Friday, April 27, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Rubio stiff-arms public

With all the courage of a thousand lemmings, Florida's junior Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Duck & Cover, brought his tin cup tour to Tampa Bay last Friday to hustle for political contributions.

The good news is at last he figured out where Tampa Bay is. The less than charitable news is Rubio continued to stiff the public, once more refusing to hold a town hall meeting, or agree to speak with those who might want to ask him questions about health care, or Russia, or the current travails swirling about President Donald Trump.

Irony abounds.

Rubio spoke to about 300 attendees at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner hosted by the Republican Party of Pinellas County at the Carillon Hilton Hotel. A principled Abraham Lincoln stood up in the face of a grave national crisis to preserve the union. He led the country with undaunted courage. And he attacked the scourge of slavery.

And Marco Rubio? The hand-wringing senator couldn't find a spare moment in his self-promoting big bucks hustling schedule to meet face-to-face with some 250 people carrying placards.

Indeed Rubio, R-Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid, boldly strode to the podium to deliver a scathing rebuke of the news media over its coverage of Trump, for its insistence on covering all the crazy, bumptious, bizarre, weird stuff the president of the United States says and does.

This from the man who makes himself less accessible to the press than North Korean President Kim Jong Un's food taster.

It is true that shortly after the Lincoln Day Dinner, Rubio did manage to carve out a few precious moments to appear on Face the Nation to essentially say absolutely nothing about much of anything except that if the Trump White House has notes detailing the president calling fired FBI director James Comey a "nut job" perhaps it might be a good idea to turn them over to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Do you think?

Time for Face the Nation. Not a minute to talk with Floridians. Not a nanosecond of common courtesy for the people he is supposed to represent.

Rubio was introduced to the buffet of checkbooks by Rep. Gus Bilirakis, who belittled the demonstrators near the Hilton as "the liberals outside."

Bilirakis has had his own run-ins with angry voters showing up at town hall meetings who would like to know why he voted to gut the Affordable Care Act, which would result in stripping health coverage from millions of Americans, increasing premiums and reducing benefits.

These weren't "liberals" outside the Lincoln Day Dinner. They were Americans who wanted to have a conversation with their elected senator to simply explain himself.

And even if these people were indeed card-carrying lefties, what difference does it make? Are they not entitled to commune with their U.S. senator? Is political ideology a litmus test for constituent service? Does Rubio only speak to those who grovel in humiliation in his presence?

A sitting U.S. senator has not scheduled a town hall meeting with Floridians since Trump was elected last November. He skulks in and out of Republican banquets and fundraising events populated by fellow travelers. He dodges his critics and runs away from potentially confrontational gatherings because he fears someone might raise their voice and call him a dope, although to be fair on this point, truth is a defense.

Last year as a presidential candidate, Rubio ran as a tough-as-nails fighter who would stand up for this and stand up for that. Now he cowers at the prospect of standing toe-to-toe with a testy retired grandmother carrying a sign demanding he speak to her about health care, or Russia, or Donald Trump's tweets.

During his remarks, Rubio offered up some boilerplate blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada about Americans staying focused on its values as a bulwark against China and Russia. "You do not want a world where a brutal thug like Vladimir Putin has the most powerful military in the world," Rubio cautioned.

Perhaps so. But if the senator can't stare down a Birkenstock-wearing middle-aged pony-tailed hippie touting a protest sign, what makes anyone think Rubio would turn Putin into his poodle?

It's pretty evident that for a chap who has commander-in-chief aspirations, Rubio has all the presidential timber of Chinese drywall.

Comments

Editorial: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18