Friday, January 19, 2018
Opinion

Rubio's ridiculous red-meat, red-state rhetoric

When your cable company keeps you on hold, you get angry. When you get angry, you start getting irrational. When you get irrationally angrier, you start foaming at the mouth like Newt Gingrich. When you start foaming at the mouth like Newt Gingrich, you turn into Sen. Marco Rubio uttering illiterate phooey in South Carolina in a craven attempt to goose your vice presidential aspirations.

If anyone needs a cold shower and an American history tutorial, it would certainly be Rubio, who traveled to South Carolina a few days ago to get his freshman beanie in a wad over the presidential campaign.

Roy Scheider didn't throw out as much red meat chum in Jaws as Rubio did before a gathering of Republicans. The junior senator's remarks may have fired up the Republican base, even though he was more historically inaccurate than South Carolinians who claim the Civil War was a kerfuffle over tariffs. Slavery? What slavery? Who said anything about slavery?

Rubio was in high dudgeon over President Barack Obama. That went over well with this crowd, which already regards the president of the United States as a Trotskyite agent of Satan who was born in deepest Africa to Angela Davis and Nikita Khrushchev.

We've got trouble right here in River City, Rubio moaned. Trouble, trouble, trouble. For as long as Obama resides in the White House, the senator decried, "We have not seen such a divisive figure in modern American history as we have over the last 3 1/2 years."

It's a bit disheartening to see a senator know so little about the history of the country he was elected to serve.

Of course, Rubio is largely a product of the Florida public education system, where teaching history is at best an afterthought. And who was going to notice that the senator was demonstrating all the civics literacy of Rick Perry meets Sarah Palin?

Barack Obama, the most divisive figure in modern American history? Really? While there is no argument all presidents court controversy, Obama hardly qualifies as the most discordant individual in the nation's history. That would be Lindsay Lohan agreeing to appear on Glee. Just kidding, sort of.

Memo to Rubio: There are these things called books. They used to be all the rage. If the senator had ever bothered to thumb through a few history tomes, he might have discovered that Obama is a summer of love compared to some other figures who have traipsed through the nation's life.

Richard Nixon was an immensely divisive figure whose moral failings during the Watergate scandal and eventual resignation from office took the country on an emotional group therapy session.

Lyndon Johnson. Surely Rubio might have heard the name. It was Johnson who mired the nation in Vietnam, leading to nearly 60,000 U.S. casualties.

After his election by the U.S. Supreme Court, during the Cheney administration, George W. Bush managed to plunge the country into a needless war in Iraq, lose 8 million jobs, implode the real estate markets and turn the Constitution into a bubble gum wrapper. Divisive? Nah.

Many other Americans have proven to be pretty darn divisive: the red-baiting Joe McCarthy; George Wallace; South Carolina's own racist-in-residence, Strom Thurmond, the playboy of the West Wing, Bill Clinton; and of course the hucksters of the radio dial, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.

The vice presidential pick is supposed to be something of an attack dog. But is Mitt Romney seriously thinking about a running mate who can only chase his tail and still thinks he's in the hunt?

Rubio was only getting warmed up, hinting that those who have attended Harvard and Yale are out of touch with the real world. That was a not-too-subtle swipe at Obama, who went to Harvard's law school.

Uh, Sen. Rubio? Mitt Romney, the chap you are fawning over like a Lady Gaga groupie? He went to Harvard. Probably not the brightest move to impugn the nominee's school.

Rubio has inherited Gingrich's rhetorical mantle of grand, absolutist, twaddle-filled statements. When it comes to notoriously divisive figures in American history, he opted to study at the foot of a grandmaster.

Comments

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18