As Sen. Marco Rubio prepared to announce his candidacy for the 2016 GOP nomination, this observer had more questions than answers. There is something about Marco Rubio’s tendency to engage in Fourth of July rhetoric that annoys me. Style seems too often to dominate substance and like a trick pony who can count to ten, Marco can talk for fifteen minutes in response to the words, “We hold these truths.” That fiery rhetoric, coupled with his concept of “the American Century,” raises questions about his foreign policy views.
“The American Century” is an attractive turn of phrase, but for its connotations of the “internationalism” that inspired the creator of that concept, Henry Luce. For Luce, “the American Century” compels the United States “to defend and even to promote, encourage and incite … democratic principles throughout the world.”
That, of course, is what motivated President George W. Bush with disastrous results.
On the other hand, Sen. Rubio’s courage in advocating immigration reform is to be congratulated for addressing a moral issue of great importance. Millions of Hispanics who entered the United States illegally were pawns of American corporations that wanted a stream of cheap labor. We Americans accepted the benefits of lower cost agricultural products and services that millions of illegals made possible. Shall we then ignore our own culpability?
Marco Rubio’s age is of concern to some who are much older and remember the mistakes that middle age can bring. At age 44 next month, Sen. Rubio’s age works to his disadvantage — but also to his advantage.
President John F. Kennedy successfully used his youthfulness to distinguish himself from the “old man” administration of President Dwight Eisenhower and his Vice President, Richard Nixon.
But, President Kennedy’s age was also a disadvantage.
JFK was in over his head and ill-equipped to confront the challenges of the Soviet Union in Cuba and Berlin. Yes, the Cuban Missile Crisis is treated by most historians as a victory for the United States, but, that there was a crisis may be attributed to this reality: The Soviet Union smelled weakness in the young President.
Fifty years of totalitarian control of the Cuban people was a terrible price to pay for removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba. That gives authenticity to Sen. Rubio’s forceful opposition to diplomatic recognition of Castro’s Cuba.
For rock-ribbed Republicans who remember the struggle by supply-side advocates who fought traditional “root canal” policies of the old GOP, Sen. Rubio’s economic policies are good, but they could be much better. He must begin to think in terms that resonate with younger Americans who feel that the current system is rigged, that they are burdened with entitlement programs that will deprive them of the comforts their parents enjoyed, and deny them the ability to save for retirement.
Does Sen. Rubio really want to preserve the system of redistribution of wealth implicit in New Deal and Great Society programs such as Social Security and Medicare? Or do we want to give younger Americans the opportunity to caste off the obligations imposed upon them by a World War II generation that did not fear the federal government.
Sen. Rubio would do well to introduce legislation that permits Americans under forty to invest in medical savings accounts and invest a portion of income in personal retirement accounts by offsets from income withheld for Social Security and Medicare.
The appeal to the “American Century” doesn’t resonate with young Americans who carry the burden of imperial foreign policies. But that concept can be retooled to appeal to young people who are looking for a leader to lead their rebellion against a system of government programs that do not represent their interests.
If young Marco can appeal to these young Americans, nothing can stop him, over the long term, from becoming President of the United States.
Clearly, Sen. Rubio’s campaign for President is a work in progress, and we’ll be watching to see who his advisors are and whether he sees his future in younger American voters or in the corporate chieftains affiliated with George H.W., George W., and Jeb Bush.
So, let’s ask the question, “Who are the advisors Marco Rubio has recruited for his campaign?”
George Seay, Texas investment advisor and grandson of former Texas Governor, William Clements, who previously worked for Rick Perry, considers himself a national security expert. Jim Rubright, who had previously worked for Jeb Bush and John McCain, is former CEO of publicly traded RockTenn, a manufacturer of corrugated cartons. Both have been recruited as advisors but neither has a record that suggests they are reliable on “policy.” Anna Rogers, finance director for Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, will manage fundraising. His communications person, Alex Conant, was press secretary to moderate Republican Tim Pawlenty.
From this initial lineup, it appears that Marco Rubio’s principal policy advisor is Marco Rubio.
Compare that to Newt Gingrich, a person known for his arrogance who in 2012 fielded a formidable national security team including Norman Bailey and Ken deGraffenreid, and Reagan-era Undersecretary of State for security assistance, Bill Schneider. Schneider had worked for U.S. Senator Jim Buckley before appointment to the U.S. Department of State by President Reagan.
It is far too early to reach a final judgment as to who actually Marco Rubio is, but, it is troubling that there is very little “Tea Party” on the Rubio team.
Does that suggest that a calculated decision has been made to distinguish Sen. Rubio’s candidacy from Rand Paul and Ted Cruz?
Is moving to the center of benefit to his long-term career?
Has Marco Rubio authorized his advisors to “package” him for the main chance that he can win in 2016? I hope not because he, like Scott Walker, Marco Rubio will be a better candidate in 2020 than he is now.