Call me cynical, but I have always been a little dubious of Marco Rubio as a card-carrying tea party conservative. Something there just doesn’t gel with the down and dirty grassroots types the tea parties helped sweep into office last November.
I first began to get this queasiness when Rubio came out a against Arizona’s SB 1070 in April 2010, and then suddenly reversed his position nine days later, when he started catching flack from the conservative bloggers.
Then I began to watch his candidacy from afar, as it were, for telltale signs that Mr. Rubio was perhaps just another canned Republican with a handsome face and a gift for gab. Then came another small speed bump.
Sarah Palin sent him a “call me” to offer her support in his fight against Charlie Crist, and again Rubio surprised me. Here is his response. Catch that body language? Weird! Not only did Rubio not call Palin but he deflected the question every time the media broached it. They appeared at an event in Orlando with Michael Steele last October, but they were not on stage together, and Rubio ducked out without so much as a photo op with the conservative firebrand.
Okay, Palin isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, pardon the pun, but it was suspicious because her support certainly couldn’t have hurt him. Why burn that bridge?
I kept watching.
Now it appears that Rubio wants nothing to do with the new Senate Tea Party Caucus launched by Jim DeMint, Mike Lee and Rand Paul this week. Whassup with that?
”Why do we need something in addition to the steering committee? … My concern is that politicians all of a sudden start co-opting the mantle of ‘Tea Party,’” Rubio told the Florida political blog Shark Tank. “If all of a sudden being in the Tea Party is not something that is happening in Main Street, but rather something that’s happening in Washington, D.C., the ‘Tea Party’ all of a sudden becomes some sort of movement run by politicians … it’s gonna lose its effectiveness and I’m concerned about that. I think that the real power of the Tea Party comes from its ability to drive the debate and the issues from the grassroots up, as opposed to from the politicians down.”
Really Marco? Are you concerned that the tea parties will be co-opted by politicians, or are you hedging your bets with the Washington leadership? Maybe lobbying for those plum committee assignments. I’m beginning to wonder who co-opted whom. I keep going back to that SB 1070 flip-flop and how it became necessary overnight to get on the right side of things, when the conservative blogosphere lit up against you.
Hey, I could be wrong about all of this. Maybe this is all my imagination but I can’t help but wonder. So I have a suggestion for Marco Rubio, just in case.
Why don’t you just join the Senate Tea Party Caucus and let us worry about the whole co-opting thing? After all, we were smart enough to elect you guys; we can probably identify a political opportunist when we see one.