You can understand why Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is bitter.
While Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) became Tea Party rock stars this year with high-profile but legislatively inconsequential filibusters, Rubio went from right-wing hero to RINO by risking his career to back a comprehensive immigration reform bill that actually passed the Senate.
Initially, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was supportive of “the Republican Savior” as he tried to accomplish the only policy recommendation Republicans gave themselves in their 2012 election “autopsy.” But the GOP base as represented by the Tea Partiers in the House refused to let Speaker John Boehner even consider letting the Senate bill come up for a vote.
As the far right organized against what they called his “shamnesty” bill, Rubio saw his dream of locking up the 2016 GOP nomination early suddenly replaced with billboards condemning the “Rubio-Obama immigration plan.”
To try to win back the base, Rubio joined with Cruz and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) in the failed plot to defund Obamacare. When that wasn’t enough, he actually turned against his own bill.
So you can imagine how steamed Senator Rubio was when he heard Paul Ryan being praised as a “dealmaker” for putting together a budget deal that basically re-enforces the status quo.
Well, you don’t have to imagine. Rubio almost immediately went on the attack against the proposed legislation after it was announced, saying not only was he against it, he was pretty sure it would be responsible for destroying the American Dream.
Ryan heard that criticism Thursday morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and fired back with a deft response.
“Read the deal and get back to me,” he said. “People are going to do what they need to do. Look, in the minority you don’t have the burden of governing.”
Republicans have stopped trying to hide the fact that there is a civil war going on between the Tea Party and the establishment.
Both of the leaders in the Senate — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) — are among the half-dozen Senate Republicans facing Tea Party primary challengers.
McConnell has been calling out the right-wing outside groups who are funding many of the challengers against him for weeks.
“I think, honestly, many of [the Tea Party] have been misled,” he told the Wall St. Journal’s Peggy Noonan in November. “They’ve been told the reason we can’t get to better outcomes than we’ve gotten is not because the Democrats control the Senate and the White House but because Republicans have been insufficiently feisty. Well, that’s just not true, and I think that the folks that I have difficulty with are the leaders of some of these groups who basically mislead them for profit… They raise money… take their cut and spend it.”
Boehner joined the fight this week by blasting the outside groups that he now says led to the shutdown.
“They’re using our members and they’re using the American people for their own goals,” Boehner said in a press conference on Thursday. “This is ridiculous. If you’re for more deficit reduction, you’re for this agreement.”
And Paul Ryan is making a case that being a conservative means accepting reality and actually governing.
Senator Rubio has given up on governance and moved as far to the right as he can go without falling off the game board. And he’s still being overshadowed by even more outlandish Tea Partiers.
That won’t stop him from trying to score points wherever he can. But even if he ends up opposing the immigration bills that will likely come out of the House now that the leadership has cut the Tea Party loose, chances are the only thing Marco Rubio will ever be president of is the Ted Cruz fan club.
AFP Photo/Andrew Burton