Joy-Ann Reid: Marco Rubio’s Rubik’s Cube on immigration

If Marco Rubio were a toy, he’d be a Rubik’s Cube. The junior senator from Florida has been twisted and turned into such a multitude of combinations and near alignments, it can be as frustrating to get a handle on him as it is to finish the maddening 1980s nerd square.

He’s been the guy who as Florida House speaker got stick from conservatives for allegedly “slow-walking” anti-immigration bills, and the guy who quieted tea party suspicions of him when he challenged apostate then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist for the U.S. Senate from the right. Rubio has been against first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and for Arizona’s “papers, please” law after changing his mind.

He’s been the Republican savior — the Latino Ronald Reagan, best friend of tea partying Sen. Jim DeMint and “frenemy” of his mentor Jeb Bush.

Mostly, Rubio has been seen, by politicos and the media, as the GOP’s one-man answer to the party’s biggest demographic problem: the seven in 10 Latinos who voted for Barack Obama instead of Mitt Romney. The reason: Rubio is Hispanic. And supposedly, he can pass immigration reform.

In September 2009, the conservative National Review magazine featured Rubio on its cover under the Obamaesque caption: “Yes he can: Florida conservative Marco Rubio’s play for the Republican future.”

Then in January 2010, the New York Times magazine put him on its cover, with the declarative question: “The First Senator from the Tea Party?” Shrewdly, Rubio declined to join the actual caucus.

In February, he was on the cover of TIME magazine and with typical old media subtlety, was crowned “The Republican Savior.” That got such a chilly reception from Right Wing World, Rubio quickly disavowed it, hitting Twitter with Maximum Conservativespeak by reminding the faithful that “there is only one savior: #Jesus.”

Now, however, with the immigration bill that is his signal offering as a national political figure, having cleared its first filibuster hurdle in the Senate, Rubio might need to ask: What Would #Jesus Do?

Conservatives hate the bill. The GOP base hates the idea of immigration reform, which they call “amnesty.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — an Even Better Hispanic Conservative, because he seems scientifically designed to repel fellow Latinos by talking — is nipping at Rubio’s 2016 heels, as is Rand Paul. Both joined 13 other Republicans in Tuesday’s futile filibuster of the Senate “Gang of Eight” immigration bill.

Suddenly, Rubio is finding out that Republican support for immigration reform goes about as deep as GOP political consultants. The base, it turns out, doesn’t much care what TIME magazine or The New York Times desire.

Meanwhile, the National Review has turned on Marco. Their latest cover is entitled “Rubio’s folly,” and depicts Florida’s senator standing between two enemies of the conservative state: Sens. John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and New York Democrat Chuck Schumer.

In this intractably confusing game, Rubio has found himself scrambling to alternately embrace and disavow the immigration bill; racing from microphone to microphone, groveling on right-wing talk radio, demanding more border-security amendments in a fruitless effort to appease old Dixies like Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, and occasionally simply declaring the bill dead on arrival.

If the bill ultimately succeeds, Rubio is sure to get the credit from Official Washington. His base? Not so much. If he engineers the reform’s demise, he’d lose what’s left of his media luster, and he’d still have to get in line behind Cruz and Paul, who have been consistent crusaders against the bill.

Rubio seems to have consoled himself by raising money —$2.3 million in the first quarter of 2013, and every fresh setback or advance seems to bring him a new avalanche of cash.

In the end, Rubio may benefit from his ambidextrous approach to immigration reform. But since, at the moment, he’s not known for anything else (except that unfortunate sip from a tiny bottle of water on national television), Rubio has no choice but to keep playing the game.

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

Tony Lesesne


    Tony Lesesne: Overkill, and an apology

    Yes, it happens in South Florida, too — and it shouldn’t. Black men pulled over, needlessly hassled by police officers who give the rest of their colleagues a bad name, who make no distinction when a suspect has no other description than ‘black male,’ who harass residents because they can. A North Miami Beach officer pulls over a black man in a suit and tie — and behind the wheel of an Audi that simply had to be stolen, right? In another Miami-Dade city, an officer demands that an African-American man installing a vegetable garden justify why he has a shovel and seedlings. Detained for possession of cilantro? Here are five South Floridians who tell of their experiences in this community and beyond, years ago, and all too recently.

Delrish Moss


    Delrish Moss: Out after dark

    “I was walking up Seventh Avenue, just shy of 14th street. I was about 17 and going home from my job. I worked at Biscayne Federal Bank after school. The bank had a kitchen, and I washed the dishes. A police officer gets out of his car. He didn’t say anything. He came up and pushed me against a wall, frisked me, then asked what I was doing walking over here after dark. Then he got into his car and left. I never got a chance to respond. I remember standing there feeling like my dignity had been taken with no explanation. I would have felt better about that incident had I gotten some sort of dialogue. I had not had any encounters with police.


    Bill Diggs: Hurt officer’s feelings

    “I’m the first generation in my family to go to college, and if I wanted to do nothing else, I wanted to make my mom happy. I was living for my parents, I wanted to be that guy, I wanted to go to work and not have to put on steel-toe boots. And here I am in Atlanta, I have finally grown to a particular level of affluence. I wasn’t making a lot of money, but I was a college kid, wearing a suit, driving a nice BMW going to work everyday. Can’t beat that. I would leave my house, drive up Highway 78, the Stone Mountain area, grab some coffee, go to work. So on this particular morning, there’s a cop who’s rustling up this homeless guy outside the gas station where I was filling up. I’m shaking my head, the cop looks at me. This homeless guy is there every morning. I get in my car and on to the expressway. The police officer comes shooting up behind me. I doing 65, 70. He gets up behind me, I notice he’s following me. I get in one lane, he gets in the lane, I get in another lane, he gets in that lane. He finally flips his lights on, he comes up to the car. I’ve been pulled over for speeding before, I know the drill. Got my hands up here, don’t want to get shot, and I think he’s going to say what I’ve heard before: ‘License and registration, please.’ He says ‘Get out of the car!’ and he reaches in and grabs me by my shirt. He says, ‘So you’re a smart ass, huh?’ Finally he says, ‘License and registration.’ I tell him it’s in the car. He says, ‘Get it for me!’ He goes back to his car, comes back and asks, ‘So where did you get the car from?’ I say ‘It’s a friend of mine’s.” He says, ‘Is it stolen? What are you doing driving your friend’s car?’ I finally asked, ‘Is there a reason you stopped me? You followed me, what’s up, man?’ He says, ‘I’m going to let you go with a warning, but if you see me doing what I’ve got to do for my job, don’t you ever f---ing worry about it.”

Miami Herald

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