Blogger Jonathan Chait: Rubio’s Not ‘Channeling Conservative Anger,’ But He’s Still a Right-Wing Extremist

In a Wednesday post, New York magazine blogger Jonathan Chait sought to debunk the belief that Marco Rubio is a moderate. As for why some might see him that way, Chait suggested a few reasons, among them that Rubio, unlike fellow Republican presidential contenders Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, “avoids statements that make him appear ostentatiously deranged.”

Chait argued that while Rubio’s focus on positioning himself for the fall campaign “holds him back from viscerally channeling conservative anger,” the Florida senator is nonetheless a hardcore right-winger on economic and social issues and hasn’t distanced himself from “the excesses of the Bush administration’s wild-eyed response to the 9/11 attacks.”

From Chait’s post (bolding added):

Rubio…is running a campaign that is more or less optimized for the general election rather than the primary — a tactic that holds him back from viscerally channeling conservative anger…But because Rubio has found himself principally challenged by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, who are running campaigns based purely on gratifying Republican base instincts, his strategy has magnified the contrast to the point where Rubio’s principal ideological identifier is now “moderate”…There is no sense in which that description is true…

…While much of the Republican Party has recoiled from the excesses of the Bush administration’s wild-eyed response to the 9/11 attacks, Rubio has not...Rubio now delights his audiences by promising to torture suspected terrorists, who will “get a one-way ticket to Guantánamo, where we’re going to find out everything they know.”

On social issues, Rubio has endorsed a complete ban on abortions, even in cases of rape and incest…He has promised to reverse executive orders protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination and to appoint justices who would reverse same-sex marriage. The centerpiece of Rubio’s domestic policy is a massive tax cutnearly half of which would go to the highest-earning 5 percent of taxpayers…He has proposed to deregulate the financial system, thrilling Wall Street…

What, then, accounts for Rubio’s moderate image? One reason is the issues Rubio has chosen to emphasize. His conventionally conservative domestic policies would, if enacted, bring about an epochal shift in the role of government and the distribution of wealth in the American economy…But Rubio has not emphasized these ideas publicly. He has given far more attention to his plan to increase college affordability…

A second reason is Rubio’s ill-fated 2013 attempt to shepherd bipartisan immigration reform through Congress…But his history provides no reason to believe the issue sits close to Rubio’s heart…

…Cruz…whip[s] up conservative suspicions that the Republican failure to enact its agenda over President Obama’s objections represents a secret betrayal. Trump’s response is to break the stalemate through unique force of personality. Both of them signal their solidarity with the base through demonstrations of anger and cultural resentment. But…Trump and Cruz harden a cultural polarization that seems to leave their party at a disadvantage in the general election. [Rubio] avoids statements that make him appear ostentatiously deranged.

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters