There’s no four-letter word quite as offensive to conservatives as “Reid” and Reid knows it, which means there’s no way to interpret Reid backing Jeb up here except as an attack on Bush more so than on Rubio. It’s a two-fer, of course: Reid commenting on the subject gives reporters an excuse to revisit the subject of Rubio’s absences. But it’s a more damaging blow to Jeb, since Republican voters are already suspicious of him as an avatar of the GOP establishment that’s supposedly in bed with Democrats on every important issue (save taxes).
Bush calling on Rubio to resign and then taking a ferocious beating for it is like Billy Batts telling Tommy to go get his shinebox in “Goodfellas” and then getting stomped. Now here comes Reid, a gangster to the core, to kick Jeb in the head a few times himself.
“Why shouldn’t he [resign]? He hates the Senate,” Reid said [of Rubio] in an interview with POLITICO on Thursday. “Why should the taxpayers of this country and people of Florida put up with having only one senator? Doesn’t seem fair to me.”…
In the interview, Reid dismissed Rubio as a “non-entity” in the institution he arrived in nearly five years ago – though Reid praised Rubio’s initial involvement in crafting a sweeping comprehensive immigration bill in 2013.
“For Marco Rubio here to dump on the Senate, this institution established by our founding fathers, he should be ashamed of himself,” Reid said. “And the people of Florida, why they put up with it, I don’t know. They damn sure aren’t getting their money’s worth.”
Rubio spokesman Alex Conant responded to Reid’s comments by saying: “I must have forgotten Harry Reid similarly calling on Barack Obama to resign the Senate when he missed even more votes to run for president.”
Reid answered Conant’s point by saying that Obama may have missed votes but, unlike Rubio, he loved the Senate, which makes zero sense given the substance of his criticism. If the point is giving voters their money’s worth by limiting absences, who cares how an individual senator felt about the chamber while he was skipping class? Besides, Rubio loves the Senate too in the same way that Obama did: He loves it as a stepping stone for a young, green, state legislator to acquire some national credibility before running for the office he’s really interested in. The difference between Rubio and Obama is that Rubio used his brief time there to push momentous legislation — bad legislation, in my border-hawk opinion, but evidence at least that Rubio treated the job as more than just a layover for his Hopeychangey ambitions.
The question is, why would Reid want to damage Bush this way? Why not lie low and let a Democrat whose name doesn’t make conservatives spit handle the job of needling Rubio? Two reasons, I think. One: Reid’s always hated the Bushes. He publicly called Dubya a “liar” and a “loser” while he was in office and was known to use the word “hate” to describe his feelings towards the president in private conversation. He’s probably enjoying Jeb’s flameout immensely — a rare point of agreement with the right. Two: Most Republicans, I think, believe that Rubio would be a far tougher challenge for Hillary in the general election than Jeb would, for all sorts of reasons. Rubio can contrast his age with hers; he’d be the first Latino nominee; he’d have no Bush baggage; and he’s a far superior retail politician. Democrats don’t necessarily share that assessment, though. Go back to yesterday’s YouGov poll and you’ll find that it’s Jeb Bush who leads among Democrats when they’re asked whether various Republican candidates could win the general election. Thirty-one percent of Democrats say Rubio could; 34 percent say Carson could; 39 percent say Trump could; but 45 percent say Jeb. There’s probably a lot that goes into that, starting with name recognition and fear of a Bush machine that’s won three of the four general election campaigns it’s conducted. Maybe Reid shares the sense that Bush would be formidable and that now’s the time to help finish him off by joining in on his missed-votes attack, transforming it into RINOism by association.
Speaking of lame attacks on Rubio, here’s the new one from Hillary’s Super PAC. This is how stupid the general election campaign will be, regardless of who we nominate.