In the 2016 elections, as the second term of President Barack Obama was winding down and it became possible to criticize him without being branded a racist, the Republican Party began scolding the nation on the 2008 folly of having elected a one-term Senator with a notorious vagueness on key national issues, on the flimsy basis of him being an African American. The Republican solution was to elect a one-term Senator with a notorious vagueness on key national issues, on the flimsy basis of him being a Hispanic.
Although Rubio was born in Florida and is a "natural-born citizen," his parents immigrated from Cuba. As the whole point of looking into Rubio is to join the national harangue over immigration, the reader must decide whether Rubio's parents immigrated when Cuba was under its right-wing dictator or under its left-wing dictator; and therefore whether they came to the United States to escape tyranny and palpable risk of torture and death — or merely to get a better deal on housewares and jobs with time-and-a-half for overtime.
Rubio is a member of the Catholic Church. However, Wikipedia tells us that the Rubio family had a three-year dalliance with Mormonism while in Nevada in the 1980s, suggesting a diversion that might be as useful as it was during the campaign of Mitt Romney.
Having graduated with a law degree from the University of Miami, Rubio was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in a special election in 1999. He served nine years there, being re-elected with token opposition or none at all. Florida was in a whirlwind romance with term limits, which were doing what term limits do best: forcing veteran legislators to retire and promoting new ones faster than Schlitz used to brew cans of beer. In the wink of an eye, Rubio was House Speaker, a useful way for him to argue that, unlike some of his Presidential competitors, he really has run a large organization.
In 2010, after the cup-of-coffee in the Speaker's seat, it was time for another promotion, and the baby-faced Rubio announced for the U.S. Senate. His opponent for the Republican nomination was Governor Charlie Crist, with whom Rubio had sparred frequently in the Florida House. Although Rubio did not realize that the highest calling of a Republican candidate is to ask for people's votes because "it is my turn" — and it was Crist's turn — Rubio nevertheless surpassed Crist in the polls, because Rubio had the support of Florida's Tea Party movement, while Crist merely had the support of the much smaller number who like horrible governors.
Crist, however, always deked before throwing a knock-out punch, and in this boxing match, he executed a deft sidestep, out of the Republican Party entirely, running for the Senate as an independent and masterfully denying Rubio 50% of the vote. Unfortunately for Crist, he did not attain the mark himself, as there was a Democrat in the race, as well as a member of Florida's always-influential Free Hemp Party as a spoiler. They split the opposition vote, and Rubio was in with 49% of the vote. So much for waiting his turn.
Gang of EightEdit
Far from waiting his turn, once elected, Rubio executed a sharp turn to the left — a two-step worthy of Crist Himself. Rubio horrified his Tea Party backers by doing what Republicans do best: "reaching across the aisle" to the very same Democrats he had been vilifying for the entire election year.
Together, this diabolical Gang prepared a solution to one of the most pressing problems: the 10 to 30 million Mexicans living illegally in the U.S. It was an unimaginable side-effect of the law that Ronald Reagan signed, waving in 1 to 3 million Mexicans but promising to slam the door shut just behind them, that even more arrived.
The Gang of Eight bill proposed to give these newcomers a "pathway to citizenship" so that they could "come out of the shadows" and especially escape their squalid lives of Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, Permanent Disability, and weekly street protests for higher benefits, and perhaps even find work, which would not come at the expense of any American citizens. Americans were promised that:
- The newcomers would have to pay all their back taxes and even stop using stolen Social Security numbers.
- The newcomers would have to assimilate, and even learn English. Obama would insist on it!
- The newcomers would have to pay a penalty, file real government forms, and wait their turn before they could be rewarded for having done none of the above.
- We would really start work on the border fence that Reagan was promised we would start work on.
Best of all, it was a "comprehensive reform," which either means it reforms everything, or that it is a bill large enough to hide the most indefensible things inside.
George W. Bush, who reportedly had a lot of "political capital" from his 2004 re-election, had lost most of it with his "comprehensive immigration reform that avoids amnesty" (which translates to "amnesty"). Rubio masterfully crafted the Gang of Eight bill to avoid using the word "amnesty" at all. Best of all, in another Crist-like feint, Rubio disavowed the bill, side-stepping off this legislative bus just before it would crash into that unbuilt wall.
No sooner was Rubio elected to the U.S. Senate than he began to be discussed as a possible Republican candidate for President in the 2012 election, a perfect way for the Party to deny the perennial charges that it was full of racist old white men. Rubio disclaimed interest in the post, and the Republicans instead nominated Mitt Romney, to tout the benefits of wealth and privilege. He vetted Rubio for Vice President, and the veterinarian said Rubio had had all the required shots and was not rabid, but Romney stuck with wealth and privilege and picked Paul Ryan with whom to go down in flames.
The Republican Party turned to Rubio to give the opposition response to Barack Obama's 2013 State of the Union address. Memories were still fresh of the time that the Party tapped Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana to do so in 2009, and Jindal bored the nation to tears, especially the part where he started reciting line-items from the Louisiana state budget.
Rubio shone in the role. His speech was the first nationally televised speech given mostly in a foreign language. Republicans yearning to capture a majority of foreigners voting illegally believed Rubio was the key. The only thing the Democratic Party could criticize was when Rubio sipped from a bottle of water part way through his speech. This was scandalous, although Rubio avoided slurping, belching, or spilling anything on his lapels. He did not even laugh so hard that water came out his nose.
The 2016 campaignEdit
"Wait your turn," however, remained the Republican theme, and Jeb Bush asserted (not unlike Hillary Clinton) that he had waited patiently behind his father and older brother and now it was his turn. While Rubio had nonwhite skin, which was suddenly fashionable, Bush had a famous surname, though it too had recently been darkened, as rumors that he shared his brother's double gene for gravitas deficiency had turned into reality. Jeb (who was not Hispanic but occasionally claimed to be) took offense that Rubio had cut in front of him, and much of Jeb's $130 million campaign that "all my opponents are dolts" seemed focused on Rubio, who had been out campaigning when key bills were voted on in the Senate, whereas Jeb had planned ahead and given himself the entire six years off.
Candidate Ben Carson was equally Floridian and equally nonwhite, though he had a monster case of stage fright. But Rubio had an even bigger problem: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas had also jumped into the race. Cruz had both of Rubio's qualifications:
- Nonwhite skin, and
- A single, unfinished term in the U.S. Senate.
Also, while Rubio had been for the Gang of Eight bill before he was against it, its author before he became its victim, Cruz was simply against, against, and against — a platform that at least had admirable consistency.
For Republicans, however, consistency is always secondary to back-slapping. Jeb Bush had a pedigree for "bipartisanship" but never quite explained why he should be President. Rubio, a proven back-slapper in his own right, picked up support as fast as Jeb could bleed it away. Before the Iowa caucuses, Cruz visited each of the state's 970 counties, as they are all pretty square and don't move around; while Donald Trump found something to visit other than the stage for the final debate. Cruz leapfrogged over Trump into first place, but Rubio "won Iowa" with a stunning third-place finish.
- New Hampshire
Rubio hoped to build on this surprise victory when the campaign moved to New Hampshire. In the debate there, Chris Christie and John Kasich portrayed Rubio as too scripted (during breaks between the three of them plus Jebbers accusing each other of being not really conservative). This was an era in which Obama had brought disrepute on the TelePrompTer itself, and Rubio fell into the trap by repeating a scripted script that we should "dispel this notion that Obama doesn't know what he's doing." This would mean that Obama is wrecking America on purpose and not merely by being klutzy.
Now, no one can see inside Obama's mind, surely including Obama himself, but Obama would not be on the 2016 ballot, and that makes two good reasons not to take four sips out of that particular rhetorical water bottle. Yet Rubio welcomed talk radio to repeat his repetitions, so listeners would be sure to hear him attack Obama's malfeasance as though Rubio had not spent six years reaching across the aisle to play a bit part in it.
The next day, in a speech in Nashua, YouTube caught Rubio with a deer-in-the-headlights look worthy of Dan Quayle as once again, like some rhythm-and-blues singer trying to do the National Anthem before a ball game, he performed the same stanza twice in the exact same cadence. His mouth was on autopilot but his supporters had parachuted out. That left 48 states to campaign in.
The campaign moved on to the Silver State, and Rubio again edged out Cruz for First Place in the Republican contest assuming that Trump spontaneously burst into flames or disappeared. Cruz insisted that only he had ever beaten Trump, but that was back in Iowa, electoral eons ago, credited to Cruz's "terrific ground game" that somehow had carried no county at all in South Carolina. As Number Two and Number Three battled to a standstill, the GOP chairman schemed to use Romney-era rules for the Nominating Convention and stage-whispered rumors about Trump's taxes to clear out the people's choice.
- Super Tuesday
Rubio sensed that voters needed to see yet another facet of his "personality," and began to do what was winning for Trump: vulgar personal attacks. In the notorious February debate, Rubio started savaging Trump without even waiting for loaded questions from the "moderators." After the debate, Rubio guessed that Trump was incontinent and had a small penis. Trump shot back that Rubio applied makeup with a trowel; Trump himself hates makeup, stemming from an unfortunate incident with orange-colored moisturizer.
The new strategy paid off. Rubio won the caucuses in Minnesota and the election in Puerto Rico, a territory that has no vote for President but which Republicans charitably give a minor role in the nomination. Trump and Cruz won everywhere else, and not in that order, but Rubio was finally in double digits of delegates.
However, on March 15, both he and John Kasich of Ohio were desperate for the psychological victory of winning their own home state, as Cruz had already won his, in Texas. In the 21st century, this was becoming a rarity. Neither Al Gore nor even hanging chads could save the nation from George W. Bush, because Gore could not hold Tennessee, because Gore could not hold a handgun. John McCain carried none of the however-many states he has homes in, and Barack Obama won two terms despite never carrying Kenya. A Rubio win in Florida would keep his campaign alive. Not his campaign to derail Trump; only Cruz might do that. A Rubio win in Florida would keep alive Rubio's campaign to be Trump's Vice President.
It was not to be. While Kasich carried Ohio and declared himself ready to "go all the way to Cleveland," which no one else in America wants to do, Rubio lost big in his home state despite his refined and more nuanced position on illegal immigration: that the American people demand firm promises, after which we will redouble our efforts to solve the problem. Rubio was "going all the way"...to the nearest Jai-Alai frontón, to spend the first day of the rest of his life after politics.
|Candidates in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election|
|Jeb Bush | Ben Carson | Chris Christie | Ted Cruz | Carly Fiorina | Jim Gilmore | Mike Huckabee | John Kasich | Rand Paul | Rick Perry | Marco Rubio | Rick Santorum | |
|Hillary Clinton | Bernie Sanders|