I usually don't make so public a request, but my Christmas wish is for Florida's junior senator. Marco Rubio had a bad year politically, and he could use some help if he wants to do better in the future.
2013 began with a lot of promise. Rubio was a fresh face, a presidential contender and that great Hispanic hope for a political party that's still perceived to be a bit too affluent, white, Protestant male to win back the White House.
Then came Rubio's memorable Republican response to the president's State of the Union address. You remember? The one where the parched senator did that awkward on-camera reach for water and became the butt of jokes from late-night comedians and daytime pundits.
Things sort of went downhill from there.
The bit with immigration reform didn't go all that well either. Rubio started out looking like a man who had found his issue and a lawmaker actually working across party lines to find a fix. The senator was right there, holding his liberal counterparts' feet to the fire. And for what?
When the Senate finally passed immigration reform, the far-right fringe castigated Rubio, even as he gamely made the conservative media rounds to explain the merits of the bill and, more importantly, defending his own bonafides to his increasingly disillusioned base of tea-party supporters.
Had you not been such a seasonal worker, Santa, you might have saved Rubio from himself. But, no. He read the tea leaves and caved. Instead of showing leadership — and some spine — in seeing the issue through, he turned tail.
Rubio tried to put immigration reform behind him and win back the affections of the right. Unfortunately, for him, there was a new suitor in town.
Ted Cruz is another fresh-face, junior senator from that other big, Republican-dominated state, Texas. He's a brash ideologue, a Canadian of Mexican descent and a graduate of the same law school that produced President Obama. But, Cruz was willing to shut down the federal government and kill the economic recovery to rid us of Obamacare, and that was good enough for the true believers.
Santa, it was kind of sad to see Rubio running behind Cruz and fellow fringe-favorites, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Utah's Mike Lee, a foursome who led the government shutdown charge in the Senate. After the dust settled and GOP approval ratings tanked, Rubio found himself backpedalling – again.
"I was never in favor of shutting down the government or of defunding the government. I was in favor of voting to fund the government fully," he said during an October appearance on Fox News Sunday.
We now hear Rubio signed up for Obamacare on one of those marketplace websites. Truth is, he was legally bound to obtain individual health coverage, but that technicality and the fact that he got a $10,000 subsidy in the process, doesn't look good for a guy who believes the program is a "disaster."
Rubio was also quick to criticize the two-year budget deal between Pat Murray, a Democrat who heads the Senate budget panel, and Paul Ryan, the former Republican vice presidential candidate and chair of the House Budget Committee, even though the measure was hailed as a compromise.
Rubio initially ripped it. When asked to respond, Ryan tore into Rubio.
"Read the deal and get back to me," he said last week on MSNBC's Morning Joe program. "People are going to do what they need to do. In the minority, you don't have the burden of governing, of getting things done. We are in the majority here in the House."
The Florida senator's name doesn't come up as quickly now when talk turns to the GOP presidential nomination. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the new flavor of the month, and the headline of a recent Huffington Post story sums it up: "Can Chris Christie avoid becoming the next Marco Rubio?"
So Santa. Help a brother out. Give Rubio a break.
He will need it, particularly in 2016, if he hopes to keep his seat in the Senate.
A Concerned Columnist