Birtherism redux: The left's attack on Marco Rubio's origins

What’s more worrisome, however, is the rather hypocritical way Democrats and liberals are now pouncing on the Post piece as some sort of Nixonian smoking gun. If there is one thing that Americans left of center should have learned from the ugly birthers-vs.-Obama episode, it’s that the country has got to extract our politics from character assaults that are as civically trivial as they are socially corrosive. Democratic leaders like Matt Canter, spokesman for the party’s Senatorial Campaign Committee, apparently didn’t get that memo. In an overheated release Friday titled “Rubio’s Chronic Credibility Problem,” Canter declared, “We know [Rubio is] is a Tea Partier who wants to dismantle Medicare and cut Social Security, but the latest [Washington Post] bombshell confirms that Rubio seriously struggles to tell the truth and can’t be trusted.”

Canter went on to say that the Post report “shows that Rubio embellished the facts of his biography, a key narrative that Rubio used during his Senate campaign last year.” Aside from calling the Post story a “bombshell,” there’s something else wrong with this: Rubio’s exile parentage, while it’s the sort of bio point any politician would hype, was not a “key narrative” that got him elected. What got Marco Rubio elected was a combination of precocious political smarts, Tea Party backing and, sorry Mr. Canter, a weak Democratic candidate whose own party in the end seemed to prefer Florida Governor Charlie Crist, the moderate Republican who went independent when it was obvious he couldn’t beat Rubio in the GOP primary.

Nevertheless, liberal groups this weekend are trying to turn the Post piece into Exile-gate. Advocacy organizations like American Bridge 21st Century are featuring Fox News interviews with Rubio on their websites that they claim catch him in the act of lying to the American electorate about his family history. But they, in turn, are simply getting caught in the act of taking the same personal potshots they denounce the Tea Party for firing at Obama. Just as it’s never enough for the right to question his policies – they have to annihilate his citizenship, his Christianity – now the left looks determined to show that it’s not enough to criticize Rubio’s positions – they need to obliterate an otherwise genuine and impressive story of Cuban immigrants, a bartender and a hotel maid, whose son became a U.S. Senator.