If JFK’s book “Profiles in Courage” has a sequel called “Profiles in Cowardice,” this is likely to be the first chapter. The case of Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio.
Once upon a time, immigration reform advocates felt they had a strong voice in Rubio who had steadfastly proposed meaningful immigration reform that went beyond a perfunctory legislative action. But then two things happened 1)when Rubio seriously proposed it he ran into a buzzsaw of opposition from conservatives and talk show hosts who dutifully had him on their programs but dissed him or suggested he was misinformed later, and, 2)there was the sudden rise of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz who also seems poised to make a run for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination and who overtook Rubio as the party’s rising conservative star.
So now Rubio is backing away from his own bill. And, yes, there is spin from his side but even a can of Heinz Baked Beans on the shelf at Albertson’s grocery on Carmel Mountain Road in Rancho Penasquitos can look at what’s Rubio doing and will say: “He’s running away from his own proposed law because he wants to run for President and sees its not just a hard sell among the GOP’s powerful far right, but a no sell.” The details:
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) does not think the bill he helped draft and pass through the Senate should be combined with House-passed legislation, spokesman Alex Conant told TPM and Politico in stories published on Monday.
Rubio has been backing away from the bill, which he drafted with the so-called “gang of eight,” since its passage in June, saying the House should work its will instead. But House Republicans plan to take a very different approach to the one Rubio pushed through with significant bipartisan support only four months ago.
House Republicans, basically, will propose a bill that will likely be rejected by many of the longtime proponents of immigration reform because many House Republicans and their constituencies don’t want immigration reform.
The reason, according to Conant, is that he — not wrongly — thinks the “gang of eight” bill is opposed by majority of Republicans in the House and has always favored a piecemeal approach. While the House GOP is unlikely to pass the comprehensive bill, advocates hope it can be combined in a conference committee with whatever the House passes. But Rubio doesn’t think that should happen, although he does not necessarily oppose going to conference and limiting the scope to what the House approves on its own, Conant said.
“The point is that at this time, the only approach that has a realistic chance of success is to focus on those aspects of reform on which there is consensus through a series of individual bills,” he told TPM in an email. “Otherwise, this latest effort to make progress on immigration will meet the same fate as previous efforts: failure.”
Rubio received pushback from some conservatives for his support of comprehensive immigration reform, and has gone mostly silent on the issue. Conant told Politico and TPM, giving the same quote to both publications, that the senator supported comprehensive reform “despite strong opposition within his own party and at a significant and well documented political price.”
Yes, the spin can be repeated by Rubio so he can still make a Presidential run. But it’s uncertain if he’ll get the nomination.
What’s certain is that he could quality for the first chapter in the sequel — and even be on the cover of the new book.
UPDATE: The National Review’s Rich Lowery says it seems unprecedented that the architect of a bill opposed its own passage in the House and adds:
The politics of this aren’t great for Rubio: He has already, rightly, taken a political hit for crafting and promoting the Gang of Eight bill (which probably wouldn’t have gotten out of the Senate without his spirited support); now he is going to take another hit, understandably, for his inconstancy. But his stance marginally strengthens opponents of a conference, and we need all the help we can get
And that seems to be Rubio’s intent: to sacrifice on the alter of personal ambition something he had once passionately argued was both political and morally important and smart to do.
Forget about the spin and Rubio is basically now syhing: Morals, schmorals, this is big time politics folks. Sort of brings to mind the late Jessica Savitch exploding at a broadcasting snafu:
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.