Political Hay

Politicians of a Feather

Will the House rain on Marco’s parade?

By 7.1.13

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If the free-style understatement were an Olympic event, Marco Rubio could retire the gold with his comment on the reaction he’s gotten for carrying the political left’s water on the Senate immigration hair ball, to wit: “There will be no parade for me on this issue.”

Verdad. If what I’m hearing from conservative Florida Republicans is representative of the species -- and I believe it is -- if Marco gets a parade on immigration he will be at the head of it, tarred and feathered. (Bringing to mind what Mark Twain said about the prospect of being tarred and feathered: “Except for the honor, I’d as soon skip it.”) At the moment, Florida’s conservative base wouldn’t elect Marco assistant county rat-catcher.

This is the more sad as Marco was so recently the darling of the right. And he is still sound on so many issues. He was the great Republican hope -- young, smart, attractive, able to articulate conservative positions in ways palatable to non-movement types. He comes from a swing state with bo-koo electoral votes (so many as to be 29). And he has a Spanish last name and speaks Spanish fluently.

In today’s identity politics, having a Spanish last name and speaking Spanish fluently is thought to be important. And it probably is, though it’s an unproven assumption that people with Spanish last names vote for Democrats out of ethnic solidarity rather than simply for the goodies Democratic policies shower on everyone (except those who have to pay for them).

The suck up to Hispanics at every opportunity to make them vote for you strategy is catechism to highly paid Washington political consultants (whose clients have lost more elections than one can count). This is likely more fashion than insight. Hispanics are a natural Democratic constituency -- the reasons for this have been exhaustively covered elsewhere and don’t need repeating. My strong suspicion is that if the Chairman of the Republican National Committee personally presented every person with a Spanish last name on Earth and on the closer planets with a Get Into and Stay in America Free Card, Republicans would get no bigger slice of the Hispanic vote next election cycle than they did last time around.

But with all this love and all these assets, a funny thing happened on the way to Marco’s inauguration. Totally unexpectedly, Marco stepped in his political mess kit. He did a 180 on a critical issue, thereby forfeiting the trust of the very voters he must have if his political career is to proceed.

Running for the Senate in 2010, Marco said what conservatives wanted to hear about not rewarding line-cutters and lawbreakers by given them amnesty -- by awarding them the prize beyond price these folks want, the right to live in the America whose gate they illegally crashed. Then, a few months back, Marco baffled his huge fan club by turning on a dime and giving them nine cents change. He signed on with Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer’s plan to make 11 million citizens of other countries illegally here permanent American residents, and, in due course, Democratic voters.

This has been all too much for the conservative base, whose members are nimble enough to recognize the obvious -- paying for the 11 million here and the millions more low-skill or no-skill border-hoppers the “Let’s Annex Mexico and Bankrupt America Bill of 2013” would entice here would cost America trillions it doesn’t have. It would also drive down the wages and job prospects of real Americans competing for the low and unskilled jobs that remain in our economy.

Marco’s and the country’s only hope is that Republican House members will have sufficient moments of clarity not to fall for the amnesty scam. Those who resist the idea that the United States should be the northern terminus of Central America are praying that John Boehner is smarter and more purposeful than he sounds and demonstrates most of the time.

If the House scuttles the Senate’s very bad plan, voters may forget Rubio’s apostasy on this issue and keep him in their starting political lineup. If the House buckles, and the results of the hair ball are what there is every reason to anticipate they will be, Marco’s political ascendancy is over.

I’ve seen enough conservative campaigners who “grow in office” not to care about Marco’s career. He clearly doesn’t believe what he’s saying on this issue, is acting cynically, and is therefore not to be trusted. But I care a great deal about the country, which will suffer mightily by inviting in a significant fraction of the third world. People who say this isn’t the likely result of a law as the Senate bill stands will misunderstand or lie about other things as well.

Photo: UPI

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About the Author

Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.