Shifting Stories: Is Marco Rubio a Centrist?
Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 10:51AM
Michael Charney in 2016, 2nd Amendment, Climate Change, Conservatism, GOP, MarketWatch, Moderate Politics, Narratives, Punditry, Rubio, Tea Party, The True GOP

I have a pretty regular morning routine. Once I’m settled in front of my computer, I open a browser and work my way through a few obligatory (some would say “anal retentive”) behaviors. First I check Facebook, mostly because there might be something clever or interesting that deserves reposting (thereby creating an aura of personal pseudo-creativeness, as if I should get some sort of credit just for noticing whatever it was that caught my eye), then I check my email (wondering why I don’t take the time to unsubscribe from the virtual reams of crap that clutter my inbox), after which I check the sports scores before heading over to MarketWatch for a quick glance at the world’s latest financial events. And this I do every morning. Weekends, too, all of which only further cements the all-too-common opinion that I’m more than just a “creature of habit.” Not quite Sheldon Cooper, but getting close.

I don’t usually read many of the articles over at MarketWatch; they lack the depth of, say, The New York Times or Bloomberg. MW’s facile offerings instead bridge an annoying gap between CNBC-style editorial and BuzzFeed quizzes. There’s always a lot of stuff on the best places to retire, or hidden secrets of your 401(k), or which expert is predicting the next financial boom or crisis or stasis. (This last one frequently sits adjacent to a photo of a befuddled Warren Buffett. I don’t know why.)

Despite my general disdain for MW’s journalistic qualities, once in a while an article will catch my eye. Like today, for instance, which offered this headline:

“Rubio leaps into top tier of Republican candidates.”

Now that’s interesting…. Marco Rubio…. He of the dry-mouthed SOTU response. One of the earliest declarers. Top tier. Already? How could I not stop and read the whole thing?

It turns out the article, an admitted opinion piece by Darrell Delamaide, is largely filled with the usual speculation one finds eight months before New Hampshire’s FITN primary. (That’s “first in the nation,” by the way, an uncomfortable non-acronym likely only moments away from absorbing its own hashtag….) Breaking down the current and likely GOP players, Delamaide separates them into top tier-ers and the rest-ers, with Rubio, Bush, and Walker out in front. Bush’s presence on the list seems pretty straightforward, while Walker’s elevation comes from strong rumors that he’s recently started sniffing significant amounts of Koch. But Rubio? Well, according to the article,

“In this top tier, Rubio looks like the centrist.”


A centrist?   How the f#&k did that happen?

Let’s take a look at a few of Senator Rubio’s positions, shall we? According to the Live Free or Die Alliance (I do live in New Hampshire, after all), Rubio is strongly pro-life, opposes federal intervention in health care, supports a prohibition on stem cell research funding, supports a flat tax, supports lowering corporate income taxes, opposes stimulus spending when times are rough, and opposes cap-and-trade programs. He also co-sponsored the Keystone XL Pipeline bill.

VoteSmart adds that he’s against a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, he does not support any restrictions on the purchase or possession of guns, and he believes marriage should only be between one man and one woman. The National Right to Life Committee gives him a 100% rating, as do the Liberty Guard and Americans for Prosperity. The NRA gives him a lifetime score of A+.

Now you may or may not agree with these positions. But one thing I think we can safely say is that they are not centrist.

Stories are funny things. When oft repeated they become, true or not, “conventional wisdom” or “common knowledge,” things easily accepted because, well, it seems like everyone else accepts them, too. We find ourselves herded along with others, buffaloed, forgetting that someone creates narrative (FOX News, anyone?) and does so with methods so craftily constructed that most of us don’t even notice.

Now emerges a new story. It uses words like “Rubio” and “centrist” in the same sentence. It shows up on a respectable website. We can expect it to grow, since it so suitably serves an agenda. Rubio. Centrist. Rubio. Centrist.

But Rubio is anything but a centrist. Chris Christie, maybe. Jeb Bush, maybe. The furthest left in the GOP might be considered a centrist in our political sphere, but whatever else he is, Marco Rubio isn’t that candidate

I’m not saying he’s a bad guy, or that he isn’t presidential material. (That topic waits for another essay, and one much closer to any actual elections.) But what I am saying is that there is already an obvious attempt to rebrand an extremely conservative man as a centrist.

That’s a story I just can’t swallow. And neither should you.

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