bald faced untruth

Marco Rubio - Caricature by DonkeyHotey via flickr

Do Marco Rubio’s inhumanly large and pointy ears wiggle when he lies? That’s what it seemed like during last Sunday’s interview with John Dickerson on “Face the Nation.” Maybe it was just a trick of the television lens but there is reason to think that something almost fey about Rubio’s successful dissembling. Asked about possible political repercussions of failing to do what most Americans believe U.S. Senators are paid to do – to actually vote on legislation in the U.S. Senate – said, “I’m not a political strategist; I’m a candidate.” And he got away with that brazen dodge! Of course he is a political strategist. The only candidates for public office who aren’t political strategists are deceased and it is simply too late for election officials to take their names off the ballot. Politicians spend almost every waking minute calculating political advantage and disadvantage.

So how did Jeb’s disloyal protégé get away with this bald faced untruth? To be sure, it was delivered with impressive skill. But then many politicians and psychopaths can do the same. Then there is the ‘liberal bias’ of the mainstream media, that article of faith among conservatives angry that their leaders ever have to answer something more than softball questions. It is difficult to get more mainstream than Face the Nation. Surely Rubio would have been caught out by Dickerson had it not been for some distracting subterfuge, some impish mischief that aborts the follow-up question. That’s when the wiggling large pointy ears trick must work its magic. Journalists must be distracted at precisely the moment when they should be paying closest attention. In that instant when they ask themselves ‘Did I see what they thought I saw or was I mistaken?’ Rubio’s prevarication slips past their attention.

That’s probably how Rubio got away with telling Florida voters that his parents fled to the United States in 1959 as refugees from the Cuban Revolution. Mommy and daddy actually left for the United States as economic migrants in 1956 when Cuba was ruled by a pro-American conservative dictator Fulgencio Batista. But what’s three years to a ‘son of exiles’ in a hurry?

Perhaps the ear trick also explains Rubio’s successful evasions of questions about his personal finances, his curiously fluid religious affiliation, or the claim that George W. Bush was a successful president. Besides, the essence of being a postmodern conservative is the ability to revise the past to craft a narrative useful for the present. Facts may be stubborn things but can be misrepresented inconvenient.

For most Americans it does not matter much that Rubio fibs about not engaging in political strategizing when or why mommie and daddy left Cuba, or whether he is a Roman Catholic, Mormon or Protestant. (Given what happened to Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein, we know that it is always chancy to betray a member of the Bush Dynasty. But that’s Rubio’s lookout.)

What Americans should care about is that they’ll be distracted by those changeling ears when Marco “not a political strategist” Rubio tells them he would defend America’s national interests in the Middle East. The truth is that he has succeeded in becoming the favorite creature of the Israel lobby and could be counted on to do the bidding of Israel. We know this because he just anointed as its standard bearer by billionaire Paul Singer. Of course, Americans already know everything they need to know about what a Rubio administration foreign policy would be from his assessment of the George W. Bush’s presidency. We survived that reign of witches and have no need of another.

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Image: Marco Rubio - Caricature by DonkeyHotey via flickr and used under a Creative Commons license.
John Hickman

John Hickman

John Hickman is Professor of Political Science in the Department of Government and International Studies at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, where he teaches courses on war crimes, comparative politics, and research methods. He holds both a PH.D. in political science from the University of Iowa and a J.D. from Washington University, St. Louis. Hickman is the author of the 2013 Florida University Press book Selling Guantanamo.