The New Republic asks “do Latinos like Marco Rubio?” Apparently the first-term Florida senator is on many insiders short list of politically attractive GOP vice presidential nominees. The thinking goes that the all-important Latino vote, once solidly pro Obama but now supposedly wavering because of the President’s perceived lack of movement on immigration reform, will vote Republican in 2012 because there’s now a Brown guy on the ticket who can actually pronounce the word Popocatepetl.
Not that Rubio would actually know about Popocatepetl and the Aztec warrior’s lasting presence on the free calendars of countless Mexican taco joints all across Aztlan. Homeboy Rubio, after all, is Cuban, more familiar with plaintains and Gloria Estefan than, say, carne guisade and Los Tigres del Norte. And there’s the rub. The real question the article asks is will Latinos, 95 per cent of us Other Than Cuban, vote for Rubio.
The consensus seems to be no. Not so much because we hate Cubans, but because this particular Cuban seems to hate Mexicans. Even Ruben Navarrette Jr. -- who’s never met a GOP talking point he couldn’t sneak into one of his columns -- questions Rubio’s barrio street cred with fellow raza. As Junior points out, Rubio supported the Arizona anti-immigrant law, co-sponsored a bill to promote E-Verifying of workers, and came out against the Dream Act. Marco Rubio, the proud son of immigrants.
No word yet on whether Rubio also wants draw mustaches on Virgen de Guadalupe murals, but if these are his positions on Latino issues adding homeboy to a Republican presidential ticket is not going to make the difference come 2012.
Besides, according to some, Rubio may not even be a “natural born citizen.” Seems Rubio’s parents were not naturalized citizens when little Marco was born in Miami. According to the constitutional interpretation of certain crazies birthers, this means Rubio is not a “natural born citizen,” and thus ineligible for the office. First Obama and now Rubio. Or as Joey Ramone says, second verse, same as the first. Only now in Spanish.
And while most right-wing pundits are not comfortable with the potentially adverse political implications of knee-capping one of their few rising Brown political stars, they are trying to put as good a spin as possible on the chorus of dissenting voices. From the Daily Caller: “The good news here, of course, is that the rise of Rubio birthers proves that birthers are not merely partisan hypocrites who solely attack Democrats like Obama. They are, instead, either consistent racists — or consistently misguided adherents to the Constitution.”
I vote that they are both.
And while I admit those questioning Rubio’s eligibility are, for now, truly a crackpot fringe, the real test is to see what happens if the questioning continues and grows: Will the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh Republican echo chamber pick up and carry the Rubio citizenship argument with the same 24/7 fervor they did when questioning Obama’s supposed Kenyan birth?
I’m guessing they won’t. They need to win Florida. About the only place left in the browning of America that a Cuban politician who wants to send kids back to Mexico can still be guaranteed to win the Latino vote.