Thursday, May 28, 2015


Responding to this post at Marco Rubio's campaign site, Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur argues that Rubio might be the Barack Obama of 2016:
A charismatic young first-term senator with with an unusual background and inspiring life story defies long odds to defeat a titan of American politics and win the presidency by capturing the country's imagination as a fresh face for a new generation.

In 2008, that was Barack Obama. Now Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who turns 44 on Thursday, is using the same playbook -- nominally aimed at presumptive Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, but conveniently doubling as a case against top Republican rival Jeb Bush -- in a similarly audacious quest for the White House.

"No one is entitled to the presidency, and no candidate has the right to skip the process of laying out a vision simply because he or she has the deepest connections in Washington or the most money in big-dollar donations," Rubio wrote in a Wednesday post on his campaign website. "In this country, what your last name is, what life you were born into, or how much money you have does not determine who you can be, where you can go, or what opportunities you can enjoy." The ostensible target was Democratic front-runner Clinton. But the carefully gender-neutral pronouns and the anti-dynastic rhetoric suggested that Rubio intended his volley to do double duty.
Um, yes, that quote could be targeted at Jeb Bush as well -- except that it appears under the bold red headline "This is What You Need To Tell Your Friends About Hillary Clinton" and under this graphic:

In any case, Kapur tells us that Rubio has great potential because he's Hispanic and because he's making a "generational argument."
"Yesterday is over, and we are never going back," Rubio proclaimed in his announcement speech. The message underneath it is buttressed by recent history: the most recent three presidents -- Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton -- were all less politically experienced than their opponents, John McCain, Al Gore, and Bob Dole. Each time the relatively fresh face defeated a known quantity with decades of experience in Washington. Rubio's bet is Americans will chose youth over experience again.
But if he's making a "generational argument" to the young, multicultural "coalition of the ascendant," then why, at least in the GOP, is his appeal primarily to old voters, at least according to a recent Pew poll (as I noted last week)?

Also note that a November 2014 Latino Decisions poll found that Rubio has a net unfavorable rating among Hispanic voters.

So why are people gushing over him? Why are Democrats gushing over him? Here's one Democrat quoted in Kapur's article:
"I would say that he [Rubio] is the Barack Obama of the Republican Party right now. His life story is captivating to people," Democratic strategist Steve McMahon said recently on Bloomberg TV's With All Due Respect, predicting Rubio will be the Republican nominee. He said the stories about his immigrant parents toiling so he could succeed "just melts your heart. It melts my heart. So I think he's got a very compelling story. And people are drawn to him."
I think some people are drawn to him -- but not the people you'd expect. In his own party, the people who are drawn to his story of a being a Latino son of an immigrant maid and bartender are the elderly.

Why would they respond to Rubio? Maybe because some of them remember being white ethnic have-nots in their youth, or hearing stories about their white ethnic parents' and grandparents' struggles. Maybe they still have a lingering belief in the notion that America is a nation of immigrants, although, because they're conservatives, they think those immigrants should de-ethnicize themselves as much as possible and expect nothing from government.

I think younger Republicans don't romanticize the quest to assimilate -- to them, members of non-European ethnic groups are people you have to keep from taking your stuff.

I'm not sure what will happen if Rubio is the general-election candidate. But first he has to win the primaries. And I'm not sure that can happen, because I'm not sure how many white people in his party really find his story captivating.


Victor said...

First, McMahon is a hack!
He's one of those Democratic consultants who I believe is really a DINO, if not an outright middle-of-the-road Republican. One of the few left. Or, should I say, one of the many who moved away from the GOP to the Democrats, but still have a lot of conservative or 3rd way views.

And Rubio appeals to the older people, because he's a cute young Cuban boy. A boy you wouldn't mind your daughter dating or marrying.
Maybe I should call it "The Ricky Ricardo Factor."

mlbxxxxxx said...

My take:

Old white voters like Rubio because he seems like a nice clean-cut young man, one of the "good ones," i.e., a minority that isn't a Democrat, and, of course, he's Cuban who have always been sanctified because of the endless struggle against godless Communism.

Young voters are not impressed as much because they have less appreciation for the endless struggle against godless Communism, so his heritage gets him no points. But mostly, I think, it is because they see him through the eyes of their peers for whom Rubio, if he moves the needle at all, is that weird water bottle doofus who, when he got his prime time chance, clearly wasn't ready for it. He has become an object of late night derision. Not an auspicious foundation for a presidential campaign.

Hispanic voters saw him cave, hard and fast, on immigration reform. I'm not sure anything else matters. They are not going to vote for someone simply on the basis of his surname and they are not going to support someone who won't fight for their issue.

Aunt Snow said...

Rubio is not charismatic.

Erik C. said...

Rubio may be properly termed a Hispanic, but as a Cuban, he doesn't have as much skin in the game as other Hispanic nationalities. Did he or his parents ever get called a "wetback" or get bugged for their papers by law enforcement?

tgchicago said...

Comparing Rubio to Obama is so silly.

Obama's first major introduction to a national audience was his 2004 Keynote Speech. That speech was praised by pretty much everybody.

Rubio's first major introduction to a national audience was his 2013 GOP Response to the State of the Union. That was remembered by pretty much everybody as the awkward water bottle moment.

That's night and day.