Monday, October 24, 2011

Senator Rubio's Credibility Gap

Thomas Riggins

Senator Marko Rubio, a Tea Party Republican who wants to get rid of Medicare and cut back Social Security, according to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, is fighting back after he was exposed juicing up his official biography in order to appeal to the ultra-right.

Rubio, recently elected to the Senate from Florida, has been touted in some quarters as a potential vice-presidential candidate on the Republican ticket in 2012-- a male version of Sarah Palin, the New York Times calls him "charismatic."

The Senator, however, has been exposed as claiming to be the son of Cuban exiles who had to flee the evil regime of Fidel Castro to find freedom in segregationist Florida, when in fact his parents came over to the Sunshine State in 1956-- if they were escaping anyone it was Batista and his capitalist dictatorship.

But in Rubio's version, dished out to unsophisticated Florida voters and until recently a part of his official Senate biography, he said his "Cuban-born parents came to America following Fidel Castro's takeover." Well, that has been removed from his official bio when it was pointed out that Cuba was liberated from the Batista dictatorship in 1959 not 1956.

Rubio who once said about his parents that "They were immigrants, and they were also exiles. That is the essence of my story." The "essence" of his story turns out to be one big fat whopper-- not easily digested. Called out on his "exiles" story Rubio said it was "outrageous" to think he might have, as the Times put it "embellished his family story for political advantage." Duh! [See, "Senator Lashes Out at Critics Who Say He Embellished His Family's Story,'' by Lizette Alvarez and Jennifer Steinhauer, NYT 10-22-2011.]

It seems he just got confused about the dates. He said that "In hindsight, I wish I had found out about the dates. But it was not relevant to the important narrative about what my experience was." Not important! The son of people fleeing communist "tyranny" or just the son of run of the mill immigrants looking for more moolah than they could make under the Batista dictatorship is "not relevant."

But it is relevant. Here is what George Gonzalez, a Cuban-American teaching at the University Miami says: "Every Cuban-American knows when their parents arrived and the circumstances under which they arrived. That's part of the Cuban exile experience, the political and psychological trauma of it [most of them chose to come here so it's not really so much exile as becoming expats--tr]. So the idea that he was murky on those ideas does not cut ice." There are those who defend him of course but I think Gonzalez has hit the nail on its head. The people of Florida are stuck with this phony for six years, then they should dump him.

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