Rubio’s extremism

I’ve made this point before, but as Margaret Talbot has just dedicated a whole column to it, it seems worth making again– Marco Rubio may be the “establishment” candidate, but he is really, really far right.  So far right, in fact, that it could very well hurt his electability.  Talbot:

From a distance, it’s easy to see why. Rubio is more presentable than Cruz or Trump (or, for that matter, Chris Christie)—more likable, as Cruz keeps reminding people, trying to make it sound like a curse. At times, Rubio can project a soothing, authoritative calm not unlike Ben Carson’s but without the mooniness. He has a legitimately stirring family story: [all emphases mine] he’s the Spanish-speaking, Cuban-American son of two immigrants who worked, respectively, as a bartender and a hotel maid. (“If I’m our nominee, how is Hillary Clinton going to lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck?” he asked, memorably, at the first debate. “I was raised paycheck to paycheck.”)…

One thing Rubio is not, however, is moderate, or even close to it. And to the extent that far-right politics are actually off-putting to voters in a general election—to Democrats but also independents and younger voters, who are instinctually liberal on social issues—that poses a bit of a problem for the scenario in which Rubio is the savior of reason and the G.O.P. He ran for his Senate seat in 2010 with Tea Party support. He is firmly opposed to same-sex marriage and to abortion, with no exception for cases of rape or incest or the health of the mother—only for the mother’s life…

Rubio has a perfect record from the N.R.A. and a lifetime rating of ninety-eight per cent from the American Conservative Union. He is opposed to raising the minimum wage. As Geraghty notes, he “contends the legislative efforts to fight climate change are economically self-destructive and expresses skepticism that human behavior is driving climate change.”…

Telling moderate Republicans that Rubio is the obvious, joyous choice for them means asking them to ignore who Rubio is—or, perhaps, to abandon their notions of moderation. What Rubio’s anointment as the establishment candidate really shows is how far rightward the Republican Party has moved. And, maybe most striking of all, in his case, how intolerant it has become on immigration.

The bad news (for Democrats) is that being ideologically extreme does not seem to hurt presidential candidates as much as you’d think, and maybe even less than ever in these days of super-polarized politics.  But that said, it will not have zero negative impact– especially the same-sex marriage issue– and it what I suspect would be a close election between Rubio and Clinton, his ideological extremism could well be the difference.

Of course, personally, I hope it doesn’t come to this and we get to see Hillary cruise past Cruz, but Rubio certainly has a solid chance of becoming the nominee.

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Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s week in pictures:

People climb on an artificial ice-wall in Liberec, about 100 km north of Prague, Czech Republic

People climb on an artificial ice-wall in Liberec, about 100 km north of Prague, Czech RepublicPicture: AP

If Bernie were the nominee…

Not going to happen, but good post from David Roberts:

This presidential race has been weird in a number of ways, but one of the weirdest is that successful outsider insurgents who have a real shot at their parties’ nominations havebarely been attacked at all

Meanwhile, the left insurgent candidate, Bernie Sanders, has also had a mostly free ride.  [all emphases mine]

If you say something like this on social media, you’ll be beset by furious Sanders supporters. (If there’s one thing it’s easy to do on social media, it’s get yourself beset by furious Sanders supporters.) But it remains true that Sanders has faced very few serious attacks…

When Sanders supporters discuss these attacks [from Clinton], though, they do so in tones of barely contained outrage, as though it is simply disgusting what they have to put up with. Questioning the practical achievability of single-payer health care. Impugning the broad electoral appeal of socialism. Is nothing sacred?

But c’mon. This stuff is patty-cakes compared with the brutalization he would face at the hands of the right in a general election

But Sanders supporters do not give the impression that they are cognizant of Sander’s vulnerabilities.

Partly this is because the GOP has been very careful so far not to go after Sanders. They show every indication of preferring him as an opponent, so they have no reason to hurt his chances in the primary.

But if he wins, they will rain down fire.

And the organs of the right will feel absolutely no obligation to be fair. They’re not going to be saying, like Sanders’s Democratic critics, “Aw, Bernie, you dreamer.”

They’re going to be digging through his trash, investigating known associates, rifling through legal records.

They’re going to ask struggling middle-class workers how they feel about a trillion dollars in new taxes to fund a grand socialist scheme to take away everyone’s health care insurance and hand them over to government doctors.

They’re going to ask when he stopped being a communist, and when he objects that he was never a communist they’re going to ask why he’s so defensive about his communist past, why he’s so eager to avoid the questions that have been raised, the questions that people are talking about.

And when Sanders and his supporters splutter that it’s inaccurate and unjust and outrageous, the right will not give a single fuck…

I have no real way of knowing whether Sanders and his advisers appreciate what’s coming if he wins the nomination, or whether they have a serious plan to deal with it, something beyond hoping a political revolution will drown it out.

But at least based on my experience, the Bernie legions are not prepared. They seem convinced that the white working class would rally to the flag of democratic socialism. And they are in a state of perpetual umbrage that Sanders isn’t receiving the respect he’s due, that he’s facing even mild attacks from Clinton’s camp…

In the name of diverting some small percentage of the social media bile surely headed my way, let’s be clear about a few things: This is not an argument against supporting Sanders. There’s nothing dumber than making political decisions based on how the other side might react. (For one thing, that would have foreclosed supporting Obama, a black urbanite with a funny name, in 2008.)

But it is an argument that Sanders has gaping vulnerabilities that have not yet been exploited at all, so his followers should not yet feel sanguine about his ability to endure conservative attacks. Also they should get a thicker skin, quick.

And, yes, of course Hillary Clinton will be attacked too. The conservative movement’s hatred of her is rightly legendary…

This is not to say that these rehashed attacks can never work, or that Clinton can’t be successfully tarred this time around. They’ve already driven her unfavorables pretty high.

But if there’s one thing people can know for certain about Clinton, it’s that she’s resilient in the face of attack.

Yes, yes, and yes.  My niece shared a charming little link this morning meant to assuage all the fears of the people who want to support Bernie, but are, presumably, just too pragmatic.  My favorite part was arguing that he is more electable than Clinton based on polls matching Bernie up against various Republicans.  Those polls simply have so little value at this point, where neither Bernie, nor most of the Republican candidates, have faced the massive onslaught of negativity they will in a general election.  Hillary’s negatives are already really high, but presumably, there’s not much reason to think they’ll go higher.  In Bernie’s case, though, safe to say, there’s lots of room for growth in his negatives.

Maybe I’m wrong about Bernie.  Maybe every Political Scientist I know that studies American elections is wrong about Bernie.  But, based on years of experience, and trusting the years of experience of many I know, I’ll go with Hillary as the far more electable candidate in a general election.

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