The flap over Senator Marco Rubio has shown us that the Senator has thin skin and ferocious defenders.
More interesting, it shows that exile is a state of mind. The common conception of “exile” involves people being pushed out of their country and barred from return. Many Cubans suffered precisely that. But there are many others, even those born here, who consider themselves exiles because they cannot go or will not go, or will not deal with the conditions the Cuban government imposes. That includes Senator Rubio and his family, which emigrated comfortably in 1956.
I’m sure that Senator Rubio is right that no votes would have changed in his 2010 election had voters known the date of his family’s departure from Cuba. The salient issue, I believe, has to do with the facile assumption that the GOP would win large numbers of Latino votes if it puts Rubio on the ticket next year, for the simple reason that Rubio is Latino.
It is rarely mentioned, but it is true, that Cuban Americans are not viewed with pure affection by other Latinos in the United States. This is for the understandable reason that while U.S. politicians compete to be the biggest supporter of the biggest, baddest fence along the entire southern border, Uncle Sam has given Cuban Americans a special deal – an open door, no-questions-asked immigration policy. The response – “no offense to immigrants,” as Senator Rubio says – is that Cuban Americans are exiles. In his personal case, vis-à-vis Latino voters, that has become a tougher sell.
- Senator Rubio comments on his family history and other matters in a Wall Street Journal interview.
- The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page editor, Paul Gigot, can’t find fault with the original Washington Post story. He notes: “Politicians who stress their biography will inevitably have it picked apart. Mr. Rubio and his staff need to make sure that all the facts of that biography are buttoned up.”
- The Herald’s advice to Marco Rubio is similar: Welcome to the big leagues.
- Senator Rubio could learn a thing or two from this woman who tells her family story and has all her dates straight.
- The Washington Post’s ombudsman explains how the Marco Rubio family story came about in the first place.