Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Today's The Washington Post has a story about a political science course at Florida International University for which Marco Rubio is one of the two instructors. Yesterday, a nearly identical story appeared at Politico. Both stories tell us that Rubio uses the class to hint as his presidential ambitions, but both stories also tell us that Rubio keeps his partisanship in check, telling his students a lot about the mechanics of modern politics instead.

Why is Rubio doing so interested publicizing this course? These stories appeared shortly after the rising star in GOP presidential politics, Scott Walker, was seen taking aim at his state's university system, then walking his attack back. But does Rubio really think that did any long-term damage to Walker's prospects in the race for the Republican nomination? (GOP voters aren't known to be big fans of college professors.) Did Walker's actions even hurt him with Establishment fat-cat donors? (I can't believe they really give a damn about the health of state university systems.)

I suppose that, to Rubio, this falls under the category of "all publicity is good publicity" -- but does it help him with the voters he'll need in the 2016 primaries if, as we learn from the Politico article, he's equating Bill Clinton and the sainted Ronald Reagan?
Rubio also talks about the political importance of drawing voters from an opponent’s base of support. He says Bill Clinton did that by backing welfare reform and balanced budgets.

“He does all these sorts of things that throws people off, and ‘triangulates’ is the term they came up with,” Rubio says. “This has happened before. Reagan did that in 1980.”
Or, worse, if he's saying negative things about anti-tax pledges, as in this 2012 Tampa Bay Times story about the course?
His objective is to make [students] understand the conditions that make "grand bargains" difficult.

That's where Clinton came in. Rubio traced the evolution of compromise under the former president, who faced a Republican Congress angling for a balanced budget, to the modern gridlock fueled by a conflict-hungry 24/7 news cycle and sharper partisan message strategies from both parties.

He spoke of no-drilling postures that may constrain Democrats and antitax pledges that hem in Republicans and why issues that have no chance of passing are put to vote anyway to get people on record and drive an election-year narrative.
(Emphasis added.)

To GOP voters, anti-tax pledges aren't a constraint -- they're a sacred pact with the voters, dammit!

I don't know why Rubio continues to teach this course if he wants to be president -- I'm sure opposition researchers are looking for any evidence, particularly audiovisual, that he's said something in the course that will alienate primary voters. If it's out there, it'll be found. Rubio's just giving himself a lot of opportunities for conservatively incorrect slip-ups.

Rubio is a young guy in a state with an old population; I can't help imagining that he thinks these stories are excellent publicity for him because they make him seem like a model son ("my son, the professor") to the kinds of voters he's sought to reach in Florida. (Similarly, he's still trying to appeal to elderly anti-communists with his hard-line stance on Cuba.)

Also, I think Rubio has a bad case of Obama envy. Obama did some college teaching, then he became president while serving his first term in the Senate during his forties -- why can't Rubio? We also see Rubio's Obama envy in this story:
On paper, Marco Rubio would only have one more year as a state legislator and two more years in the U.S. Senate than President Obama did when he took office in 2008, but the Florida senator is arguing that he has far more experience.

In an interview on the Hugh Hewitt radio show, dismissed Mr. Obama's experience as "a handful of years as a backbencher in the state legislature followed by a handful of years in the Senate," and he characterized the president's time in the senate as "not really doing anything serious about any major issues."

He also suggested that Mr. Obama's pitch as the "this young candidate that was going to bring about generational change in our policies" was misleading, since he "got elected and basically pursued the same tired, big government ideas of the last 60 years."
In the Hewitt interview, Rubio went on to say that he has real experience, not like that young whippersnapper Obama a decade ago:
MR: ... As I look at my own considerations, I’m reminded that I served nine years in the Florida legislature, the third-largest state in the country. I was its presiding officer for two years, and also ran the Florida House from and administrative point of view, served four years in the Senate where I have dedicated significant amount of time to both travel and study and actually involved in shaping the policies on everything from the Western Hemisphere to policies in Asia. And I think that obviously not just me, but there are others as well out there running who’ll bring to the table characteristics that are much different from the person who currently occupies the office.
You know what? I actually think this will work for Rubio. I think he'll get way more votes for in the 2016 presidential primaries than Barack Obama.


mlbxxxxxx said...

Maybe he's trying to develop a little appearance of gravitas. He always comes off as kind of callow to me.

Victor said...

I think our conservatives believe Moses must have been drunk when he left off what really should have been the First Commandment:

Thou Shall Not Tax!

Victor said...

Rubio might want to let well enough alone, and let most people think he's an empty-suit, rather than prove to them that he's a suit-dummy!

oc democrat said...

Just Strategerizing here, BUTT:

A few years ago, it was mentioned that the Koch brothers were trying to look like CHAMPS helping build a
school at FSU, but they played FSU as CHUMPS by allowing the Kochs to pick Professors for Their school.

FSU, FUI, every school in Florida seems to sound the SAME!

oc democrat said...

Even FIU sounds the same!

Ten Bears said...

Pandering to a population of vocational alumni, notably business majors, who count themselves among the literate, though in reality they are naught but trained monkeys. Little Eeichmen.

Tea Baggers.