1:31 PM CST, February 13, 2013
Has a modern political party ever shoved a guy center stage so hastily? Has a party ever pushed more of their chips into the pot based on one hand? Has anybody even bothered to point out that Marc Rubio perfectly embodies the white conservative critique of affirmative action hires?
You’ll recall me explaining why Rubio would have been a much better VP pick than Paul Ryan, and you’ll also recall me writing that he’s the current frontrunner for the 2016 nomination, but that’s simply my political brain thinking through game theory. Rubio—as everyone is pointing out—is still so far up the ass of supply-side, anti-scientific Republican orthodoxy that he might as well be parroting Rick Santorum or Todd Aiken or Michelle Bachman or any of the other geniuses who’ve represented the party publically.
TIME gave him a cover story in which biography trumped the fact that he refuses to say if the earth is 4.5 billion years old (hint: it is). His comments on climate change represent the same dangerous, denialist kowtowing to the fossil fuel lobby that has transformed the Republicans into the flat-earthers of our time. His State of the Union rebuttal—meme-able Poland Springs slip-up aside—could have been written by an uninformed conservative member of a high school debate team trying to draw up arguments from half-remembered episodes of “Hannity.”
No, government trying to put poor people into homes did not cause the housing meltdown. Yes, we understand how capitalism and markets work, and no, public investment is in no danger of crowding out private investment. No, raising taxes marginally on high-income individuals and families will not have an adverse effect on the economy. Yes, the Republican party's singular obsession is protecting the tax advantages of the wealthy. No, government cannot control the weather, but it will have to figure out a way to start lowering CO2 emissions if you want your grandchildren to read about President Rubio in a history book. Oh, and if 2Pac were alive today, he would be writing songs about what a tool you are.
(The fact that Rubio cited the man’s lyrics as the reason he prefers Pac to Biggie was one of those head-scratching moments where I had to wonder if he understood that 2Pac’s political lyrics put him to the left of the Black Panther Party.)
The Republicans do not have a “branding” problem. It’s that their ideas suck and are not in accordance with reality or logic.
The one area where Rubio has shifted his position—immigration—represents a total capitulation to the Democrats, and it will be interesting to see if he can ride out the inevitable backlash that will follow from the base if and when a bill looks capable of passing.
One last thought: there is a certain amount of beltway gossip floating around about some unspoken reason why Mitt Romney never considered Rubio for the VP spot. Admittedly, this is totally third-hand hearsay, but to be sure, the entire episode was totally baffling since Rubio checked so many boxes. Apparently the young senator might have problematic pieces to his biography that kept him off the ticket. Who knows what could come out in the next four years, but it would have to be bigger than lying about when your parents immigrated.
Whatever the case, Rubio as a politician and a thinker is a total yawn, and barring some kind of radical transformation or events, he's a dud in the making.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC