David Harsanyi makes the case for Marco Rubio, who entered the presidential race yesterday. The case is this: “When it comes to natural political talent, it unlikely the GOP can do better” than Rubio.
Harsanyi may well be right. We don’t know how Rubio will perform as a candidate over the long haul, but all indications are that he is a gifted politician.
But what kind of president would Rubio make? Surely the question is relevant, particularly because there may be other GOP hopeful who could run well against Hillary Clinton.
Here we come to the case against Rubio.
Rubio has been in the Senate for a little more than four years. During this time, his only major accomplishment was sponsoring and helping to pass (in the Senate) comprehensive immigration reform, which included amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
This is the essence of Rubio’s record. Sure, he cast plenty of good votes. But his votes don’t distinguish him appreciably from his rivals, most of whom either did or would have voted the same way on virtually everything except immigration reform.
Rubio has walked away from his comprehensive immigration reform legislation, so we need not discuss its flaws. In effect, they are stipulated.
It’s one thing to be too soft on immigration. I’d bet that, deep down, most of the serious GOP presidential contenders are; some are soft even on the surface.
Nor is Rubio the only GOP contender to have flip-flopped on the issue. Neither Jeb Bush nor Scott Walker has been a model of consistency.
But Rubio is the only serious contender (I don’t consider Lindsey Graham serious) who (1) reached across the aisle to collaborate on amnesty/path to citizenship legislation, (2) was rolled by Chuck Schumer and company into sponsoring a bill he no longer stands behind, and (3) helped smear key opponents of his legislation and, when called on this, did not disavow the smear.
A president will have to work with Democrats at times. Personally, I want a president who, when appropriate, is willing to do so. But I want that president to outmaneuver, or at a minimum hold his own with, the Democrats he works with. And I don’t want that president to demonize those in his own party who question the fruits of his collaboration with Democrats.
If we’re going to nominate a candidate for president who fails to meet this standard, why not nominate Lindsey Graham? At least he attacks his Republican critics head on, rather than relying on surrogates.
Marco Rubio is smart, likable, talented, and conservative. One day, I hope he has a record of conservative accomplishment that will make it easy for me to support him for president. Right now, there are precious few accomplishments that offset his collaboration with Chuck Schumer, just two years ago, on comprehensive immigration reform.