Friday, June 05, 2015


Factor out the pro-Establishment types who are telling pollsters they back Jeb Bush and the contest for the Republican presidential nomination is basically a grievance Olympics. Scott Walker became the early front-runner because he tells a story of being attacked by "union thugs" and other evil liberals who forced him into a recall elections just because he believes in crushing organized labor. It's been hard for other candidates to top Walker on that -- the demonstrations, the threats, the recall election -- and some candidates keep forgetting that defining themselves as liberalism's victims is the prime directive. (Rand Paul keeps losing the plot and attacking Republicans, the dumb cluck.)

Marco Rubio has had some trouble competing in the greivance contest, but he got a huge boost today when The New York Timed ran this story:
According to a search of the Miami-Dade and Duval County court dockets, the Rubios have been cited for numerous infractions over the years for incidents that included speeding, driving through red lights and careless driving. A review of records dating back to 1997 shows that the couple had a combined 17 citations: Mr. Rubio with four and his wife with 13. On four separate occasions they agreed to attend remedial driving school after a violation.
This is trivial. This would not be a dealbreaker for any normal American voter, of any political affiliation, if it were revealed about the voter's preferred candidate. It's a ridiculous non-story.

And then the Washington Free Beacon presented evidence that the story was spoon-fed to the Times by opposition researchers from the Clinton-linked PAC American Bridge:
Records show that each of the citations mentioned by the New York Times were pulled in person by American Bridge operatives on May 26, 2015.

Take for example the time Rubio was pulled over in 1997. “Mr. Rubio’s troubles behind the wheel predate his days in politics,” wrote the New York Times. “In 1997, when he was cited for careless driving by a Florida Highway Patrol officer, he was fined and took voluntary driving classes.”

A look at the docket for that infraction on Miami-Dade County’s website shows that American Bridge was in Miami to pull records on that case at 11:42 a.m. on May 26....
The Times denied that American Bridge was its source, although the paper said that "others were looking at the same thing" at roughly the same time as its reporters.

So, At least for the moment, Marco Rubio is the most aggrieved candidate in the field. That's excellent for him.

Is his team milking this? Oh, yes:

(Yes, that's right: The Times, which ran one of the first stories sourced to Peter Schweizer's Clinton Cash and which employs Maureen Dowd, is "Hillary's press shop," according to the Rubio campaign.)

Given the nature of right-wingers, Rubio can milk this forever. The right won't forget this next week, or next month, or next year. Pretty much for the rest of his political life, Rubio will be able to dismiss any coverage he doesn't like from the "liberal media" by saying, "Maybe they'll look into my traffic tickets next." If he wins the nomination, wins the presidential election, and wins reelection, I think he'll still be able to milk that grievance eight or nine years from now, because right-wingers never let a grievance go.

If Rubio's lucky, some survey firm will be polling the GOP presidential race this weekend. If so, I think this will be worth five points to him in the polls -- at least until someone else in the field can find an even greater grievance to complain about. For now, though, this was a huge win for him.


And why was a pro-Clinton PAC even looking at this information? How dangerous was it likely to be?

Remember, the last Republican president and vice president won two terms despite being known to have had drunk driving arrests:
Gov. George W. Bush, who has for years referred vaguely to his "irresponsible youth," acknowledged yesterday that he pleaded guilty in 1976 to driving under the influence of alcohol when he was 30 years old and visiting Maine.

"I'm not proud of that," Bush said at a hurriedly called press conference in Chicago, where he was campaigning. He also questioned the timing of the revelation five days before the election.

Several hours after the story broke, a spokeswoman for Bush's running mate, Dick Cheney, 59, said Cheney also had two driving-while-intoxicated offenses when he was in his early 20s, in 1962 and 1963.
And Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur notes that auto infractions came up in the 2008 campaign:
In March 2007, the Associated Press published an article reporting that Democrat Barack Obama had dished out $375 two weeks before launching his campaign to pay for 15 outstanding parking tickets and late fees.
Drunk-driving arrests strike me as a legitimate issue. The violations Obama and the Rubios were guilty of, not so much.

And please note the date of that Obama story: March 2007. I don't believe Republican opposition researchers would have been trying to dig up dirt at that time on a guy who was seen as a weaker Democratic candidate than Hillary Clinton -- besides, they surely thought he was a long shot to win the nomination. My guess is that that came from Hillary Clinton's oppo team, too.

Come on, Team Clinton. It didn't work then. Why would you expect it to work now?


Die alte Aechzener said...

Uh maybe because they'd rather run against Rake-man Rubio than Walker in the general?

Anonymous said...

I find it VERY hard to believe that Clinton's team would find Rubio enough of a threat to try something as lame as this and especially so damned early in primary season.

I wouldn't be surprised if Rubio's guys simply invented every bit of this. It not only gives Rubio an advantage in the race to be the most aggrieved and besieged conservative, but it also suggests he's a candidate that should be taken much more seriously by other Republicans. After all, Clinton, who has a commanding lead over everyone, is apparently so scared of him that her team is trying to smear him.

Victor said...

Have you been to Florida?

I have.
Do you know what it takes to get a ticket there?

I've been there many times on business, and I can't tell you how many times I've been stuck behind someone ancient in the left hand lane - with the blinker still signaling left - going 35 in a 65mph zone, and then, when I finally pass them on the right when some other ancient person finally goes 40 and I can sneak in there, all I see is a pair of liver-spotted hands and the top of some man or woman's gray/white hair.
How do they see where they're going?
It's a mystery...

If you get a traffic ticket in Florida, you've earned it!

theHatist said...

I love listening to the big tough guys with their guns who claim to be able to take on tyranny get a little snot bubble on their lip as they sob about all the mean things someone 500 miles away said about them.

Scared of their own shadow, but they still love to strut around with their automatic weapons, don't they?

Professor Chaos said...

Why would anyone think his could work? Especially against a Republican? Once Republican voters have decided that someone is one of theirs, there is no sin for which they are not forgiven, short of raising taxes. Meanwhile, the person who reported the sin is the one condemned and vilified, making the original sinner just that much more of the hero/victim that a Republicans like to picture themselves as.