A friend of mine called to yell at me about Wednesday’s blog on Marco Rubio, whom, my friend supposed, I was defending. Well I was, in part.
We cannot live in a nation in which people bend to the fringe, in this case the same whacko-birthers who would disagree with Christ Himself if he appeared and told them President Obama is a citizen and is legally entitled to hold his office, having won the votes of more than 69 million of his fellow Americans in a fair election.
When does this nuttiness end? Now, because a senator’s parents were born outside the United States he cannot be Vice President or President? Nonsense. The other side of me, however, disdains the politician who wants to have it both ways – and Rubio clearly does. But there is much more to the story.
Note: the author served in the Clinton and Obama administrations.
In conveying the idea that he is part of the Cuban exile community that fled Castro when in fact his parents departed Cuba for purely economic reasons, Rubio spun the kind of narrative that candidates for high office require. But his pushing back is against The Washington Post, whose editors published the story that now threatens to ensnare Rubio in his own deception – and not the birthers.
In so doing, Rubio might not be worthy for higher office because he does not appreciate the larger truth: That the birther movement is the angry expression of the part of the nation’s population that is reacting to its new demography.
Rubio evidently does not realize that throughout the country too many of his fellow party members, like the birthers, are reacting to the nation’s changing demographics in the kind of negative, predictable ways that good leaders would decry – except that Rubio does not. Yet large segments of his party seek to diminish HispanicLatinos and their standing. For that same reason, any of the Republican presidential candidates who have not denounced the birthers are giving aid and comfort to anti-HispanicLatino sentiment. The promise of young and talented men and women like Rubio is that they might be able to help the nation transition into a new chapter in its life, not enable the crazies.
However the Post might confront one important HispanicLatino with lofty aspirations, it is not as damaging as the actions of Republican-controlled legislatures passing real laws that push minorities back into the 1950’s with regressive new laws on voter registration and identification that will restrict the very freedoms at the ballot box that Rubio’s parents did not enjoy in the days of the military dictatorship that preceded the Castro regime. Republicans in states they control are slashing education budgets and in the process myopically crippling America’s future.
When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke at the Reagan Library last month in California, I thought I saw its former governor, Pete Wilson, sitting on the front row. Wilson was the man who in his re-election bid in 1994 ushered in the modern-day reaction against HispanicLatinos that has now swept the nation. I wonder if Wilson was in the room at the same library in August when Marco Rubio gave his own coming-out address that, no, by no means, was meant to signal that, yes, yes, he is very interested in being on the national ticket.
Rubio is very much eligible to be Vice President of the United States. But he might not be qualified for the demands of our times. Nevertheless, his rights should be defended. Too bad he cannot bring himself to do the same for others.
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