In a June 19th column, “Rand and Rubio”, NY Times columnist Ross Douthatwrites, “As The American Spectator’s Jim Antle pointed out last month, Rubio and Paul have followed similar paths to prominence. Both were discouraged from running for the Senate by party leaders.” While Doughat’s editorial doesn’t amplify the assertion — that now US Senator Rubio was an “outsider”–, quoting the Spectator in this case shows how the media can echo a deliberate evasion until it carries the imprimatur of truth. Since Rubio is being cultivated by insiders to run on a future presidential ticket, as carefully as a hothouse rose, the point must not be lost.
There is no evidence — none– that Marco Rubio was “discouraged from running for the Senate by party leaders.” The opposite is the case. In 2010, then Florida Governor Charlie Crist ran as the outsider, carrying a moderate Republican wing grafted onto the state GOP with baling wire and chewing gum. Rubio represented the core of the Florida GOP that bided its time until the dagger could be firmly inserted in the Crist Senate campaign and twisted on the way out. Crist, the anti-Bush, got what was coming to him and the US Senate got a Manchurian candidate.
There are reasons right wing strategists prefer to paint Rubio as an outsider. For one, it positions him “to the rescue” of the party. To suggest Rubio is a populist coming in from the cold is rubbish. One thing the Republicans do well is get their message frames straight: Rubio plays well to TV cameras, he delivers sound bites flawlessly (without question by the mainstream press) and can garner the short attention span of the Tea Party that is, itself, moved by the GOP like a herd of cattle to the sound of a cannon.
The best way to understand the GOP in the United States is by comparison to Russian nesting dolls. In Rubio’s case, he fits in neatly somewhere in the middle sizes where the doll he nests within would be a figurine of Jeb Bush. Outsider? Not by a long shot.
Alan Farago, conservation chair of Friends of the Everglades, lives in south Florida. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org