Senator Marco Rubio has tried to recover from his dismal finish in New Hampshire, which was brought about by his robotic debate performance last weekend, by emphasizing… his foreign policy credentials. The 44-year-old senator, who finished in fifth place after Chris Christie exposed him as a scripted lightweight who is not ready to be president, is now arguing that no other Republican candidate has his experience on national security. Since he was first elected to the Senate in 2010, Rubio says, he has applied himself to the American role overseas. The Wall Street Journal reports today:
The truth of Rubio’s brag is that he is the robot of the neoconservative Israel lobby. His biggest backer when he ran for Senate five years ago was Norman Braman, a Florida billionaire who accompanied Rubio on the politician’s first trip to Israel days after the election. Notwithstanding his poor work in New Hampshire, Rubio is still credible today because he has neocon godfather Bill Kristol’s backing and still hopes to win the Sheldon Adelson Primary: getting the millions of dollars in support that Sheldon Adelson can provide. Adelson has said, “There’s no such thing as a Palestinian”; Rubio has said it’s impossible to have a Palestinian state. Adelson has called on President Obama to nuke Iran, not negotiate. Rubio has said that he would tear up the Iran deal on day 1 of his presidency. Talk about scripted!
A real discussion of Rubio’s fall ought to entail some meditation of that rise. Why was a man of such limited political seasoning heralded as a plausible establishment presidential candidate? One reason only, because Rubio had the support of the rightwing Israel lobby. Sadly, Donald Trump is more likely to talk about this important factor than the media. He warned weeks ago that Rubio was about to become Sheldon Adelson’s “perfect little puppet.” And last week an Adelson paper endorsed Rubio for president.
It’s an old pattern. The lobby seeks out young rising talents– or to use Will Rogers’ definition of a politician, the best looking man money can buy– and helps make their careers. Bill Kristol once bragged at AIPAC about the grooming of Senator/Vice President Dan Quayle. Early on, Hart Hasten, a Holocaust survivor and Indianapolis businessman, cultivated Quayle, “spent a lot of time” with him as a congressman, and shaped Quayle’s view of Israel. As Quayle rose, Kristol himself took over the grooming, becoming Quayle’s chief of staff.
Kristol also pushed the career of Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, 38. Cotton spent just one term in the House before leaping to the Senate in 2014 with a $1 million campaign donation from the Emergency Committee for Israel, Kristol’s organization. Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin haled Cotton, saying that with Joe Lieberman leaving the Senate, “hawks” had fewer lawmakers “devoted to national security.” Just what Rubio has devoted himself to.
Cotton was in office only a few weeks last year when he took up the battle against the Iran deal, writing the notorious letter to the ayatollahs (signed by the 47 traitors) saying that the president had limited authority to cut a deal.
Of course, the neoconservative Israel lobby failed to kill the Iran deal last year, and even if Marco Rubio becomes president, he won’t be able to kill the deal in 2017. But the rightwing lobby remains a potent force inside the Republican Party because of money.
Last night on Hardball, Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg News said that Chris Christie had been called by party leaders to pull in his horns on Marco Rubio. He’d gone too far against “a rising star,” Christie was told. Carlson is surely referring to rightwing supporters of Israel who can raise a lot of money for New Jersey politicians. New Jersey Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker are both ardent Israel backers. Menendez was one of four Democrats to oppose the Iran deal, and Booker had to apologize a lot when he supported it. At least Hillary Clinton runs against the Koch Brothers and the gun lobby. No one calls out the Israel lobby.
I’m betting that Rubio will hang around. That in spite of his miserable turn in New Hampshire, his candidacy will be revived. He’s just too useful to the rightwing lobby.
Thanks to Adam Horowitz