines, Canadians, Africans, Russians, British, they all are treated better the the immigrants from Mexico.

          1. charleo1 July 16, 2013

            The Right determined some time ago, applying the rules of
            fairness/equality/ to issues, was not going to be something
            than was possible. For one thing, they were going to be
            advocating for the minority rich, while pretending to be looking
            out for the best interests of a much less rich, voter. Without
            who’s votes they couldn’t serve the wealthy. So they knew going in, there was going to be a lot of dishonesty, and hypocrisy.
            And times when they were not going to be able to do anything
            but make up an outrageous pack of lies. And with a straight
            face, swear by everything Holy, they were all true. So the general consensus was, they had enough to handle, simply
            passing the lies involved in their agenda. Without worrying
            about fairness, and equality. Which, they decided to label political correctness. And use them, to mock their competition.

      2. Russell Byrd July 16, 2013

        And, we do this out of spite. All because we went into spasms over the fact that Castro would not just curl up and die.

        The Cuban gangsters are probably the killers of Kennedy as well. They got revenge because Kennedy would not directly involve U.S. forces in the Bay of Pigs.

  2. howa4x July 16, 2013

    One issue this article misses is that Rubio only won Fla in a 3 way senate race where more votes were cast against him than for him. I don’t think he can carry his home swing state, especially since the Latinos there are Cuban and not Mexican/South American. He won’t survive the primary process set up by the Koch bros and controlled by the far right base. Let’s not for get that the Koch’s were the original funders of the tealiban and helped propel them to this position in the nomination process. They only wanted the TP to be a wedge against environmental and financial regulation and do some union busting not to fall off the cliff on social issues. Now the TP are out of control and threatening to derail the entire party. The Base is hostile to Immigration and sees them as a threat, and as long as they have the control they will not let a basic conservative get past them. The crazies like Beck, Palin, Coulter, Limbaugh and a host of local radio nutcases have the airwaves and if the Koch’s can’t shut them up the republican move to the middle is over.

  3. Catskinner July 16, 2013

    All of us who really care about the country are hoping Rubio fails with this terrible immigration bill. He’ll have to think of something else to enamor himself to the public if he wants to run for president.

    1. jmprint July 16, 2013

      Can you tell me what is so bad about this bill? Rubio is on puppet on strings.

      1. Catskinner July 16, 2013

        I disagree with giving criminals a pathway to citizenship, but if you’re going to do that, the bill doesn’t go nearly far enough in eliminating family reunification. But probably the most egregious thing about it is this: If you’re going to have a guest worker program you’re going to have to do away with the Anchor Baby situation. Otherwise, a woman will come to the US as a guest worker, have a child on American soil, and the entire family will be grub-staked from he US Treasury for the next 18 years. In a word, nothing has changed.

  4. catnip2430 July 16, 2013

    Proof that the GOP eat their own young.


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