Business interests want to expand the supply of cheap labor. Republican leaders want a magic bullet that’ll supposedly start to make them competitive again with Latino voters. No one but no one wants the party’s biggest young Latino star to have his presidential hopes dashed before he’s even begun to run — except of course for the handful of jerks like me who think lying bald-faced to your constituents on a key issue to get elected is a dealbreaker.
It’s time for the Republican establishment to say, “Thanks, Marco.”
Fox News viewers in Florida will see a new commercial in the coming weeks urging them to call Senator Marco Rubio. “Thank him for keeping his promise, and fighting to secure the border,” a narrator says in the ad, which is paid for by the conservative American Action Network.
Another group, Americans for a Conservative Direction, led by former Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi and other top Republicans, has been running ads in Iowa lately that implore those watching to “stand with Marco Rubio to end de facto amnesty.”…
[M]any of the most powerful and well-financed forces in the party are moving to provide cover for the Florida senator and Republicans like him who are pushing to overhaul the nation’s immigration system…
As the party assesses its chances for the 2016 presidential campaign, many Republican strategists believe that they need as robust a primary field as possible, with more than just one or two viable potential contenders.
Americans for Prosperity also made Rubio the keynote speaker at its annual conference. He’s not the only one benefiting from this PR bankroll — Paul Ryan, who’ll soon assume the Rubio role in selling amnesty to the House, gets some mentions in ads too — but Rubio’s become the face of reform and therefore has the most to lose as the grassroots backlash builds. I saw some commenters grumbling last night about me insisting repeatedly that we’ll all fall in line come 2016 for Rubio, his betrayal on immigration notwithstanding. Not true: I don’t think all conservatives will fall in line in the primary. He’s lost some of us for good during that round. What I’ve been emphasizing is that there’s no reason to think Rubio’s finished simply because some conservatives will now prefer other Republican candidates. It’s the great mass of low-information voters who have real muscle in the presidential process, and it’s those voters who are most susceptible to barrages of advertising. Rubio’s been counting on that all along. His 2016 strategy vis-a-vis immigration has two parts: (1) Keep up the charm towards conservatives, no matter how ferociously they react to his betrayal, because that’ll minimize the number of righties who are lost to him irretrievably, and (2) count on big-money Beltway Republicans to shower him with cash, now and during the primaries, to woo low-information voters as his reward for carrying their water on such an explosive issue. He’s done a nifty job on both prongs, honestly. In fact, as much as some grassroots conservatives will bristle at the big establishment push for former tea-party darling Marco Rubio, it’ll actually help him with other conservatives who prioritize “electability” over (almost) everything else. Who better to take on the Democrats in 2016 than a guy with pro-amnesty money to burn?
I said last week that Rubio is sort of the Republican Obama insofar as his presidential resume consists mainly of his personal identity, his Hopenchange-y optimism, and his retail skills. Mickey Kaus says I’m analogizing to the wrong Democratic president:
Wherein lies the greatness of Marco Rubio, the shining achievements that overshadow his colossal immigration misadventure? Is he going to bring world peace? Sure, he’s against Obamacare and overregulation and abortion and tax increases.** So are a lot of Republicans, Republicans who haven’t shown a proclivity to go over to the other side when it counts. Has he ever run a state? Is he a brilliant thinker?…
Responding to Carroll on Twitter, I rashly wrote that Rubio was a “Florida pretty boy who doesn’t vet.” Then I realized that Bill Clinton had been an Arkansas pretty boy who didn’t vet. And that didn’t turn out badly (in my book). So what’s the difference between Clinton and Rubio? They’re both liars–good ones. I think it’s that Clinton’s lies tended to be mainly about his personal life. When it came to policy, he was relatively honest, at least compared with his predecessor and successor. He said he wanted to reform welfare, he said why he wanted to reform welfare, and damn if he didn’t reform welfare. Rubio is more in the Bush tradition–voters are too dumb to understand the real policy choices so you have to give them some phony red-meat reasoning.
There’s your slogan for the 2016 primaries. “Marco Rubio: Like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, all rolled into one.”
In lieu of an exit question, read Ross Douthat’s post about the media’s Strange New Respect for rich Republican donors and Super PACs (including the Koch brothers!), who normally sit somewhere between Hitler and pro-life advocates in the media hierarchy of evildoers, now that they’re pushing immigration reform. WaPo couldn’t refrain yesterday from slobbering over the “pragmatism” of amnesty shills like the Chamber of Commerce, whose “pragmatism” in protecting its economic interests wouldn’t seem so pragmatic to working- and middle-class Americans. How … odd that the press, which normally loathes wealthy Republicans for pushing a right-wing agenda, suddenly thinks that using amnesty to allegedly advance a right-wing agenda is a fine idea. I wonder why.