There’s a particular topic I’ve been avoiding for quite some time. Perhaps “avoiding” is the wrong word, as it denotes a sort of fear. Rather, I’ve let a dog lie because it didn’t seem important in the long run. I was wrong.
As the race for the Republican nomination becomes increasingly about Cruz v. Rubio, a necessary topic has come up that didn’t need to be talked about before. Cruz and Rubio differ on several key issues, but the issue over which they differ the most, and one of the more contentious fights between them, is immigration.
What caused this idea to catch fire in my mind was when one of my conservative friends on Facebook posted the following:
“For those of you who constantly invoke Reagan every thirty seconds, but are against Rubio because of his position on immigration, watch this video.”
With his message, he posted a video of Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. talking about illegal immigration. The point was to show that Ronald Reagan had advocated for an allegedly compassionate stance on immigration–and later granted amnesty in 1986 to numerous illegal immigrants.
Before, I would have let something like this die, because to give it oxygen seemed pointless. However, this invocation is going to become more prominent as the fight between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz escalates. Therefore, I believe it’s important to address it now.
There are those who say that to admire someone, or to hold someone in very high esteem, we must also agree with them on every issue wholeheartedly, and if we don’t, we are then behaving hypocritically. That’s the implication being made by my friend.
For all the non-presidential candidates among us, I’ll provide a better example.
If you deeply admire your father, and speak of him often when discussing your life choices, you therefore agree with everything he’s ever done. And if you don’t, you are no longer allowed to publicly admire him or use his name when speaking about life.
This particular barb was pointed at Ted Cruz, of whom I am indeed a fan. My friend even pejoratively referred to me as a Ted Cruz “fanboy,” implying blind devotion, and a lack of insight. But here’s the problem with his assumption: I admire Ted Cruz, but I don’t hate every other Republican candidate.
There are other candidates whom I greatly respect, including Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, and even Marco Rubio. However, after having reviewed their various policy positions, I’ve come to the conclusion that Ted Cruz is the most consistent conservative. I also believe he’s the best chance we have against Hillary Clinton.
Cruz frequently invokes Ronald Reagan to show the parallels between this election and the 1980 election. He’s also an admirer of Reagan’s presidency, both in terms of policy and strategy. Cruz is a very strategic person, as anyone who watches him at the debates can see. This does not mean, however, that Cruz agrees with every single thing Reagan ever did. It doesn’t have to.
Given this, why would my friend make such an implication? There are two possible reasons: Ignorance, or strategy. My friend is a very intelligent person, who seems relatively well-versed in politics, so I am forced to go with the latter. He’s a Rubio fan–at least so far as the Cruz v. Rubio fight is concerned.
His Facebook comment is meant to shield Rubio by linking him to Ronald Reagan–widely considered the greatest conservative president–at the expense of those who would disagree with amnesty.
But as I said, Cruz disagreeing with Reagan on one issue doesn’t somehow invalidate Cruz’s policy ideas. It’s a preposterous position to hold.
So what of the Rubio/Cruz divide? Well, Rubio is well-known to have been one of the members of the senate Gang of Eight, who pushed for amnesty. In the debate Tuesday, Rubio said that in time, if illegal immigrants work and pay taxes, etc., he would consider legalization down the road. He said it’s probably not popular, but that he would do it. This was fine. I disagree with his position, but I respect that he made it known. Many others would have demurred.
What I don’t respect was that he lied about Cruz:
RUBIO: “Ted, you support legalizing people who are in this country illegally…”
CRUZ: “I understand that Marco wants to raise confusion. It is not accurate–what he just said–that I supported legalization. Indeed, I led the fight against his legalization and amnesty bill.”
After a bit of a dust-up, Rubio continued:
“Does Ted Cruz rule out ever legalizing people that are in this country illegally now?”
“I have never supported legalization, and I do not intend to support legalization.”
You can watch the exchange here.
Rubio’s assertion regarding amnesty is inaccurate. In November, Rubio said the following on the campaign trail:
“Ted is a supporter of legalizing people that are in this country illegally.”
The notion that Cruz supports legalization is based on one thing. In 2013, during the Gang of Eight immigration reform battle, Cruz offered an amendment to the proposed bill.
According to Bloomberg:
“The Cruz amendment would have stripped out the bill’s controversial pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, while keeping the provision that allowed them to gain legal status and work permits. Rubio’s campaign says that means that Cruz is for making undocumented immigrants legal to work in the U.S., just not to proceed to eventual citizenship.”
What Cruz did, however, is widely known as a parliamentary trick designed to undermine bad legislation.
More from Bloomberg:
“But others who were monitoring the bill’s progress at the time believe the senator was employing parliamentary jujitsu, adding a provision that would undermine support for the bill. The key evidence for that: Though Cruz’s amendment failed, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and Utah Senator Mike Lee, two fierce Republican opponents of legalizing undocumented people, voted for it. Democrats, who controlled the Senate, had made a path to citizenship a non-negotiable component of reform.”
There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that Mike Lee, let alone Jeff Sessions, would have ever voted for this amendment if it weren’t a poison pill.
Cruz’s amendment was a “poison pill,” not at all dissimilar to what Rubio did with the Iran deal when he offered an amendment stipulating that Iran recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Andrew C. McCarthy of National Review writes:
“Rubio aggressively opposed the Iran deal. His objective in proposing the futile amendment was not to win the volley, it was to win the match. Obama and his fellow Democrats were rationalizing support for the deal with claims that Iran was trustworthy and that the deal would promote regional stability. Rubio’s amendment was a shrewd legislative gambit to illustrate that this was absurd.”
This is what Cruz was doing with the Gang of Eight bill upon which Rubio bases his entire “Cruz wants legalization” argument.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) said:
“My sense is Cruz’s amendment was clearly intended as a poison pill for the Democrats. It was a legislative tactic…You often introduce measures you hope will be poison pills if you’re trying to kill a piece of legislation. Now, it didn’t work in the end but it was a perfectly plausible attempt. I might’ve voted for it myself it I was in the Senate, to try and kill the bill.”
“Cruz went on to vote against the overall bill, while Rubio voted for it.”
In August, Cruz told Fox News that speaking of legalization at all is “a distraction from how we actually solve the problem.”
Cruz has put out a detailed immigration plan on his website, including a reform plan for H-1B visas that he devised with Senator Jeff Sessions. Cruz recently said that as more cases emerged showcasing the abuses of the H-1B visa system, he decided to work with Sessions to reform it.
Even the left-wing PolitiFact rated Rubio’s comments about Cruz supporting “legalization” as “false.”
Andrew C. McCarthy adds:
“Senator Cruz, who was a vigorous opponent of the Gang of Eight bill, proposed an amendment that would have stripped the possibility of a path to citizenship from the grant of legal status. The point of the proposal was not to grant a form of legal status to the illegal aliens–they were already to be granted legal status by the Rubio-Schumer legislation.
Cruz’s objective was to illustrate the fraudulence of the ‘out of the shadows’ blather. Obviously, if the Gang of Eight had been sincere, a grant of limited legal status would have accomplished their purported humanitarian objective. But Cruz knew the Left would bitterly object, revealing that the true ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ agenda was to mint new Democratic voters.”
All it takes is a step back to see that Cruz is not a proponent of amnesty. Rubio surely knows this, but uses it against Cruz regardless. This upsets me. And it should upset all Rubio supporters. It’s intellectually dishonest on Rubio’s part.
There’s no way to wrap this up in a nice bow, but I’ll do my best.
Cruz has never supported amnesty; it was a poison pill amendment. That much is clear to most individuals. Rubio, however, did support amnesty. He continues to support legalization–as he mentioned in Tuesday’s debate.
Rubio is employing an obviously disingenuous attack on Cruz. Why? I can’t know for sure, but it’s a primary, and he probably wants the nomination.
It is not hypocritical to admire Ronald Reagan for all his triumphs while simultaneously disagreeing with him on one or more issues. To take such a position is intellectually dishonest. The only reason to engage in such a maneuver is to protect a candidate whose record is flawed.
I respect Marco Rubio in some ways. As I mentioned above, I am not blindly devoted to Cruz; he has simply demonstrated that he is the most consistent conservative candidate, and the one best suited to defeat Hillary in November.
That said, should someone like Rand Paul win the nomination, I’ll be happy to vote for him. Most of the candidates on the debate stage Tuesday are infinitely better than any Democrat–and that includes Rubio, Fiorina, Paul, and even Chris Christie.
But I’m a fanboy, so I guess this whole piece can be disregarded. *Liz Lemon eye roll*