Rubio’s Fast Talk on Immigration

Maybe it’s because Marco Rubio is on my mind today, but have to say, Brother Benen raises one of those obvious but forgettable points about the nature of the Floridian’s massive flip-flop on immigration reform, as expressed in an interview with John Harwood:

This week, the GOP candidate sat down with CNBC’s John Harwood, and he continued to reject the ideas he used to support.

HARWOOD: You pushed that Senate bill that had a path to citizenship after a number of years that ended with people – they had 10 years they could apply for a green card, right?

RUBIO: Right, some of them. Right. The ones that qualify.

HARWOOD: That’s right, and you’ve said more recently you support letting them go for a green card still but no special path. As you know, the Senate bill had a special path… Do you still support that provision?

RUBIO: No, because we can’t pass it.

The senator added he’s “convinced” that policymakers cannot address the immigration issue in one comprehensive package, which is itself a bizarre argument. Less than a year ago, a comprehensive solution enjoyed the support of the White House, a majority of the Senate, a majority of the House, a majority of the public, the Chamber of Commerce, labor leaders, reform advocates, law enforcement, and the faith community.

How can Rubio be “convinced” an idea is impossible when we already know how plainly possible it was as recently as 11 months ago? And more to the point, why should anyone take Rubio seriously on an issue when he goes out of his way to disagree with his own policy positions?

I’d add to that one more observation: if Rubio were not running for president, he’d have almost certainly given immigration policy a rest without changing his position when his Senate bill was not taken up by the House. He would have waited for the primary cycle to pass before Republicans came back to their senses and pursued the comprehensive reform approach favored by the 2000, 2004 and 2008 GOP presidential nominees, not to mention that dude back in the 80s these people love so much. Because he’s a presidential candidate himself, he chose instead to become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.