Marco Rubio was beside himself at about 10:45 pm Florida time last Saturday, as the Democratic debate was winding down in Iowa. Answering a question about the recent protests on the University of Missouri campus, Secretary Hillary Clinton stated, "I come from the '60s, long time ago. There was a lot of activism on campus -- civil rights activism, anti-war activism, women's rights activism," she said. "And I do appreciate the way young people are standing up and speaking out."
When asked why people should vote for him over Secretary Clinton several days earlier, Rubio had stated, "I couldn't contain myself. I've been waiting all my life to answer that question."
Rubio could barely wait to hit the airwaves after the debate. His campaign quickly prepared a video, highlighting the Secretary's quote about activism of the 1960s, wherein Rubio says, "This election is a generational choice about the future of America." As he has stated repeatedly since he announced his candidacy, Ms. Clinton a "leader from yesterday."
Rubio has made it clear that Hillary Clinton is simply too old with not much left to offer America. People of a certain generation are stuck in the 1960s. And he's the answer.
As a young adult in the 1960s, I can say that clearly, those were not perfect days. On campus, one was faced with (and sometimes involved in) tumult, as we constantly questioned the orderly yet rigid beliefs that we were raised with. We were shocked when we saw fellow students at Kent State shot, or friends being beaten at the Chicago Democratic Convention.
But out of that caldron came change. The 1960s brought our country civil rights laws and desegregation; the women's "quiet revolution"; the first War on Poverty and the Equal Opportunity (Jobs) Act; the first urban mass transit funding; birth control; Open Housing Laws; Medicare and Medicaid; the Voting Rights Act and the first federally-funded scholarships, for starters.
The 1960s was an era of revolution by any measure, and one which created a remarkable generation of leaders who have been molding and remolding our country ever since.
Marco Rubio dispels that era, believing, evidently, that no past is prologue. But perhaps any Democrat or Republican who believes that Mr. Rubio's attributes can trump the experience, intelligence, and international savvy of Secretary Clinton should get to know the real Marco Rubio.
First, Marco Rubio is not a fan of the truth. For starters, he has claimed to be the son of Cuban exiles. Until last year, Marco Rubio claimed that his parents had fled to the shores of America as exiles from Fidel Castro's Cuba, his early Senate biography claiming, "In 1971, Marco was born in Miami to Cuban-born parents who came to America following Fidel Castro's takeover."
In fact, Rubio's parents arrived in the U.S. in 1956, before the revolution. Rubio's grandfather, according to a recent biography, was an illegal immigrant to the United States. Disillusioned by his financial prospects in America, his grandfather returned to Cuba two weeks after Fidel Castro took power in 1959. He returned to the States two years later, without a visa, was ordered deported, but stayed in the U.S. illegally, resurfacing in 1967 to petition for permanent residency.
Perhaps due to his dishonesty about his family's immigration saga, Rubio is not popular with Latinos. A Huffington Post poll of Latinos who voted in the 2014 election showed that only 31 percent have a favorable view of Rubio, while 36 percent have an unfavorable view of him and 26 percent have a "very unfavorable view."
Second, with Mr. Rubio's inability to handle one family's finances -- his own -- it is unclear how he would handle the $ 17 trillion U.S. economy. In the second debate, commentator Betsy Quick, quoting Rubio's 2012 book, An American Son and other widely-publicized reports, asked about how Rubio accidentally inter-mingled campaign money with his personal money; faced foreclosure on a second home that he bought; appointed his wife, Jeanette, as treasurer of a political action committee; needed money and had to liquidate a $68,000 retirement fund in 2014, costing him thousands of dollars in taxes and penalties. (In the book, Mr. Rubio confessed to "a lack of bookkeeping skills and at the debate, responded that these were examples of partisan smear tactics.)
Third, Rubio's numerous positions on climate change personify the words "flip flopper." When Rubio began in the Florida Legislature, he shepherded a landmark bill to limit greenhouse gas emissions, voiced caution about drilling off the Sunshine State's coast, and argued that climate change was real. "Global warming, dependence on foreign sources of fuel, and capitalism have come together to create opportunities for us that were unimaginable just a few short years ago,"
As soon as Rubio entered the U.S. Senate race, his tune changed radically. He called cap-and-trade emissions plans "California-style" social engineering. When asked about climate change during the debates, Rubio stated, "I believe climate is changing because there's never been a moment where the climate is not changing. The question is, what percentage of that or what is due to human activity? ...Scientists can't tell us what impact it would have on reversing these changes. But I can tell you with certainty it would have a devastating impact on our economy."
Perhaps most worrisome is Senator Rubio's stance on abortion. The Los Angeles Times reported in June that Rubio did not see coherent reasons for abortion in cases such as rape or incest. The candidate said he did not feel it was right to "correct one tragedy with a second tragedy," and would rather "err on the side of life."
There are jobs in the world that demand finely tuned judgment and common sense, attributes often forged in a cauldron of attempts, mistakes, retries, failures and victories. The 1960s produced a disastrous war in Vietnam that claimed 58,220 American military lives, and harmed the emotional and physical lives of part of our generation. But importantly, many of us who were there, took the lessons of the 1960s and dedicated ourselves, as Secretary Clinton has, to bettering our remarkable, albeit flawed, country that Marco Rubio could thrive in.
In 1984, Republican President Ronald Regan, 73 years old at the time, debated his opponent for a second term, Walter Mondale, who was 56 years old. When asked about the 17 year age difference, one of the most famous debate quotes of all times emerged. Perhaps this quote is truer today than yesterday,
"I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."
Let's hope that American voters will weigh in for maturity and experience next November.