What is this with conservatives and Rubio?

Even as conservatives are turning off on the grand project of spreading democracy to Muslims, they are expressing their overwhelming support for the vice presidential nomination of Sen. Marco Rubio, who just happens to be the Republican Party’s most passionate, over-the-top advocate of democracy-spreading. Sometimes I wonder if Rubio is even aware that America is an actual country, apart from the global project, which he endlessly touts, of “American Exceptionalism.”

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James N. writes:

Never mind his neoconismo, what are his qualifications for high national office? That he can talk to the pool boy without an interpreter?

LA replies:

They say he’s a great orator. Conservatives get excited by his speeches. They rave about him all the time.

Aaron S. writes:

Regarding your observation that mainstream conservatives are going nuts over Rubio, I was noticing this quite some time ago. I cautioned a few such people about their inordinate ardour for the Hispanic vote, saying that the whole thing would end badly. Sure enough, there was this about a month ago, which I don’t recall your noticing at the time. There are a number of pro-forma anti-illegal remarks, but one doesn’t have to look far to see where he is angling:

Rubio set himself apart from the 2012 field on a couple of policy points. Romney and Gingrich have suggested they might support a pathway to citizenship for children who have been brought to the U.S. illegally only if they enrolled in the military, but not for those who attend college. Rubio did not make that distinction when he talked about the Dream Act.

“I think there is broad bipartisan support for the notion that we should somehow figure out a way to accommodate them,” he said. “I hope that we as Republicans and we as conservatives take the lead in solving this problem. It’s not just the right thing to do, but it speaks to our hopes and dreams as a nation.”

The old “hopes and dreams” act. How can a mainstream Republican resist? I pointed this out to these conservative friends. Whether they have internalized any lesson remains to be seen. I’m not banking on it.

LA writes:

Here is video of Rubio speaking at the 2012 CPAC conference.

LA writes:

I’ve watched the speech from the 10 minute mark to the end. He is a good speaker, and he gets better and better as it goes along.

As for what he says about American Exceptionalism (which has been my main concern about him based on past statements of his which sounded like a recipe for America running the world), it is good, and based on something real and concrete about America, not an abstraction. He says America is the country where the government doesn’t decide which businesses will be created, where there is individual opportunity, where people can make their own way in life. And he relates this to his parents’ experience in losing their liberty, losing their country, and coming to America where they strove to give their children opportunities they didn’t have. And now he says he fears that America is going to become like the country his parents were forced to flee.

(Also, I think the speech may be from 2011, not 2012.)

Buck writes:

That was Rubio’s 2010 CPAC speech. Here’s a transcript for those who can’t bear to listen to the grating applause.

LA replies:

Thanks. The website that posted it said it was his February 2012 CPAC speech, and I figured that was a mistake. Still it was interesting watching a major part of one of his speeches. I had seen shorter segments of his speeches before, and had always had a negative reaction to what seemed to be his hysterical neoconism. Not that I’m now suddenly converted to pro-Rubio now, but I have a more favorable impression and a better idea of why he’s so popular.

Sage McLaughlin writes:

Mainstream conservatives swoon over Rubio, in my opinion, for three basic reasons:

1. He is a genuinely engaging and likable speaker, and, let’s face it, the Republican Party has a serious charisma problem.

2. He is Hispanic, and the idea of winning an identity politics sweepstakes against the Democrats never fails to tickle the mainstream right. Combined with #1, it’s a stone cold certainty the establishment (both the national party and mainstream conservative punditry) will love him.

3. He is a bona fide anti-Communist speaking for a movement that was forged for no purpose other than winning the Cold War, one which has lost its bearings since that conflict ended. This is why he is always referred to as “Reaganite,” with the implication that he’s practically a young Reagan, which is almost incomprehensible otherwise. Rubio is not just economically conservative, he’s a genuine anti-Castroite, and one who cannot be dismissed as a paranoiac, as the left loves to do with conservatives. When he speaks of government not picking winners and losers in the marketplace, he’s speaking against the left’s theory of political economy, and deep down, the fight against Communism is one many conservatives now wish they could have fought forever, because it put them unambiguously on the side of the American people and its government.

But now, liberalism reigns supreme in America, and our victory over International Communism cannot undo the near-total defeat suffered at home to an increasingly lawless and totalitarian left. Rubio gives mainstream conservatives the impression that the per se conservative movement is still young, vital, fresh-faced, and full of relevant ideas. But they are deceived.

I don’t mean to say that Rubio is deliberately deceiving anybody, or that he does not have many good qualities beyond mere charm. Perhaps he would be a good Vice President, whatever that means. Maybe he would even help defeat Obama. My impression, though, is that conservatives are such enthusiasts for Rubio because he makes them feel their ideological oats again, the way they did in the days after 9/11 when they all bustled about excitedly explaining that America was now embarking on another “global ideological struggle against evil” that would probably last for decades. Combined with his personal likability, it’s a rare opportunity for conservatives to fall in love with a political candidate, which hasn’t happened since … Reagan, circa 1979.

LA replies:

Terrific analysis.

LA writes

Stupid me. I didn’t notice that in the video I linked, Rubio is identified at the bottom of the screen as “U.S. Senate candidate.” So of course this was not even CPAC 2011. This was CPAC 2010.

… though I have an excuse for not noticing it. At the top of the page, above the video, it says, “CPAC Speech of the Day - Senator Marco Rubio.”

And another thing. Just above the video, it says, “Sit back and enjoy.”

Now isn’t that an odd thing to say about a political speech? The invitation addresses people, not as citizens and participants in politics, but as passive consumers of entertainment. Rubio is expected to entertain us, in a manner indistinguishable from a singer or other performer.

Except that this is not odd, but the prevailing attitude today. For example, some years ago, the phone answering system in the New York City government was changed so as to refer to callers as “customers.” You’re contacting your municipal government about some matter, and that government addresses you, not as a resident and citizen, but as a “customer”—a person seeking a good or service and expecting to be satisfied.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 28, 2012 02:07 PM | Send

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