The Rubio Hit


Grassroots conservative icon Senator Marco Rubio of Florida came under attack in a Washington Post hit piece on Wednesday.  Entitled “Marco Rubio’s Compelling Family Story Embellishes Facts, Documents Show,” it dropped the bombshell that Rubio’s family didn’t flee Cuba to get away from Castro.  Why, Mr. and Mrs. Rubio had already been in the United States for two and a half years when Castro came to power!

The Post breathlessly informs us why this is so important:

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.” And the 40-year-old senator with the boyish smile and prom-king good looks has drawn on the power of that claim to entrance audiences captivated by the rhetorical skills of one of the more dynamic stump speakers in modern American politics.

However, according to the Post, “The real story of his parents’ migration appears to be a more conventional immigrant narrative, a couple who came to the United States seeking a better life.”  Yawn.  Nothing exciting there.  Marco Rubio got into office by peddling a lie!  Behind his boyish smile and prom-king good looks lies an icy void of deception and mendacity.  So much for that bright future in national politics, which could have included a shot at the Oval Office.  Instead, Rubio should probably be drummed out of the Senate right now, or at least forced to return his prom-king crown.

The Miami Herald decided to dig into the Post’s blockbuster Rubiogate expose, and noted the second sentence in his official Senate biography does indeed say “In 1971, Marco was born in Miami to Cuban-born parents who came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover.”  In reality, they came to the United States in 1956, returned to Cuba for a few visits, and decided to remain in America permanently after Castro overthrew the Cuban government. 

Rubio’s bio is about 500 words long, and written in the third person.  I strongly doubt any senator writes his own bio, even those who routinely talk about themselves in the third person.  I’d wager most of them have never read the “about me” page on their websites.  The offending sentence is an imprecise summary of his family history, but to even call this an “embellishment” is a stretch.  If a single word was changed, and it read “In 1971, Marco was born in Miami to Cuban-born parents who remained in America following Fidel Castro’s takeover,” it would be perfectly accurate, and the overall thrust of the Rubio biography would remain unchanged.

 The Miami Herald has much bigger fish to fry, because as it points out, the central assertion of the Washington Post story is false.  Rubio does not use a dramatic tale of his parents fleeing Castro’s thugs, on the eve of revolution, as a standard trope in his speeches.

In fact, the sole incident the Post was able to cite was a general description of the Cuban-American experience given by Rubio, which the Post presented as a tall tale about his parents:

To back up the lead, the Washington Post excerpts from a 2006 address in the Florida House where Rubio said “in January of 1959 a thug named Fidel Castro took power in Cuba and countless Cubans were forced to flee… Today your children and grandchildren are the secretary of commerce of the United States and multiple members of Congress…and soon, even speaker of the Florida House.”

The catch: If you listen to the speech, Rubio isn’t just talking about those who specifically fled Cuba after Castro took power. He doesn’t say that his parents fled Cuba. Instead, he was talking about “a community of exiles.” That is: He was talking about all the Cubans who live in Miami.

Now, as the Herald goes on to explain, Rubio has said his parents came to America after the revolution in interviews, and has given the impression he didn’t know exactly which year it was.  This is not inconsistent with an energetic 40-year-old man recalling a story he heard in his childhood.

As Rubio explained in a statement:

To suggest my family’s story is embellished for political gain is outrageous. The dates I have given regarding my family’s history have always been based on my parents’ recollections of events that occurred over 55 years ago and which were relayed to me by them more than two decades after they happened. I was not made aware of the exact dates until very recently.

What’s important is that the essential facts of my family’s story are completely accurate.  My parents are from Cuba. After arriving in the United States, they had always hoped to one day return to Cuba if things improved and traveled there several times.  In 1961, my mother and older siblings did in fact return to Cuba while my father stayed behind wrapping up the family’s matters in the U.S.  After just a few weeks living there, she fully realized the true nature of the direction Castro was taking Cuba and returned to the United States one month later, never to return.

They were exiled from the home country they tried to return to because they did not want to live under communism. That is an undisputed fact and to suggest otherwise is outrageous.

Saying “my parents left Cuba because of Castro” when the precise sequence of events is really “my parents left Cuba, went back a couple of times, didn’t like what they were seeing, and permanently emigrated to America because of Castro” is not an “embellishment” or a falsehood.  More important than the exact year they journeyed to America for the first time is the fact that if they’d waited much longer, they would have “emigrated” on a raft made out of old tires, assuming they lived long enough to cobble it together.

There is a story here, but it has nothing to do with the exact year when Maria and Oriales Rubio experienced the Sunshine State for the first time.  The story is asking why media organs that swallowed Barack Obama’s biographical whoppers without question are obsessing over such a tiny detail in a story whose meaning to Marco Rubio’s life remains unchanged.  It’s not as if he’s claiming to have spent 35 years attending a racist church without hearing a word the pastor said.

The conclusion to be drawn from this story is that the liberal establishment is scared to death of the gentleman from Florida, and this ridiculous bit of hair-splitting and fabrication is the best they could do to hurt him.