Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Testing, testing: Rubio's rhetoric for 2016

By Mustang Bobby

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is already making it clear that he's planning on running for president in 2016. He's already on the stump as one of the more attractive and less vitriolic of the party, and he's got a really good business model already in place: after all, how unlikely is it that America will elect a first-term senator with a name ending in a vowel as president?

Jonathan Chait at New York magazine looks at the new model and finds that under the hood, though, it's the same vehicle as the one they ran last year:

On the budget, Rubio delivered the Republican weekly radio address, and his message was more of the old-timey religion: We must get the national debt under control. Tax increases will not solve our $16 trillion debt. Only economic growth and a reform of entitlement programs will help control the debt.

This is the classic Republican metaphysical dodge, which not only argues for keeping taxes as low as possible but refuses to acknowledge that revenue bears any relationship at all to deficits. Deficits equal spending! Two legs bad, Reagan good!

On immigration, meanwhile, Rubio is carefully positioning himself to oppose any potential deal. He is not coming out and immediately throwing his body in front of the legislative train. Rather, he pleads that we must not try to do everything at once and should instead try to reform immigration "step by step." Of course, "step by step" is exactly the catchphrase Republicans used to oppose health-care reform. It's a way of associating yourself with the broadly popular goal of reform while giving yourself cover to oppose any particular bill that has a chance to pass. You're not against reform, you're against this reform. It's too much, too fast.

The Republicans and Mr. Rubio seem convinced that it's not what they say, it's the way that they say it that is ruining their message and why they lost the election. And as long as they keep thinking that, they'll keep losing. 

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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