Richard Nixon’s paranoia was legendary and brought down his Presidency. It also engulfed the nation in a painful scandal. Senator Marco Rubio’s demeanor and background isn’t entirely different than Nixon’s. In fact much of his behavior in the Senate and on the national stage has been similar. Now in a position to claim the GOP nomination after what essentially was a odds-defying victory (perception IS reality in the Presidential nominating process finishing a close 3rd meant Rubio won the expectation game) in the Iowa Caucus.
Rubio in many ways seems insecure about his background and intellectual capability to keep up with the likes of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul in the GOP field. It is without question from where I sit that Cruz is more intellectually capable than Rubio and that Paul is more intellectually honest and consistent. Rubio sensing this has gone the Richard Nixon route and much like Nixon has emerged after just six years in federal office as a national player with few equals.
Alger Hiss proved a great springboard for Richard Nixon’s political career which in its early stages was based on red-baiting. Jerry Voorhis and Helen Gahagan Douglas proved to be roadkill on Nixon’s road to the US Senate and eventually the Vice Presidency. Despite a meteoric political rise that took only six years from first-time House candidate to Vice President, the paranoia and constant need to create a bogeyman would continue to follow Nixon until his final day in the White House 22 years later. Similarly, Rubio used his initial election to the US Senate to create a national profile by staking out right-wing positions and attacking the sitting President personally. Much like Nixon who attacked President Truman’s associations, Rubio has done the same with President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton making attacks petty and personal. In fact, the implications of treason toward both Presidents were used by both men when they were in Senate.
One of the chief trademarks of Nixonian behavior was a feeling of inadequacy and being inferior to those around the President who appeared more educated and refined. Rubio shows some of these same views in his attacks on liberals and European socialists. Another area of commonality is race-baiting. Richard Nixon’s campaign in 1968 began pushing the “southern strategy” though eight years earlier Nixon had run as a rical moderate an took almost half the African-American vote nationally. Rubio has used subtle-race baiting to imply the sitting President, an African-American is not loyal to the country even accusing Obama of “deliberately weakening America,” and implying he has some sort of view of this country formed by his racial and international origins.
Much like Nixon, Rubio speaks of a “silent majority” of Americans who faced with snobbery of the elites are looking to make their way in the American society. While Rubio does not speak specifically of a silent majority his rhetoric and reasoning is similar. The Junior Senator from Florida has tried to sell a mix of anti-intellectualism, phony patriotism, religion and “freedom” to garner support in the GOP primaries. He is far and away the most dangerous figure to be taken seriously by the Washington press corp in a Presidential campaign for a major party nod since Ronald Reagan.
Paranoia about opposing candidates and professional associations make Rubio again similar to Nixon. Ralph Arza and David Rivera who have both reappeared around Rubio in recent times can be likened in some fashion to John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman as power players willing to resort to any end in order to achieve victory.
Given the similarities in campaign styles one must wonder if Rubio will ultimately govern in the same vindictive manner that Nixon did. Considering he has already basically accused the sitting President of committing treason (at some point a media member is going to have to ask Rubio for specifics as to why Obama in his mind has weakened America and what he believes the President’s motivation was – for example is he a foreign agent or does his racial background make him respect America less than Rubio’s background does? I don’t know the answer but the question needs to be asked) do we really believe that things will be different if he is elected.
Some quotes to ponder below:
“I don’t believe his (Obama’s) behavior the last few weeks is either dignified or worthy of the office he seeks. We have a president now that has no class. We have a president now that does selfie stick video, invites Youtube stars there, people that eat cereal out of a bathtub, he goes on comedy shows to talk about something as serious as Iran. The list goes on. It’s important to have a presidency that restores dignity and class to the White House.”
“Barack Obama has deliberately weakened America.”
“Not only is Hillary Clinton incompetent, she’s also a liar,”
(on buying a gun in December) “I have a right to protect my family if someone were to come after us. In fact, if ISIS were to visit us or our communities at any moment, the last line of defense between ISIS and my family is the ability I have to protect my family from them or from a criminal or anyone else who seeks to do us harm. Millions of Americans feel that way.”
“He (Obama) has made an intentional effort to humble us back to size as if to say ‘We no longer need to be so powerful because our power has done more harm than good,'” Rubio said. “America is in far greater danger today than it was eight years ago.”
Given this body of quotes it is worth the worry about how Rubio would govern as President. Will he have the humility and level of respect for his opposition required to be a leader of all Americans? That is in serious question. His Presidency could result in the same sort of polarization as Richard Nixon’s and that is something this generation of Americans should look to avoid.