Marco Rubio has been tapped to give the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post takes the occasion to declare Rubio “first-among-equals when it comes to the future leaders of the party.”
Thanks, Chris, but I think the Republican rank-and-file will make that determination, not liberal political reporters.
To appreciate the weakness of Cillizza’s claim, let’s recall the Republicans who have delivered the previous responses to Obama’s State of the Union address. They are: Mitch Daniels (2012), Paul Ryan (2011), Bob McDonnell (2010), and Bobby Jindal (Obama’s 2009 Address to Congress). All are estimable Republicans, but only Ryan could have remotely been viewed as “first among equals” in terms of future party leadership.
The task of responding to the president typically falls on the party’s latest “bright new thing.” That, I think, is a fair characterization of Rubio, Ryan, McConnell, and Jindal — though not of Daniels.
In his eagerness to push Rubio, Cillizza posits that Republicans urgently need an attractive figure with whom to counter President Obama. But that is not the case. The Republicans did fine countering Obama in 2010 without a charismatic figure acting as a Party leader.
In Rubio’s case, I predict that if he serves as the front-man for the kind of immigration reform being pushed by liberal Democrats (plus John McCain and Lindsey Graham), he will cease to be “among equals” in terms of party leadership, never mind first among them. I also suspect that liberals like Cillizza are touting Rubio for Party leadership as a reward for his role in pushing for immigration reform that eventually will swell the voting rolls with reliably Democratic votes.