You know it’s bad when conservative commentators like Allahpundit find themselves asking that question:
Even now, even after everything, I strongly prefer his flip-flopping to the grotesque omnibus opportunism of Charlie Crist. But it’s worth asking: How different would the Senate have looked since 2010 with Crist in there instead of Rubio? What would have changed in terms of actual policy? If anything, without Rubio to woo conservatives, the Senate immigration effort would have been in deeper trouble than it is now. The fact that we have to pause and even consider this sort of “what if Crist won?” hypothetical makes me think maybe we should hold off on the Rubio tributes. For now.
The question arises because of the very flip-flopping that Allah mentions. Rubio’s transformation from an anti-amnesty, fix the gosh-darned border hawk into an immigration squish has been nothing less that stunning. It’s like the person you thought was your sweet grandmother ripping off her rubber mask and revealing herself as your lifelong arch-nemesis. And then laughing maniacally as you’re lead away to the dungeons.
To give you an idea of how much he’s changed, here’s an excerpt from a 2009 article wherein Rubio criticizes Reagan for the 1986 amnesty (h/t Patterico):
Rubio delivered a six-minute discourse on immigration policy in which he brought up The Gipper’s support for the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which granted amnesty to most undocumented workers who could prove they had been in the country continuously for the previous five years.
“In 1986 Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to 3 million people,” Rubio said. “You know what happened, in addition to becoming 11 million a decade later? There were people trying to enter the country legally, who had done the paperwork, who were here legally, who were going through the process, who claimed, all of a sudden, ‘No, no no no , I’m illegal.’ Because it was easier to do the amnesty program than it was to do the legal process.”
“If you grant amnesty, the message that you’re sending is that if you come in this country and stay here long enough, we will let you stay. And no one will ever come through the legal process if you do that.”
Rubio said the U.S. must first get control of its borders and its visa system, which often allows people to enter legally but remain after their visas expire.
And to drive the point home, watch as he makes the argument even more strongly:
(h/t Legal Insurrection, where you’ll find a transcript)
I think you can understand why, now, his role in the Gang of 8 has left me feeling I should be scraping a pie off my face. The man who went on program after program on radio and TV trying to sell a lemon of an immigration bill to conservatives is not the same guy in that quote and in that video. They look alike, they sound alike, but the new guy is clearly the evil twin from another universe. He just needs the van Dyke.
Or, rather than being an evil dimension-hopping doppelganger, candidate Rubio was lying massively back then, always really favored some sort of amnesty, and is now cynically fronting the Gang of Eight in order to present himself as a “leader” for 2016.
I think we can guess which is really true.
There’s no hiding it: my disappointment in Marco Rubio is deep, painful, and abiding. From the moment I saw the video of his farewell speech as Florida House Speaker, I thought this guy has “it.” The right political principles combined with ample charisma and a marvelous talent for communication. A sure future president, one I was certain would be great.
Sure, Lucy. I’ll kick that football.
Conn Carroll, a border hawk, writes that, in spite of it all, he still loves Rubio because he acted as a gentleman throughout, treated his opponents with respect, and never intended to deceive. I find that last part especially hard to square with the quote and video above, for Rubio is not a dummy. He has to know the border security provisions in this bill are garbage. Given that, how is the repetition of slickly delivered, deceptive talking points on Hannity and Limbaugh and O’Reilly treating your opponents with respect?
No, my love affair with Marco Rubio is over. If he wants to get back in my good graces, he’ll have to do a penance that makes Henry IV’s walk to Canossa look like a stroll in the park.
And his chances for the 2016 nomination, too, should be over, if he runs. This wasn’t some minor flip-flop that can be passed over; border security, immigration, and the rule of law are core issues. If he wins the nomination, I’ll vote for him, as he’d still be better than Hillary or whatever progressive the Democrats put up, but, in the primaries, I’m looking elsewhere.
To answer Allahpundit’s question, right now I’d have to say “Yeah, ‘Spray-Tan Charlie’ might well have been better.”
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)