I doubt that a Democratic president would stop supporting the dissidents in Venezuela or stop cracking down on Chinese trade abuses; he or she might even implement those policies more consistently and effectively than Trump has done. (Trump is already tiring of the Venezuela policy that Rubio has advocated.) It’s true, however, that a Democrat probably would reinstate the emissions limits on power plants that Trump is repealing and that are necessary to fight global warming. A Democrat might very well undo Trump’s tax cut, which has sent the deficit soaring without having any significant impact on economic growth. And a Democrat would no doubt appoint pro-choice, rather than antiabortion, judges.
But do you know what a Democratic president probably wouldn’t do? A Democrat wouldn’t obstruct justice, ignore congressional subpoenas, break campaign finance laws, malign the FBI or invite foreign interference in our elections. A Democrat wouldn’t engage in racism or xenophobia to win votes. A Democrat wouldn’t vilify immigrants and lock children in cages. A Democrat wouldn’t call the media the “enemy of the people” and accuse the opposition of treason. A Democrat would not lie incessantly. A Democrat would not trash America’s allies — or kowtow to dictators such as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The old Rubio — the silver-tongued, high-minded orator who attracted me to his campaign in 2015 — would have cared about that. The new Rubio doesn’t. Whatever he tells himself, his motivation is obvious to all: He needs to stay on the good side of the “con man” to keep his Senate seat in 2022 and to stand a shot at winning the White House himself in 2024.