Marco Rubio: Biden's cabinet is a bunch of polite, Ivy League caretakers of American decline

Marco’s working hard lately to rebrand himself as a leading populist voice of the post-Trump GOP. If you read this post, you know why.

I like Rubio the economic populist. Rubio the cultural populist is less appealing, partly because that act is a con. Marco is not and never has been a politician who traffics much in resentment, to his credit. If that’s going to be his new shtick as he tries to ingratiate himself to Trump’s base just in case you-know-who doesn’t run again in 2024, it’s going to be a douchey four years.

In fact, in a way, this tweet reminds me of that three-day period during the 2016 primary when he started making jokes on the campaign trail about Trump having a small dong. He quickly abandoned the idea because it just wasn’t true to who he is and everyone could see that. Same with this. And yeah, there’s a primary angle here too.

Ivy League credentials are a bad thing in a high government official? Someone should tell the president, who’s an Ivy Leaguer himself and surrounded by many other Ivy alums:

You know who else has an Ivy League degree? Harvard Law grads Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton and Yale Law grad Josh Hawley, all potential Rubio opponents in 2024 or 2028. That’s the primary angle I meant. Rubio is a graduate of the Universities of Florida and Miami. If he can get a little class grievance going among the GOP base towards nerds with Ivy diplomas, that can only help him down the road.

As for the substance of his tweet, that Biden’s cabinet will be weak towards emerging threats, the man may have a point:

President-Elect Joe Biden announced additional nominations to his cabinet on Monday, including a National Security Adviser who has advocated for supporting China’s “rise” in the past

“We need to strike a middle course – one that encourages China’s rise in a manner consistent with an open, fair, rules-based, regional order,” [Jake] Sullivan said. “This will require care and prudence and strategic foresight, and maybe even more basically it will require sustained attention. It may not have escaped your notice that these are not in ample supply in Washington right now.”…

Sullivan reasoned that a thriving China, specifically from an economic standpoint, was good for the global economy, though it depends on the “parameters of the system within which China is rising.”

There’s a reason why the Saudis are suddenly having secret meetings with Israel. If you expect the new administration to be weak towards Iran, and you should, then you need to make your own defense arrangements. Still, Rubio’s complaints about Biden’s foreign policy ring false in a few ways. For starters, one of Marco’s most distinguishing characteristics as a politician is his support for interventionism abroad. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call him an uberhawk in the McCain/Graham mold but he’s in the same ballpark. That being so, which party in 2020 is more likely to favor his approach to foreign policy? The team that supported civil war in Libya and escalation in Syria? Or the team that’s currently planning to draw down troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and might have withdrawn from South Korea and NATO if granted another four years in power?

Democrats, not post-Trump Republicans, are the party of humanitarian interventions in modern America. If Rubio were free to speak his mind about which presidential candidate this year has been overseeing American decline abroad, I know how I’d bet on which answer he would give.

Another reason not to worry *too* much about Biden going soft on China is that Americans just won’t allow it. Eyeball the set of graphs here showing how harshly international opinion has turned against that country over the past year. It’s not just COVID and the government’s cover-up, it’s the regime grinding Hong Kong under its boots. If you want to tell me that in his heart of hearts Biden is an accommodationist on China and would follow an accommodationist path if free to do so, I won’t argue. But the president-elect and his party don’t exist in some fantasyland insulated from electoral consequences. If they wimp out on confronting Beijing, there’ll be a price in 2022 and beyond.

In fact, China is another subject on which I’d be keen to hear Rubio speak his mind about POTUS. Six weeks before Trump entered the presidential race in 2015, Marco called TPP a “pillar” of a responsible U.S. policy towards the Far East. Bringing China’s neighbors into a free-trade agreement with the U.S. would check Beijing’s economic expansion and build a counterweight to Chinese power in the region. But after Trump jumped into the race the political winds soon turned against free trade; by November of that year, with the first presidential primaries looming, Rubio was suddenly undecided about TPP. Trump got elected, of course, and withdrew from the treaty three days after taking office in 2017. Fast-forward to this morning and now it’s China, the original target of the TPP trade alliance, that’s expressing interest in joining the group. In fact, China and many of its neighbors — most of whom are in TPP — just formed a separate free-trade agreement that excludes the United States, as Trump’s government didn’t want to participate.

How’s Marco feeling about all of that? If it had happened on Biden’s watch, it would be Exhibit A in his case against the administration for being “caretakers of American decline.” Because it happened on Trump’s watch, he has nothing to say about it — or at least, nothing public. How seriously can we take him, really?