Friday, July 24, 2015

A Rubio Rebuke

Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican presidential candidate from Florida, may be frustrated that his campaign is lacking traction, but there is no excuse for him to say that the president has "no class."  His comment is a feeble attempt to get attention because he is lagging behind the frontrunners, especially Donald Trump, in the polls.

Rubio made the comment on Fox News this week in the context of an answer about Donald Trump's campaign.  "It’s important we have– to conduct the presidency, it has to be done in a dignified way, with a level of class,” he said. “I don’t think the way he’s behaved over the last few weeks is either dignified or worthy of office he seeks.”  

But then Rubio continued with an attack on President Barack Obama.  “We already have a president now that has no class,” Rubio sputtered.  “I mean, we have a president now that does selfie-stick videos, that invites YouTube stars there, people who eat cereal out of a bathtub… he goes on comedy shows to talk about something as serious as Iran. The list goes on and on.”

Rubio sounded more like a high school freshman with an inferiority complex, or, at least, a candidate who is deeply discouraged with his poor performance among Republican presidential candidates in recent polls.  The fact that he would say such an outrageous thing about President Obama shows that he is only interested in scoring political points.

When it comes to scoring political points among Republicans, nothing is an easier target than the nuclear deal with Iran that Congress is in the process of reviewing.  At a hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday, Rubio took an aggressive tone with the lead U.S. negotiator, Secretary of State John Kerry.  Rubio said that a new president would be in his or her rights to rip up the whole agreement.  

“It’s important for the world and especially Iran to understand that this is a deal whose survival is not guaranteed beyond the term of the current president,” Rubio said--clearly threatening what he may do should he become president.  "Even if this deal narrowly avoids congressional defeat, the Iranian regime and world should know this deal is your deal with Iran, meaning yours — this administration — and the next president is under no legal or moral obligation to live up to it,” Rubio continued. “The deal can go away the day president Obama leaves office.”

The Iran nuclear deal, agreed to on July 14 by the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France, plus Germany (P5 Plus 1), calls for Iran to roll back its existing nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions.  The UN Security Council approved the agreement last week, which puts in place a rigorous verification process.  If Iran violates the agreement, an automatic "snap back" provision kicks in that would reinstate sanctions on Iran.

While Americans are skeptical about Iran, a majority of those asked in a recent Washington Post/ABC poll support the agreement.   But in calling for Congress to vote against the agreement Rubio says that a majority of Americans are against it.  Oops.  Congress may vote the agreement down, but the President has said he will veto such a congressional action.  In the end, it is likely the president will eke out enough votes to uphold the agreement.

Rubio's position that "The deal can go away the day President Obama leaves office" is silly, presuming Iran lives up to its side of the bargain.  Why would a President Rubio cancel an agreement that is working and risk alienating the U.S. from its allies?  It would be far better for him to take the position that, if elected president, he would do a better job of enforcing the agreement than his Democratic opponent.  Of course, saying he'd rip it up makes a better soundbite that appeals to the conservative base of the party.

Rubio has stumbled before.  In March of this year he told Fox News that it was not a mistake to invade Iraq in 2003, noting, "the world is a better place because Saddam Hussein doesn't run Iraq."  But when asked in a May interview at the Council on Foreign Relations if he would have favored the Iraqi invasion if he knew there were no weapons of mass destruction, Rubio replied, "not only would I have not been in favor of it, President Bush would not have been in favor of it."  Two different audiences, two different answers.  And Rubio has also changed his position on immigration under pressure from conservatives. 

Perhaps realizing that his ridiculous slander that President Obama has "no class" was a bit too much, Rubio backtracked a bit in an interview Thursday with Fox News' Bret Baier.  After Rubio noted that the president is a great father and husband but was divisive, Baier asked, "So you stand by that statement that the president has no class?"

Rubio responded, "I think, on the major issues of our time, he has not conducted himself of the dignity of worthy of that was office. Demonization of political opponents and divisions in America which have made it harder for us to solve our problems, and have poisoned the political environment as a result."  Does Rubio think most Americans are fools?  

Republican leaders met on the day of President Obama's first inauguration and plotted how they were going to make him a one-term president.  Republican Congressman Joe Wilson, of South Carolina, yelled "you lie" to the president in a speech before a joint session of Congress nine months after he took office.  For years Republicans questioned whether the president was born in the United States.  Republicans attacked the president's health care law with distortions and lies, like saying it called for death panels.  In 2009, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich denounced what he called Obama's "Kenyan anti-colonial behavior."  Tea Party inspired Republican members of Congress shut the federal government down in 2013 because they wanted deeper budget cuts and the repeal of Obamacare.  Arizona's Republican Governor Jan Brewer waved her finger at President Obama on an airport tarmac in early 2012.

Throughout his tenure President Obama has been subject to disrespectful, and sometimes racist, attacks from the right.  A recent example is Rubio's swipe against the president that he has "no class."  But all this attack does is reveal that Rubio is a sanctimonious hypocrite who will say anything to get ahead.  

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Donald Speaks!

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump has sucked the oxygen out of the Republican Party by dominating media coverage since he announced his presidential candidacy last month.   As a result of his brash and often outrageous statements he has soared in the polls to the top of a crowded field of candidates.  Meanwhile, Trump's theatrics have exposed the weaknesses in the Republican Party.

Trump strongly appeals to a core group of Republican voters who are anti-immigrant and anti-Washington.   His comments last month about Mexicans resonated with this group.  “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”   

Never mind that this statement is not true, it is what some Republicans strongly believe.  In fact, the Republican Party has long struggled with the immigration issue.  Following their loss in the 2012 Presidential Election, the party released an autopsy report with its analysis of what went wrong.  It noted that candidate Mitt Romney received only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote and recommended increasing the party's appeal to Latinos.  GOP party chairman Reince Priebus said at the time, "The question is: instead of getting 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, can I get 35?"  

Yet, knowing the increasing numbers of Hispanics in the American electorate, most of the announced Republican candidates failed to aggressively challenge Trump's ridiculous comments about Mexicans.  Now the party is on the defensive about immigration reform.  The 2013 Republican autopsy report concluded that the party "must embrace and champion immigration reform."  It warned,  “If we do not, our party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.”

When it comes to other important issues facing America Trump speaks as a man who is never in doubt, although he is frequently wrong.  For instance, he has claimed he has a plan to defeat the terrorist group ISIS, which now controls oil fields in Iraq.  "I would bomb the hell out of those oil fields," he told CNN earlier this month, "I wouldn't send many troops because you wouldn't need them by the time I got finished."  Many military experts agree destroying the oil fields would do little to slow ISIS, but it would damage Iraq's future source of revenue.  But this kind of muscular, shoot from the hip approach to foreign policy appeals to a segment of the Republican base.

Trump claims he will put unemployed Americans back to work, explaining,
"They can’t get jobs, because there are no jobs, because China has our jobs and Mexico has our jobs."  He claims that he will be a tough negotiator with China, and he blames the fact that Trump branded shirts and ties are manufactured in China on the Chinese!  “Quite frankly, I was never satisfied with manufacturing my product in China, but because of what they’ve done in terms of devaluing their currency, it is very hard for other companies to compete and make such apparel in the United States."  If he was never satisfied with making apparel in China, why did he do it?  

Trump has joined the chorus of Republicans who attack Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton.  In an interview this week with NBC News, he said, “Hillary Clinton was the worst secretary of state in the history of the United States.”  He continued, “There’s never been a secretary of state so bad as Hillary. The world blew up around us, we lost everything, including all relationships. There wasn’t one good thing that came out of that administration or her being secretary of state.”  He concluded, "I think she would be a terrible president." 

While most Republicans agree with Trump, they may be surprised to hear that he praised her in a 2012 interview with Fox News.  "Hillary Clinton I think is a terrific woman...I think she really works hard and I think she does a good job."  In fact, Hillary and Bill Clinton had a front row seat at Trump's 2005 wedding to supermodel Melania Knauss.  

Trump is attracting support among many Republicans because he has a well-known name and he is saying things many party members feel.  He will no doubt be formidable in the upcoming debates.  But his ad hominem attacks, his insults, his bombast and attacking tirades are only hurting a Republican Party that is deeply divided and struggling to find its way to the White House.