Saturday, October 22, 2011

Marco Rubio denies embellishing family history but continues advancing politically convenient lies

In a much-quoted and widely-circulated piece, The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the party's wunderkinder (and a possible vice presidential choice next year), embellished the facts about his parents' departure from Cuba and status as exiles in the U.S.:

During his rise to political prominence, Sen. Marco Rubio frequently repeated a compelling version of his family's history that had special resonance in South Florida. He was the "son of exiles," he told audiences, Cuban Americans forced off their beloved island after "a thug," Fidel Castro, took power.

But a review of documents — including naturalization papers and other official records — reveals that the Florida Republican's account embellishes the facts. The documents show that Rubio's parents came to the United States and were admitted for permanent residence more than two-and-a-half years before Castro's forces overthrew the Cuban government and took power on New Year's Day 1959.

The supposed flight of Rubio's parents has been at the core of the young senator's political identity, both before and after his stunning tea-party-propelled victory in last year's Senate election. Rubio — now considered a prospective 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate and a possible future presidential contender — mentions his parents in the second sentence of the official biography on his Senate Web site. It says that Mario and Oriales Rubio "came to America following Fidel Castro's takeover."

Writing for Politico yesterday, Rubio defended himself, calling the Post report "an outrageous allegation." But the facts are clear. His parents came to the U.S. before the revolution, not after it, as he has alleged, including in his own official bio.

And he continues to advance this lie.

Even if it's okay, however misleading, to call his parents "exiles" -- or, as Steve Benen puts it, "after-the-fact exiles" -- it makes a big difference whether they left Cuba before or after Castro took power. If, contrary to his claim, it's before, his own narrative, a narrative that allows him to score political points, particularly in Florida, falls apart.

But the thing is, does it really matter? Did Rubio have to embellish his parents' story? No, because the truth is almost as compelling. They left Cuba for the U.S., watched as their country was taken over by totalitarians (as opposed to U.S.-backed goons), and as their countrymen suffered, end ended up being effectively exiled. Does it really add all that much to their credibility, and to Rubio's personal story, that they escaped from Castro? Well, maybe a bit, sure, but I hardly think Rubio needed to lie.

But lie he did. Over and over and over again.
Below is a clip Benen posts at his place showing Rubio lying.
He can defend himself all he wants. And I doubt this is enough to hurt him (or destroy his veep chances -- embellishment is fairly common (see Biden, Joe), and Republicans will see this as a partisan media attack, even if the Post is hardly a bastion of liberalism these days). But he can't run from the truth.

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  • I may be wrong, but I believe they traveled back to Castro's Cuba more than once and didn't apply for US citizenship for 15 years.

    I'd like to see his "long form" birth certificate personally. You have to wonder why he never shows it in a state that's been trying to make it mandatory for "ethnic" looking people to carry proof of citizenship.

    But you're right. Facts never influence elections in Florida. He's a Republican and that's all that matters.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 4:03 PM  

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