Imagine Val Demings vs. Marco Rubio in 2022 | Daniel Ruth
The Orlando Democrat performed well as a House impeachment manager. If Rubio seeks re-election to the Senate, she would be a credible challenger.
Times Columnist Dan Ruth. [Times file]
Times Columnist Dan Ruth. [Times file]
Published Feb. 7, 2020

Not that this came as any great surprise, but while President Donald Trump was basking in the afterglow of his predictable acquittal in his impeachment trial, someone else had to be squirming.

Sen. Marco Rubio might have seen a glimpse of his future. Think of this as a potential Rut-ro moment for the Lemming of the Senate.

This not a prediction. More of an inkling really. But if the Florida Democratic Party is capable of a rational thought (no small accomplishment), they would consider a full court press to persuade U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Orlando to challenge Rubio in 2022. Too subtle?

In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla.,, speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla.,, speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (Senate Television via AP) [ AP ]

Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s defense lawyers, noted that hovering over the impeachment trial was a glaring warning: “Danger! Danger! Danger!” He could have been referring to Rubio’s future prospects.

Since arriving in the Senate, Rubio has cobbled together a record of productivity that makes Maynard G. Krebs look like a nose to the grindstone workaholic.

To be fair, the Barney Fife of the Beltway has come out forcefully for removing Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro from power. Such courage! Such risk-taking! Are you sure you want to climb out on that limb?

During the Senate impeachment trial, Republicans showed less curiosity about Trump’s guilt, duplicity and abuse of power than Al Capone had in the tax code.

Don’t you suspect if this crowd had been sitting in judgment of Jack Ruby in the murder of John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, they would have dismissed the charges on the grounds most of the eye-witnesses were “fake news” reporters?

But Demings cared about the facts proving Trump’s shakedown of Ukraine. And why not? After a 27-year career in law enforcement, which included being the first female police chief of Orlando before going to Washington, Demings was a stickler for stuff like breaking the law.

Her performance as one of the House impeachment managers revealed to a national audience a poised, articulate and passionate advocate for the law, for doing the right thing, for upholding quaint concepts like taking an oath honoring the U.S. Constitution.

As a daughter from a humble family, Demings’ up-from-the-bootstraps life story is an American story.

Considering Demings spent much of her professional life arresting bad guys and running a police department, you have to suspect she would be more than capable of handling the slippery Rubio in a debate.

Still, a question lingers about a potential Demings bid for a U.S. Senate seat.

Why would she even want the job? Under the thumb of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the upper chamber does – nothing, except go on extended vacations, junkets and recesses. Prince Charles has a more hectic work schedule. At least the impeachment trial gave senators something to do all day long, even if all it meant was sitting quietly at their desks. Work, work, work.

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Incumbency does not mean leadership. Hanging around is not the same thing as public service. Taking up space is not akin to experience. Being afraid of your own shadow is hardly inspirational.

Rubio is good at giving speeches. He’s swell at opposing perfectly dreadful people, unless they live in the White House. He’s great at striding purposefully across the corridors of faux power on his way to a very important meeting where nothing will be accomplished.

And to be sure, he is very adept at raising money.

If you watched Demings’ emotional argument for the removal of Trump from office, you saw a formidable political figure on the rise.

“I’ve taken four oaths in my lifetime, two as a law enforcement officer and two now as a member of Congress,” Demings has said. “Each oath stated that I will protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

You might also amend that oath to: “… against all enemies, foreign and domestic and cravenly opportunistic.”

How – quaint.