Monday, January 04, 2016

Rubio Pro-Patriot Act Speech Slams Ted Cruz And....Trey Gowdy?

by JASmius

I understand what Rubes was trying to do with this speech - playing up the national security/counter-terrorism issue, one of his strengths, and while not a weakness of Ted Cruz, certainly not as much of a strength for him as it is for the Florida senator - but still, this is a rake-stepping rookie mistake:

“If ISIS had lobbyists in Washington, they would have spent millions to support the anti-Intelligence law that was just passed with the help of some Republicans now running for president.”…

i.e. Ted Cruz.  We get it.  Although, wouldn't ISIS have simply flown an airliner into the U.S. Capitol while Congress was in session instead?  Seems more like their MO.

During Monday’s speech, Rubio said he would bring back the old Patriot Act program, which featured the bulk collection of telephone metadata by the National Security Agency.

i.e. He would propose it, and the next Congress may or may not revive it.  Unless he plans on exploiting the despotic tools The One would be leaving behind.

“I will not only restore the intelligence programs Obama and Congress have destroyed, I will strengthen them. Because ISIS does not use carrier pigeons to communicate. They use sophisticated encryption and carefully secured networks,” Rubio said in Hooksett, N.H. “It was already difficult to infiltrate them, now it is even harder.”…

In an apparent jab at Senate rivals known for their extended orations on the floor of the chamber, Rubio said that the security threats emanating from the Middle East that, “words and political stunts cannot ensure our security. ISIS cannot be filibustered.”

Not a bad line, that.  I certainly support bringing back the Patriot Act to full strength.  And tying Cruz to Rand Paul in this context is anything but a bad idea.

But....there were Republicans other than those currently running for president who were on the side of gutting the Patriot Act - and some of them have already endorsed.....Marco Rubio:

In fact, twenty-one of Rubio’s twenty-four congressional supporters backed the USA Freedom Act — a bill Rubio has said “weaken[s]… U.S. intelligence programs” — this year (a twenty-fifth supporter, Representative Darin LaHood, wasn’t in Congress at the time of the vote). And of these twenty-one members of Congress, more than a dozen co-sponsored a version of the USA Freedom Act in the previous Congress

Chief among Rubio’s latest endorsements is Representative Trey Gowdy, a Republican congressman whose support Rubio touted widely this week in Iowa. But Gowdy was a co-sponsor of the USA Freedom Act. His office did not return a request for comment. Representative Darrell Issa, another prominent Rubio backer, also co-sponsored this year’s NSA overhaul. [emphases added]

This may not be as bad as it sounds - the political winds at the time were, for whatever cockeyed reason, blowing against Patriot Act renewal, and a lot of this co-sponsoring of and support for the "USA Freedom" Act was a matter of salvaging as much of Patriot as they could.  The same is also true of Ted Cruz's support for it.  They were simply doing the best they could with the situational reality they had.  It was Rand Paul that was driving that lunacy, and he might not even be in the Senate after this November.

But that underscores the unnecessity of Rubio championing his natsec bona fides by creating negative contrasts with rivals - and supporters - that are exaggerations at best, and mischaracterizations at worst.  His speech would have been perfectly fine without the second half of that first sentence.  With it, it diverts public attention away from his strong issue and onto the rookie mistake that will also dog his campaign as Iowa and New Hampshire approach.

And if, as Allahpundit believes, Rubio's attack is aimed at Chris Christie and not Ted Cruz, the outcome is pretty much the same.

I've always had the impression that Marco Rubio was really running for vice president in a Walker administration.  Now he's approaching the point, since he's giving up his senate seat, of having no place to go.

Maybe he can apply to be Harry (G)Reid's assistant.

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