Marco Rubio hasn’t been in Washington all that long, but one hopes he’s been here long enough not to take advice from the Washington Post. Yet, the Post offers him some in its lead editorial of today.
The Post (print edition) advises Rubio that he can be a “tea party darling” or “the architect of a historic immigration bill,” but he can’t be both.
The Post so informs Rubio in response to his alleged “public wavering” on immigration reform legislation. To my knowledge, that “wavering” consists of his statement that legislation hasn’t been agreed upon (or even written) yet, plus his statement that when legislation is written, public hearings should be held and all Senators should be heard. The first statement is indisputable; the second is what Rubio has said all along.
The Post’s editorial thus reflects the left’s eagerness to have Rubio do the Post’s bidding, and Chuck Schumer’s, by leading a critical mass of Republicans to back amnesty and a path to citizenship for millions of likely future Democratic constituents. It does not, unfortunately, reflect wavering by Rubio.
In any event, Rubio already understands that he can’t be “a tea party darling” and the champion of comprehensive immigration. A more helpful editorial would advise him that he need not be either.
Rubio could support immigration reform that stops short of providing a path to citizenship for millions of illegal aliens. Such legislation wouldn’t pass, and therefore wouldn’t be “historic.” But passing legislation for the sake of history need not be Rubio’s mission. Obamacare is historic — a historic error.
But isn’t the lesson of 2012 that Rubio (to the extent he aspires to become president) must fall into line on amnesty and a path to citizenship in order to avoid what the Post calls a “spanking” from Hispanic voters? Not really. By virtue of his ethnicity, his personality, and support of moderate immigration reform, Rubio can perform much better among Hispanics than Romney did. And even running very poorly among Hispanics, Romney ran a fairly close race, as challenges to incumbent presidents go.
Rubio also does not need to be a “tea party darling” in the sense the Post means — i.e., a hero to only the conservative-most faction of the Republican Party. And holding the line on immigration reform certainly would not relegate him to that status.
By refusing to do the bidding of Chuck Schumer and the Washington Post, Rubio will maintain the strong respect of a large cross-section of Republicans, not just one faction. That’s because most Republicans oppose a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. Indeed, I’m not aware that the tea party faction — whose focus is on reduced federal spending, limited government, and individual freedom — is any more opposed to such “reform” than Republicans generally.
The risk for Rubio is losing the genuine respect of the large cross-section of Republicans who oppose Schumeresque immigration reform, not losing the feigned respect of the Washington Post.