You can feel it in the Republican Establishment, the sense that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s solid third-place finish in Iowa is the moment the locusts cleared, the boils healed, the frogs jumped away, and the waters parted.
Delivered into Sinai, Republicans of finer character got to watch as boorish Trumpites and the Cruzians were swallowed up at last by the Red Sea.
But in order to make it to the Promised Land, the Establishment still needs Rubio to win — or at least place a strong second — in New Hampshire. And for that, some spin of biblical proportions will be necessary.
Part of that is the message that Rubio is not simply the Establishment’s choice, but the man who can bring all Republicans into the Big Tent and galvanize a united GOP to march over Hillary or Bernie into the White House.
“The amazing surge for Marco Rubio shows that the Republican electorate has not gone collectively insane,” waxed a condescending David Brooks in the New York Times. “He is the only candidate who can plausibly unify the party.”
Billionaire Republican donor Frank VanderSloot told CNN on Wednesday that he’d be going “all out” for Rubio, who he said could “unite” the party and be an effective president, even though the nation had already experimented with a first-term senator in the West Wing.
“I believe that Obama has demonstrated that a young senator can get a lot of stuff done,” said VanderSloot, who was a national finance co-chairman for Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.
Except, Rubio isn’t going to unite anything, other than the Establishment. He is, rather, exactly the problem the conservative base, which comprises a majority of the GOP, is adamantly rejecting this election cycle. He is a Republican in the mold of George W. Bush, whose second term utterly divided the GOP.
Not only does Rubio, like Bush, support amnesty for illegal aliens, he wrote the bill that would grant it. He would even allow into the United States some Syrian refugees — the young and the old, who no doubt would immediately send for those in between.
He is an interventionist who said last spring, “America plays a part on the world stage for which there is no understudy.” He would have fueled the Syrian war by arming rebels, and he backs enforcing a no-fly zone over the country. He backed trade promotion authority legislation that paves the way for President Obama’s globalist, U.S. sovereignty-sapping Trans Pacific Partnership deal and has spoken favorably about the deal numerous times.
Rubio’s third-place finish in Iowa, where Republicans are fairly conservative, hardly proves that he is attractive to the right. Exit polls show 40 percent of Iowa Republicans consider themselves “very conservative.” Among those, only 15 percent caucused for Rubio, compared to 65 percent who supported Texas Sen. Ted Cruz or businessman Donald Trump.
“The Republican Party usually nominates unifying candidates like Marco Rubio,” Brooks wrote, without apparent irony, forgetting in his euphoria that Republicans have also lost four of the past six elections handily and won only two squeakers.
The Establishment has one thing correct. Logic-slaying emotion is driving this election. And the ones who have gone “insane” are the denizens of the Establishment, who somehow think it is an acolyte of their minority viewpoint who is best suited to unite Republicans, instead of Cruz and Trump, who represents more mainstream — that is, conservative — Republican views.
The Republican elite think, or at least say, that Rubio somehow has a foot in the conservative camp. But the base shares no such delusions. Of the roughly half of Iowa voters who said they want a candidate from “outside the Establishment,” seven percent supported Rubio.
The piece also appears on LifeZette.