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Marco Rubio, life of the party

Hard to argue with Glenn Beck's assessment of the Republican Party when he proclaimed at the Conservative Political Action Conference, "I don't even know what they stand for anymore. And they've got to realize that they have a problem: 'Hello, my name is the Republican Party, and I've got a problem. I'm addicted to spending and big government.'" Finally an acknowledgment that the GOP had a role to play in the nation's current financial bind.

And then he went off the rails, not that I'm surprised.

"But as of yet I haven't heard anyone say that," Beck added. "All they're talking about is: 'We need a big tent. We need a big tent. Can we get a bigger tent? How can we get a big tent?'....What is this, a circus?" That's dangerous language. Beck might have meant to criticize those who want more ideological diversity in the GOP. But it sounds like he is condemning any push to diversify the party, including in racial terms. Sending off those signals is exactly what the party doesn't need to do.

Indeed, after losing the support they had with Hispanics under President George W. Bush, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and others within the party are trying to win them back. And who could blame them? The Hispanic population is expected to increase nearly 200 percent by 2050. But the fiery rhetoric of the immigration debate is a problem for Republicans. As Steele told The Post, "That's the word that got back to folks on the street: 'They don't want us.'" Former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie pointed out in the story why the GOP must do a better job reaching out. "If the current voting percentages among white, black, Asian and Hispanic stay the same," Gillespie said, "the Republican nominee will lose by 14 points in 2020. We have to be more competitive."

Marco Rubio, a favorite of the Tea Party movement who is giving Florida Gov. Charlie Crist a run for his money for the Republican nomination for Senate, is showing how competitive the GOP can be if it is careful to welcome diversity. As Kathleen Parker wrote yesterday, "Rubio's parents came to America to escape Castro's cruel tyranny. You don't have to weep Glenn Beck tears -- or descend into bellicosity with words such as 'fascism' or 'socialism' -- when your life is a metaphor for the anti-Obama movement." She went on to say that "Rubio represents something important for a party for which diversity has meant hiring a mariachi band for the convention." If the Republican Party that Beck supports wants to be a national party again, its advocates have to send signals that encourage the other Rubios out there that they are welcome, instead of indulging in overheated hand-wringing about the "circus" more diversity would bring.

By Jonathan Capehart  | February 22, 2010; 11:20 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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There seems to be a wing of the GOP that not only will not tolerate dissent from party orthodoxy (an increasingly rigid orthodoxy), but also is openly uncomfortable with racial or ethnic diversity.

It's a shame, because although in the short term the party can capitalize on voter unease with Democratic policies and win some seats in November, the long-term demographic outlook for the GOP is grim.

And a bunch of angry, redfaced white people screaming 'socialism' and defacing Obama posters somehow just doesn't hold much appeal for most of the country - go figure.

Posted by: EnemyOfTheState | February 22, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

If the Glen Becks of the world have their way, there won't be any more immigrant families like Rubio's moving to the USA. What exactly does Rubio think about immigration, anyway? We can't canonize someone who came from Cuba but demonize everyone who came from somewhere else.

Posted by: fmjk | February 22, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

There was nothing "dangerous" about Beck's reference to the circus. Maybe it reflects poor judgment, because he should have forseen that someone could turn it into something it wasn't (a racial comment) by inferring what they want to infer. I think when viewed in context, he's mocking the very idea of building a tent, because it means looking past core values and trying to make everyone happy, which is exactly what got the GOP in trouble during the W. era. I think the most natural -- and frankly only honest -- reading of the statement is that he's deriding anything other than focusing on core values as something not serious (i.e., the circus, which is something that "tents" tends to fit with).

There are plenty of reasons to take digs at Glenn Beck. That isn't one of them. And "dangerous" is a particularly poor description because it implies that one can't make any analogies whatsoever if someone can link the analogy, however unnaturally, to some more nefarious purpose. On a more practical level, the GOP will have to expand its base to survive but the key is doing so while not selling out core values about the role of government in society.

Posted by: BlunderingAmerican | February 22, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

The truth be told the star of the circus, the tired old white elephant is on its last legs, they should either put it out of it's misery or change the act. The youth aren't attracted to negativity and holier than thou preachy politicians and entertainment/news dramedy shows like Beck's.

They are more in to real comedy that tells the truth, like Stewart and Colbert.

Posted by: AverageJane | February 22, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Amid all the hubbub about Rubio he is no conservative. Florida has been getting the short end of the stick, when it comes to us senate races. We were told, at least republicans and conservatives, that Martinez was better than Harris, and what did we get. Nada!! And the funny thing is Harris had a long reliable record and Martinez next to nothing, mayor of Orlando... Rubio is the same thing, he is just a sit in for Jeb Bush. Check out this story on Rubio and why he is just a CINO. WTR!!

well worth the read

Posted by: republicanblack | February 22, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Does Rubio really believe in larger narrative of American exceptionalism or is he just an "exile" who is waiting for Fidel and Raul Castro to die so he can go back to his homeland.

He pals around with terrorists. Namely Poseda-Carriles and Orlando Bosch, who was involved in the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight that killed 73 people, including members of the Cuban national fencing team. He was pardoned in 1992 by the elder Bush.

Other Cuban exiles involved in terrorist acts, Jose Dionisio Suarez and Virgilio Paz Romero, who carried out the 1976 assassination of the Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier in Washington, have been released by the G.W. Bush administration.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | February 22, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

To the ears of anyone who is not a hyper-race-conscious liberal, Beck's words do not "sound like he is condemning" racial diversity. His obvious concern was with ideological "dilution," not racial broadening, of the party. Stop race-baiting if you want others to.

Posted by: TheThinkingMansMan | February 22, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

First a disclaimer, the vast number of eligible Republicans won't even bother to go to the polls on the day the Crist-Rubio fiasco will be decided. Don't know which of the two men is more shallow and vapid and devoid of real leadership qualities. And this is not to boost Meek or Ferre, equally craven and opportunistic political figures.

The point is this whole elaborate game of "electing" US Senators and all the other offices in this country is being played by fewer and fewer people. It takes awhile but most people will recognize a rigged game, and when they figure out the dice are loaded they're out.

Crist and Rubio are poster boys for an era that is over now in the US. The well groomed empty-headed spokesmodel for the people who actually wield power in this country (in their debate the other day, all one fool wanted to talk about was "trust" and the other fool countered with the "God" card). And as this country enters into an existential crisis they will run away like Evan Bayh did the other day in Indiana. That is, in fact, why Crist chose to run for US Senate at all, he sees D.C. as a safer place than the governor's mansion when the tsunami arrives here in Florida. Sink and McCollum are so clueless they actually don't know the next governor will be swept out to sea.

The Florida Legislature is filled with the Crist-Rubio type and so they will all be hiding under their desks during this year's legislative session. Watch the cowards posture and preen about everything except actually closing Florida's gaping budget deficit. Closing the hole would take the courage of taking on the wealthy, their masters, the men who let them have fun playing politics and even give them a credit card to use.

Crist and Rubio symbolize impotence and soon irrelevance.

Posted by: natturner | February 28, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

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