Marco Rubio: the GOP's Very Own Barack Obama

Marco Rubio

This story in today's Washington Post ought to give even the most ardent Rubio supporters pause:

Marco Rubio is a U.S. senator. And he just can’t stand it anymore. “I don’t know that ‘hate’ is the right word,” Rubio said in an interview. “I’m frustrated.”

This year, as Rubio runs for president, he has cast the Senate — the very place that cemented him as a national politician — as a place he’s given up on, after less than one term. It’s too slow. Too rule-bound. So Rubio, 44, has decided not to run for his seat again. It’s the White House or bust.

“That’s why I’m missing votes. Because I am leaving the Senate. I am not running for reelection,” Rubio said in the last Republican debate, after Donald Trump had mocked him for his unusual number of absences during Senate votes.

If I were a Rubio fan, which I'm not, this would worry me. A lot. For Rubio resembles nobody in our current political life as much as Barack Obama, another freshman senator who took almost no interest in the Senate and instead spent much of his one and only term planning a run for the presidency; so did Hillary Clinton, although she got sidetracked into the State Department when she lost to Obama in 2008.

But in many ways, Rubio is even more audacious than Obama. Obama was the hand-picked choice of the Chicago Machine, a non-entity back bencher in the corrupt state legislature suddenly elevated into a safe seat in the World's Greatest Deliberative Body. Proving once again that any tomato can is electorally viable in Illinois.

Rubio, though, won a hard-fought Senate seat in Florida and for a time was a Tea Party/conservative Golden Boy. But he quickly showed his true colors as an amnesty backer with his participation in the infamous Gang of Eight scheme. And when that came a cropper, he pouted, retreated and then suddenly decided that what America really needs is him in the White House:

Five years ago, Rubio arrived with a potential that thrilled Republicans. He was young, ambitious, charismatic, fluent in English and Spanish, and beloved by the establishment and the tea party.

But Rubio had arrived at one of the least ambitious moments in Senate history and saw many of his ideas fizzle. Democrats killed his debt-cutting plans. Republicans killed his immigration reform. The two parties actually came together to kill his AGREE Act, a small-bore, hands-across-the-aisle bill that Rubio had designed just to get a win on something.

Now, he’s done. “He hates it,” a longtime friend from Florida said, speaking anonymously to say what Rubio would not. Which makes for an odd campaign message.

Rubio must convince voters that his decision to leave the Senate — giving up the power he already has — is actually a mark of character, a sign that he is too dedicated to public service to stay. Rubio is not a quitter, the argument goes. In fact, that’s precisely why he’s quitting this place. “He wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing now if he were a quitter,” said Norman Braman, a Florida auto dealer and one of Rubio’s longtime donors. Impatience had been a hallmark of Rubio’s career, for good and ill...