Yesterday, a friend wrote me with the "good news" that should make me "smile," that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) would be giving the Republican Party's response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address. It's a platform of high visibility, but risky results. In recent years, would-be GOP presidential hopefuls Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) is still recovering from his disastrous attempt; former-Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) is out of politics, heading up Purdue University; and Paul Ryan is back in the House, and not the White House.
The thing is, unless Mr. Rubio screws up on the high wire and does an awful, embarrassing job (like Bobby Jindal, in particular, did), no, this doesn’t make me smile. I find him sort of a “dangerous” guy – a pandering, borderline demagogue with no experience and substance, who's done nothing in the Senate, and who is clearly a hugely growing star in the GOP and a leading candidate for their nomination, because he looks reasonable (despite my friend's contention about his ears -- he obsesses about ears, including the president's...) and as an Hispanic gives off the false-impression that, see, the Republican Party cares about Hispanics and all minorities. Forget that whole "build a fence on the Mexican border, put up barriers to keep blacks from voting in long lines, and block the Dream Act" thing. No, the GOP has a young, Hispanic as the Fresh Face of the Republican Party! Except they don't, they have flim-flam.
And now there's Marco Rubio on the cover of Time magazine, with the blaring headline, "The Republican Savior." And right below, it says, "How Marco Rubio became the new voice of the GOP." Except...he's not. Mr. Rubio is no more the "new voice" of the GOP than Michael Phelps is the new voice of Subway. He's a front man, a surface spokesman, a shill to get you to buy the product. And the product of the Republican Party is still the same. If Marco Rubio wasn't a senator, just some guy on the street, far too many in the GOP wouldn't look at him as a savior, but rather someone who they hoped might prefer to "self-deport" himself back to Mexico with all his fellow illegals. Never mind that he's not from Mexico, his family isn't from Mexico, and he's not illegal. That's just nitpicking. A rose by any other name.
The new voice, indeed. Any day now, I expect to hear us being told that Marco Rubio is mainstream and part of the "kinder, gentler" GOP. A compassionate conservative. Marco Rubio is kinder, gentler, compassionate and mainstream the same way George Bush was, when Karl Rove was razzle-dazzling everyone from behind.
So, no, I’m not crazy about Marco Rubio on any platform – and this is a tall one. High enough to raise his empty-shirt, disingenuous, radical far-right profile. Unless, he screws up. Which is possible, though he’s a fairly capable speaker, especially small bites. We'll find out. Maybe this is a bigger bite than he can chew, and the camera will bore in on him and reveal how much nothingness is there, falling off the edge of the deeply conservative right.
I think that Marco Rubio is the GOP's savior to many in the Republican Party. He just isn't their new voice. Just the same, cold-hearted, mean-spirited, empty one, filling the echo chamber with his bunko act.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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