Ruth: Rubio the flip-flopper

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., announced last week he will run for re-election, reversing his retirement plans.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., announced last week he will run for re-election, reversing his retirement plans.
Published Jun. 24, 2016

With apologies to the late Amy Winehouse, they tried to make Marco Rubio go to re-election, but he said, "No, no, no." Until he said, "Yes, yes, yes."

It is certainly true that some very sage and astute political observers have noted that Florida's plebe Republican senator's decision days ago to run for re-election amounted to the mother of all flip-flops, rivaling John Kerry trying to pick out a tie.

Remember, during his historically inept presidential campaign Rubio very publicly insisted on at least 12 occasions he would absolutely, positively, unequivocally not put himself forward for another term in the U.S. Senate. Under no circumstances would he even give it a second thought. Fini. Done. Case closed. Period. Indeed, he was treasuring the thought of returning to private life away from the media glare to spend more time with his family. Cue the laugh track.

Besides, Rubio had very affirmatively insisted there was no way he would remotely consider a second term since Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, his dearest, closest, most beloved friend in the world, was already in the race to succeed him. This snickering is getting way out of hand. Stop it.

And that brings us to a highly technical political science nuance. With all due respect to the wizened, thoughtful, discerning punditocracy and the multitude of diligent fact-checking organizations who have detailed Rubio's many, many protestations he would not be a candidate for re-election, is it truly fair to accuse the Blue Boy of the Beltway of flip-flopping if no one believed him in the first place?

Really now, Rubio is a walking GEICO commercial. He's a cravenly ambitious politician who has spent less time in the private sector than Queen Elizabeth. He runs for office. That's what he does.

You can't deny that Rubio enters the 2016 re-election campaign with a gale-force political wind at his back. After all, the Rubio juggernaut managed to lose the Florida primary to Donald Trump, capturing only 27 percent of the vote and winning just one of the state's 67 counties, his home base in Miami-Dade. Now there's an Alf Landonesque mandate for you.

And yet Rubio offers himself up for another six-year term based on a legislative record of accomplishment that compares quite favorably with the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea.

There was Rubio's landmark legislative victory in fighting for — and winning — a Senate resolution congratulating the Miami Heat for capturing the National Basketball Association championship. Oh the amber waves if it all.

How could one not be moved by Rubio's crusading leadership in crafting a massive immigration reform measure? It was a stunning achievement, right up to the point when he ran away from his own bill when the political heavy lifting became too tough. What would we call this? The charge of the light charade?

Ah, memories. Certainly the hallmark of Rubio's time in the Senate was that day when he actually showed up for work. It might have been a Tuesday. Or perhaps a Wednesday.

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Still it's reasonable to ask why a politician like Rubio, who spent so much time as a senator grousing about what a lousy, stinking job it was, wants to return to something he found so unsatisfying — that is, whenever he bothered to come into the office.

Last year, the Washington Post cited an anonymous friend of Rubio who said the senator hated the upper chamber. And Rubio did precious little to disavow the quote, noting, "I don't know that 'hate' is the right word. I'm frustrated."

The explanation for Rubio's reversal might actually be rather simple. For all the institution's nagging shortcomings, it is still better to be a United States senator than not be one. And the position pays $174,000 a year with at least six years' worth of job security and all the bowing and scraping of minions in your presence as you can stand.

What were Rubio's options anyway? Private law practice? Please, no one has ever confused this chap with Louis Brandeis. And no one was ever elected president because they were so widely respected as a lobbyist-for-hire.

Marco Rubio has heard the siren call of Hail to the Chief. And the only avenue left to him to someday have a job where they play music every time you walk into a room is by trying to stick around in a place, by his own admission, he can't stand. How can anyone not be inspired by Rubio's courageous willingness to serve once more on behalf of himself?