The original news-blogger, journalist Mickey Kaus, flew out from Los Angeles to New Hampshire to watch Sen. Marco Rubio’s hide-the-amnesty script, and he’s so worried that he wrote up a new post, “The Rubio Menace.”
I went to see Marco Rubio’s town hall this afternoon in Salem, New Hampshire. It was only a few miles from my hotel–I really had no excuse. I wanted to find out: Was Rubio really as slick and insubstantial in this setting as John Edwards? Answer: No. He’s slicker. He’s slicker, in part, because he at least seems a bit spontaneous,** with a slightly goofy, human quality. I admit this is hard to judge seeing him once — maybe he always lets his 8-year-old son sit on his stool during his stump speech. But it’s hard to deny the appeal.
When it comes to substance, Rubio draws on an inventory of well-prepared rhetorical modules, with just enough policy to sound sophisticated, that can be inserted where necessary to handle, say, the how-would-you-handle-ISIS question (Sunni ground army!) or disability benefits (get rid of phony claims!). There’s not much sacrifice involved in any of Rubio’s proposals — even avoiding budget apocalypse, which he claims to be very concerned about, is just a matter of raising the retirement age and slowing benefit hikes for the well-off. Nothing that hasn’t been floating around Washington for years. There’s a heavy emphasis on electability. Big, difficult questions (like robots taking everyone’s jobs) are ignored. Tellingly, however, Rubio has added a Trump Module, where he alludes to anger at stagnant wages.
He’s got an immigration module too. It ignores Rubio’s “Gang of 8” amnesty push while adopting what seems to be an Enforcement First framework, in which “nothing” happens, amnesty-wise, until the border is “secure.” Everything depends on what “nothing” and “secure” mean, of course. But those crucial seams are effectively buried. Rubio prefaces all this with a digression on ISIS, and how it’s changed the immigration debate: Because our top priority has to be to “keep ISIS out of this country.” It’s an absurd, transparent attempt to put off confronting the Gang of 8 and the effects of a low-skilled influx on living standards. But the audience loves it. The ISIS digression gets the biggest applause of the day…
Kaus is a Democrat and a classical, old-style liberal, who shrugs off sneers from his former progressive allies. He’s not worked-up about taxes or regulations, but is frightened by the ability of progressives and Wall Street to destroy the wages, independence, pride, and status of ordinary Americans by flooding the labor market with wage-cutting, welfare-supported, profit-boosting foreign labor. Throughout 2013 and 2014, Kaus helped lead the fight against Rubio’s amnesty-and-cheap-labor “comprehensive immigration reform” bill, and he’s still frightened that progressives and business donors, plus their lobbyists on K Street in Washington D.C., will derail the populist, pro-American movement led by Sen. Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump. The new-and-improved Rubio, he says, is:
…mildly terrifying. If Rubio’s a ‘robot,’ as many have charged, he’s a sophisticated new model robot with simulated humanistic elements and a charm algorithm … In short, for the Sessions movement–and a particular vision of America, in which even unskilled, non-bright citizens can work a full day and earn a respectable living–Marco Rubio is a state-of-the art K-Street kill shot, a sudden existential threat. We may have only a few days to recognize this.
Read the whole article here.