Marco Rubio, the Grand Old Party's Great Hispanic Hope, appears to be the party's early frontrunner for president in 2016, which must make him nervous. Early frontrunners have often shown a talent for missing the White House, as the governors Romney, George and Mitt, discovered. Yet Rubio is hardly shunning the limelight, embracing instead every opportunity to go after Barack Obama. The latest gauntlet hurled at the president's feet was Rubio's reaction during the weekend over a leaked draft of the White House strategy for granting citizenship for illegal immigrants. The Florida senator is himself part of the bipartisan "gang of eight" that is promoting a "pathway to citizenship" for illegal immigrants, but he was irate that the White House was drafting a plan without input from himself and other Republicans.
Chosen by the party brass to deliver the GOP response to the State of the Union address last week, Rubio, a bilingual Floridian of Cuban descent, delivered his address in both English and Spanish, while confining his criticism of the president to domestic economic policies. On Friday, however, he was on the Foreign Policy magazine website with an article taking Obama to task over his handling of international affairs. His critique of the Obama doctrine reads like standard-issue neocon talking points, suggesting that a Rubio foreign policy would be little different, if at all, from that of George W. Bush — or Barack Obama.
For all of its bold, assertive rhetoric, the foreign policy Republicans are pushing as an alternative to Obama's supposed passivity is really a call for more of the same. When Obama increases economic sanctions on Iran, Republicans call for still more and tougher sanctions — "crippling sanctions" is the phrase often used by Romney in last year's presidential campaign. When the president condemned the Tehran regime for its brutal crackdown on dissidents, the condemnation wasn't strong enough and wasn't issued soon enough. When he pledges virtually unqualified support for Israel, Republicans complain he is throwing Israel "under the bus." When he expresses support for the Syrian rebels and arranges arms shipments from foreign sources, it isn't enough to suit Republican hawks. When Obama sent U.S. bombers to the rescue of rebel forces in Libya in 2011, the fact that he intervened militarily in a foreign war without seeking congressional approval seemed the least of the concerns of most congressional Republicans. Depending on the day of the week and who was speaking at any particular time, the complaint could be summarized as, Obama was wrong to go into Libya and he should have done it sooner.
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Photo of Sen. Marco Rubio: AP Images