Florida Senator Marco Rubio has been demonstrating his commitment to the rule of law, human rights, and clean government with a bold stand. Just not here, in his own country. That would be inconvenient.
Instead, Rubio has found a corrupt leader of some other country to pick on, a leader who can’t fight back. A leader who won’t punish him for his stand. A leader who won’t call him hurtful names. Most of all, Rubio has picked a leader who his donors dislike. Venezuelans who long for honest government have an ally in Marco Rubio. Americans don’t.
There’s a bizarre-world quality to Marco Rubio’s sustained tweetstorm against Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro. If he had ever demonstrated any cleverness you’d have to wonder if it was a purposeful Trump protest. Tweet by tweet, Rubio is outlining a case against Maduro that would operate almost perfectly against his own president.
People do strange things under pressure. Rubio is not a terrible person and he clearly has no love for Trump. These tweets read like sublimated messages from Reek, the broken pet with a tiny beacon of human feeling still sending out its faint proof of life.
Here’s Rubio on Meet the Press, almost criticizing Trump’s policy of punishing asylum-seeker by sending their kids to concentration camps:
“We sympathize with people that are coming here. America is the most generous country in the world. And, ideally, you wouldn’t put people through additional trauma once they came into the United States.”
It’s nice for him to agree that “ideally” we wouldn’t do this sort of thing. Perhaps he followed up those comments by sending a letter to his elected representatives. Meanwhile, here’s what he says about that kind of callous disregard for children’s lives when it costs him nothing, not even a stamp:
When it comes to Little Marco’s Trump cowardice, there’s a tweet for everything. Leaders laundering money is terrible and should be punished, in a retweet from John Bolton of all people:
Apparently, Rubio dislikes leaders who harass and demean journalists:
He tweeted photoshopped images of Maduro imprisoned for his crimes.
While his fellow Republicans rolled back sanctions on the Russian mobsters who backed his president’s election bid, he tweeted this nugget about Treasury sanctions against Venezuelan leaders.
Are you troubled by a president employing a press secretary to tell absurd lies to the press? So is Marco Rubio, sort of.
And naturally, because there has to be, there’s a Little Marco tweet complaining of Russian interference in Venezuela’s politics.
You might be jealous of the job Rubio’s doing protecting someone else’s democracy from Kleptocrats, but you shouldn’t be. If Rubio was an elected representative in Venezuela he’d be pocketing the money and toeing the line, just like he’s doing in DC. Meanwhile he’d probably be cranking out fiery tweets full of distractions about some other country’s leadership.
Compare his tweets about Maduro to his tweets about Saudi Arabia. Why the difference? The Saudis don’t frighten the wealthy donors who support Little Marco’s career. You don’t make a living in politics by biting the hand that feeds you. An excellent report from the Miami Herald demonstrates how this worked for Marco Rubio, and by extension, how this works for everyone else who hopes to climb to wealth in public service in either party. Ask Mitch McConnell how he became a multi-millionaire.
Rubio was in a key position to thwart the rise of Trump and then to lead an effective opposition. But Trump beat him like a schoolyard bully, turning him into Little Marco the sidekick. Now Marco is trying to ride out the Trump era by finding someone smaller to pick on. Is Maduro bad? Yes, he is. So are Saudi Arabia, Syria and Russia. So is Donald Trump.
Rubio isn’t picking on Venezuela because it’s right, he’s doing it because it’s cheap. Maduro won’t ridicule Rubio in ways that harm his standing with his base. Maduro won’t pressure Rubio’s donors to cut off his paycheck. Maduro won’t have his committee assignments curtailed, damage his ability to get Florida supporters appointed to federal courts or cushy government appointments, or show up to campaign against him in a primary. Maduro won’t give Little Marco a nickname that sticks. Maduro is harmless, giving Marco a priceless opportunity to play the badass without any risk.
By contrast, doing his job would be risky and expensive, setting him at odds with the people who fund his career and pay off his credit cards. Marco Rubio is one more Republican coward. Rubio is writing his own indictment, tweet by tweet, acknowledging the imperative to challenge a Kleptocrat while propping up his own Kleptocrat.
To further shore up his ambitions, Rubio has invested in one of those scripture of the day apps. It feeds him a Bible verse to tweet out every day, to prove his bono fides to the religious nuts who now run the GOP. Once in a while, God speaks though scripture even when we aren’t listening. There’s a tweet for everything: