So let's get the silly stuff out of the way first, because all news should be led with silly stuff, right? As I posted on my Facebook account earlier today, "You know it's a rough Monday when you're buttonholing Marco Rubio next to the Bounty paper towels at BJ's. Just sayin'." And a rough Monday it was! Sen. Marco Rubio, who is still just as blurry and shapeless as he was when I last encountered him in the Florida House chambers (his daughters were having a princess party upstairs!), showed up at the giant-portions-of-mayonnaise hellhole known as BJ's Wholesale Club near the Mall at Millenia to sign his new memoir, An American Son, for a bevvy of followers that ranged from doe-eyed, soap-opera moms to golfing dads. Only an estimated 150 or so people made it out according to one publicist we spoke with, but that didn't mean that Marco did not require a giant bus worthy of a stadium tour for transport. Rubio, who is rumored to have failed his vetting for the Veepstakes, is still a really big, cuddly deal, apparently, and Republicans are short on cuddly these days.
Anyway, the reason we wanted to be there – other than to make jokes about blowjobs, wipe-up rags and large portions – was to hopefully bend Rubio's ear on the latest slew of controversy to come out about his amorphous immigration stance in the wake of his book – and a competing, less flattering book, The Rise of Marco Rubio, penned by Washington Post reporter, Manuel Roig-Franzia. The latter is the one that calls into question the roots of Rubio's very "American" rise, specifically the parts surrounding his grandfather, Pedro Victor Garcia. Rubio's Grandfather-gate is not terribly new: The semantic volleyball of "refugee" and "exile" was exhausted months ago. But the question was reignited for us by a July 2 piece in The New Yorker by Steven Coll, "Nation of Immigrants." It begins like this: "On August 31, 1962, a sixty-three-year-old Cuban citizen named Pedro Víctor García boarded a Pan American Airways flight to Miami without a valid visa. After he landed, immigration police detained him. They could have deported Victor back to Havana immediately, but, for reasons that are unclear, they allowed him to stay, and to plead his case. Eventually, he became a legal resident of the United States."
Fair enough, but the crux of the piece is that Rubio and most other Republicans are stymieing the progress of immigration reform by repeatedly pandering to a rabid base. To wit:
There is no shame in Pedro Víctor’s story, of course; it merely illustrates, with a relatively happy example, the arbitrariness of America’s immigration system. The shame lies in how the Republican Party—and leaders like Rubio—offers only empty gestures toward compromise with the Administration to fix that system, and has instead adopted a xenophobic platform that gives priority to security crackdowns and rollbacks of immigrants’ rights.