Thursday, December 14, 2017
Opinion

Ruth: Don't ask Rubio to do the heavy lifting

First, a confession. It is probably true that I've watched Jimmy Stewart's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington too many times.

A naive young man finds himself appointed to the United States Senate and heads off to the nation's capital believing he will be able to do good things, improve people's lives and make a difference. Did I mention Frank Capra's movie is a delusional, surreal fantasy?

Now we have "Mr. Rubio Goes to Washington," the melodramatic tale of an ambitious Sammy Glick of the Potomac, a smooth operator who sees his Senate seat not as a noble call to public service but as an entry to the best front and center table at Fox News.

Sen. Marco Rubio isn't a weather vane, tacking to the latest polling whim. He's the perpetually spinning propeller atop the freshman beanie. Where does he stand on anything? What time is it?

Since being elected to the Senate in 2010, Rubio has passed more fundraising buffet tables than legislation. For a nanosecond, he had a chance to lead, only to finally say: "My immigration bill? What immigration bill? Who said anything about an immigration bill?"

Rubio this week abandoned a sweeping immigration bill that he helped pass with bipartisan support in the Senate that provides an eventual path to citizenship for those in the country illegally but after a lengthy period of time and payment of a fine.

Now Rubio says it would be too hard to get the measure through the House. Instead Rubio calls for itty-bitty, baby-step immigration reforms.

Passing legislation is supposed to be hard. It's supposed to require wheeling and dealing, horse-trading, compromise and negotiation. That's what real senators do.

Given Rubio's aversion to heavy lifting, you could argue he's not a U.S. senator at all. He's a U.S. City Council member — with a book deal.

To serve in the United States Senate, even with the bickering, partisan dysfunction and glacial pace, is an opportunity to try to accomplish big things and affect the course of the nation's history.

Not for Rubio. It's too hard.

The water carrier from the Heritage Foundation has been too busy caressing his ambitions and avoiding any semblance of believing in anything that hasn't been poll-tested.

First, Rubio opposed immigration reform. Then he supported a piecemeal approach. Then he was in favor of comprehensive legislation. Now he's signed up again for piecemeal immigration reform. He opposed the Affordable Care Act but disappeared when Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas attempted to blow up the economy with C-4-laden green eggs and ham. Then he materialized again as an ardent foe of Obama just as the healthcare.gov website proved to have fewer working parts than the Senate itself.

Now Rubio is against the Employment Nondiscrimination Act because . . . well, it prohibits employment discrimination? Really? Too hard?

One day, Rubio, R-Boo!, will shuffle off this mortal coil. And what will be said of a man who once served in the United States Senate? Perhaps something along these lines.

Marco Rubio once represented Florida in the United States Senate. He was a man who thought small and found no issue that couldn't be reduced to the sum of its parts. He believed in a la carte governance.

The senator was dedicated to furthering the one worthy cause he cared about — himself. He stood for nothing unless it was before the Iowa caucus. When called upon to lead, he ran away faster than the hapless knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. When the going got tough, he was on the next plane to New Hampshire.

He gave good speeches and collected big checks. He staunchly opposed Fidel Castro. Yet he feared offending radio talk show hosts and the his tea party supporters.

Rubio squandered his rare gift to do great things, to enhance the lives of people, to be remembered as a hard-working, bipartisan legislator because — it was too hard. He was a politician who took the easy way out.

Comments
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17