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The Cruzification of Marco Rubio

The Cruzification of Marco Rubio

Let’s give it up for Marco Rubio! After months of getting his butt whipped in the rabid-obstructionism department by Ted Cruz, the junior senator from Florida emerged the hands-down winner in the race to trash the Murray-Ryan budget deal. The entire political chattering class expressed awe this week at just how quickly Rubio’s team pushed out his “this deal sucks” statement. It was as though some poor staffer had been assigned to sit around 24-7 with his finger hovering over the “send” button, just waiting for the deal to drop.

Not that Rubio’s victory was one merely of speed. He lapped the field on intensity as well, pursuing an impressively aggressive schedule of media denunciations: Huckabee, Hannity, Megyn Kelly—even a full-on column on Breitbart.com,warning of how the deal was further threatening the American Dream. No wayanyone can mistake where Rubio stands on this issue. He is 100 percent opposed to derailing the American Dream by allowing sequestration to be tinkered with.

Now, some might find Rubio’s current attachment to sequestration a bit rich, seeing that he opposed it a couple of years back. And not just kinda, sorta opposed it. Two years ago this week, Rubio was among the handful of Republican senatorsdecrying the damage that such “arbitrary fiscal arithmetic” would have on our national defense and vowing to find a smarter alternative. Small wonder thatCommentary’s Pete Wehner felt moved to marvel this week, in a column titled “Marco Rubio and the Perils of Opportunism”: “Now he’s criticizing a budget deal that would increase spending on defense while also slightly cutting the deficit, arguing that we shouldn’t give up the sequestration deal that he initially opposed. And he’s the one complaining about a lack of ‘long-term thinking.’”

This is not to suggest that Wehner—or anyone else for that matter—is remotely puzzled by Rubio’s behavior. As Wehner goes on to observe: “Senator Rubio strikes me as a person not only highly attuned to criticisms of him from the base, but overly reactive to them, adjusting and responding moment by moment. One senses that believing he badly hurt himself with the base because of his stand on immigration, he’s now scrambling to ingratiate himself with it. It isn’t a particularly impressive thing to watch.”

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