Marco Rubio’s double game

Marco Rubio said on Tuesday that he doesn’t think his immigration bill can pass in the House. “It will have to be adjusted,” he told radio talk show host Mike Gallagher, “because people are very suspicious about the willingness of the government to enforce the law now.”

Rubio didn’t stop with this interesting prediction. He went on to agree that his bill needs to be improved. The Senator described suspicion that the government won’t enforce the law as “legitimate” and something he “shares.” He concluded that “if there’s anything we can do to make [his bill] even tighter. . .that’s exactly what we should be working on.”

This statement is disingenuous but revealing. It is disingenuous because there clearly are things that can be done to make the bill “tighter.” If there weren’t, his statement that the bill “will have to be adjusted” would make no sense.

The bill could be tightened in many ways. For example, it could provide for no adjustment in the status of illegal immigrants until a very high level of border security is achieved. It could give local officials the final say over when border security has been achieved. And so forth.

Rubio’s statement is revealing because it concedes that he agreed to legislation that he recognizes doesn’t do enough to address a fundamental conservative concern — the inherent inadequacy of the federal government. The admission is particularly damning because Rubio held the whip hand in the Gang of Eight negotiations. Without his consent, any proposal would be dead on arrival in the Senate, if it arrived at all.

No wonder Democrats reportedly were amazed at how much territory Rubio ceded them.

Finally, if his bill needs to be improved, then why is Rubio cutting ads that tout it as the solution to our immigration woes? In the ad I’ve see on Fox News Rubio doesn’t express any reservations about the government’s willingness or ability to enforce immigration law; to the contrary he flatly characterizes his bill as “enforceable.” He doesn’t urge people to tell their congressman to tighten the legislation.

Instead, his message is that Congress should pass his bill.

Clearly, Rubio is saying one thing to conservative talk show hosts and something else to a broader slice of the American public. He is playing a double game with the most important legislation he likely will ever be involved with.

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