Now we know two new things about Senator Marco Rubio.
His family emigrated from Cuba when Batista was in power (1956) rather than fleeing it after the communist takeover (1959), as reported by the Washington Post last week.
And he has a very thin skin.
The Post’s article sent him and his operation into a Clintonesque, attack-the-attacker, rapid response blitz that befits a campaigner in full stride rather than a Senator settling into the first year of his first six-year term.
Something like this simply would not do: “It was my error. My parents did immigrate in 1956. They did not suffer being driven into exile, but for them any thoughts of returning to Cuba ended when Castro took over.”
Instead we got this: “If The Washington Post wants to criticize me for getting a few dates wrong, I accept that. But to call into question the central and defining event of my parents’ young lives – the fact that a brutal communist dictator took control of their homeland and they were never able to return – is something I will not tolerate.”
Ok, fine, he shouldn’t tolerate that. He might also consider that his sense of outrage is a little inflated. After all, the Liberal Media didn’t write the official bio on his Senate website that said his parents “came to America following Fidel Castro's takeover.” At some point, one wonders if he thought his parents’ story was a little prosaic compared to those who actually fled communism with the clothes on their back.
Rubio has bought himself some trouble on the right; see this commentary at FrumForum. More cutting is this commentary from Cuban-American journalist Rick Sanchez, formerly of CNN. He argues that Rubio’s views on policies toward immigrants, which already distance him from many Latinos, lost a central personal justification if his family is considered regular immigrants rather than refugees who fled persecution:
It’s an inspiring American story – a son of political refugees becoming a U.S. Senator. But that’s all it is – a story. It’s not reality.
Unlike mine, Rubio’s family left by choice, not necessity. Unlike mine, Rubio’s family left before Castro even took over.
Rubio says he just “got a few dates wrong.” That’s how he excuses his falsehood about when his parents fled Cuba. With that story, he convinced Americans that he was the son of political refugees, implying that it somehow made him different from the other Hispanics who he attacks regularly – the ones in Arizona, Georgia and Alabama that he and others want to detain, arrest and kick out. How dare they come here looking for work and to better their lot in life? Marco Rubio made us believe he is different from them when he’s not.
The Washington Post on Rubio’s responses.
Mitt Romney said: “I think the world of Marco Rubio, support him entirely and think that the effort to try to smear him was unfortunate and bogus.”
A Fox interview where Rubio says he would reject the VP nomination in 2012 – a statement that, if it were a lie, would be perfectly acceptable.