Marco Rubio is not your savior

TIME Magazine’s new issue has a cover story on Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), declaring him “The Republican Savior.”

Rubio, who I gather did not have control over TIME’s choice of headline, was not amused.  “There is only one savior, and it is not me,” he said via Twitter, adding in the “#Jesus” hashtag, just in case Jamie Foxx thought he meant Barack Obama.

Leaving aside the religious dimension of the term “savior,” it’s pretty clear what TIME is driving at: Rubio is the up-and-coming young leader who can lead the Republican Party out of the wilderness.  Wait, maybe that’s an inappropriate choice of metaphor, too.

Anyway, he’s got several things going for him, most obviously the sense that he can build a bridge to the Hispanic population.  That’s probably a forlorn hope, as Hispanics show every sign of an enduring affection for Big Government spending and dependency.  It’s too bad, but it’s foolish to pretend it’s not true.  Is Rubio a leader of such charisma that he can talk them into embracing fiscal sanity, economic and personal liberty, and rugged self-reliance?

It would be more practical to wonder if he can persuade enough of them to make a difference.  It’s not foolish to suppose he might poach another 10 or 15 percent of the Hispanic vote from the Democrat machine.  And a skilled, heartfelt attempt to reach out to these voters will impress many other voters from different groups.  A great deal about the 2016 election might hinge on the big news stories of the day, as is always the case with elections.  Terrifying headlines of impending federal and state insolvency, or another four years of the economy Barack Obama has delivered thus far, could open some minds.  Having the right person on the campaign stage at that moment will be crucial.

And Rubio sure looks like he might be the right person.  Watching him travel across the conservative media landscape to sell his immigration proposal was instructive.  He didn’t win everyone over, but he always departed his interviews with a sense that he knew what he was talking about, understood the counter-arguments, and respected his critics.  When he gets fired up about America, he’s incandescent.  He sure as heck had the Obama re-election strategy pegged, all the way back at the February 2012 CPAC conference.

He’s personable and connects easily with people, and he has an inspiring life story.  That will be the aspect of his prospective candidacy the Left tries hardest to assault, and he should be ready for it.  They’ll labor to make him seem weird and extreme, asking him leading questions about life, philosophy, and religion to produce radioactive sound bites.  Of course he’ll get the sort of background check that our still-enigmatic two-term President Obama never got; that’s par for the course, and Rubio had better get warmed up by hiring the scurviest scalawags he can find to ransack his past for dirt.  Remember how everything about Obama’s past was either small potatoes or ancient history?  You’ll be amazed at how fresh every minute of Marco Rubio’s young life becomes to the very same media, and how large all of his potatoes are.

Most insidiously, the Left will do what TIME is doing right now: as long as Rubio is looking good, they’ll paint him as the only decent candidate to crawl from a train-wreck loser party.  You really can’t run against your own party.  I don’t have to name any examples, do I?  Rubio is highly adept at praising Republican principles as a source of strength and conviction.  Those principles are solid gold for people of every race and creed.  Bring them together into a single narrative, and you’ve got something that translates into every language.  Sell them piecemeal, in disconnected pitches interrupted by plenty of manufactured distractions, and it’s not even exciting enough to bring Republican voters to the polls.

That’s another good reason to object to Marco Rubio’s characterization as a “savior.”  It’s a slam against all the people who will come together behind the 2015 presidential nominee.  Neither the Republican Party, nor the great country it serves, are victims in need of rescue.  We’ll go back to being a “center-right” nation if enough of us remember that.