It’s far too early to pick a front-runner for the Republican nomination, but we already have a pretty good idea which candidate is doing the best job of scaring both the media and the Democratic establishment (but we repeat ourselves).
In the span of a week, Marco Rubio was the focus of not one but two hit pieces by the New York Times. The first was headlined “Marco Rubio and His Wife Cited 17 Times for Traffic Infractions.” Of course, that headline was misleading in the extreme. The article actually reveals that Marco Rubio has received 4 traffic tickets going back to 1997, and his wife has received 13. In other words, Mrs. Rubio has a lead foot, and the Times decided that the only way they could get away with a petty attack on a candidate’s wife is if they combined their driving records. (Some of the citations, by the way, tell you more about money-hungry local municipalities than about either of the Rubios: for instance: “driving 23 m.p.h. in a school zone where the speed limit was 15 m.p.h.”)
The typical employee in the New York Times’s Manhattan newsroom, The Scrapbook is guessing, may not know much about the struggles of America’s drivers. The fact that Rubio has four traffic tickets over 18 years is probably pretty close to the record of the everyday commuter and will, if anything, make him a bit more sympathetic. Further, Rubio’s F-150 is not an SUV as the Times initially blundered. Sure, it’s been one of the bestselling vehicles in America for over 33 years, but since they don’t drive many pickup trucks in Manhattan, the reporters managed to botch this detail.
As for his wife’s driving record, well, we’re not voting for her, and at least she drives herself. Last year, Hillary Clinton revealed she hadn’t been behind the wheel since 1996. Comparatively speaking, the only way Hillary could be further out of touch would be if she eschewed her chauffeured Town Cars and asked to be carried around on a litter by menial servants. Last, is spousal conduct fair game for campaign attacks? Because Rubio should seize on this new standard and run with it. At the Federalist, Mollie Hemingway quipped that, according to the New York Times’s logic, it would be reasonable to assert in a headline that “Hil-lary Clinton and her husband had sexually assaulted numerous women.”
As if the actual premise of the hit piece weren’t embarrassing enough, within an hour of the Times’s report being published, the Washington Free Beacon reported that, according to public documents, the Rubios’ driving records had been inspected only a few days before by the pro-Clinton liberal -opposition research firm American Bridge. Rather than answer the Free Beacon’s questions about whether the paper was in a silent partnership with the liberal oppo group, the Times told Politico that its reporters had independently-but-contemporaneously discovered the story of the Rubios’ tickets. This is hard to believe, but then again, so is much of what the Times writes about Republicans.
Just four days after Times reporters summited this molehill, the paper pounced again with “Marco Rubio’s Career Bedeviled by Financial Struggles.” The shocking revelation in the second story is that Rubio struggled financially in his 20s and 30s and shouldered a lot of debt. After finally being given an $800,000 advance to write a memoir about being raised by Cuban immigrants, Rubio “splurged on an extravagant purchase: $80,000 for a luxury speedboat.” The Times quotes financial adviser Harold Evensky as saying Rubio “was living -financially dangerously.” Rubio also accrued debt via a $135,000 home -equity line “from a politically connected Miami-based bank.”
Upon further review, Rubio’s “luxury speedboat” turned out to be a fishing boat, modest by Miami standards, and the $80,000 price tag seems like small beans relative to his $800,000 advance. The Free Beacon again tormented the Times by revealing that Evensky, the Times’s expert critic of Rubio’s household budget, was also an Obama donor. As for Rubio’s “politically connected” home equity lender, this seems incredibly benign relative to Barack Obama’s paying for his Chicago home with a financial assist from jail-bound developer Tony Rezko. And both pale in comparison to Hillary Clinton’s enriching herself with millions from a who’s who of international human rights violators and shady oligarchs.
If the 2016 election is contested on the playing field chosen by the New York Times—spousal conduct and personal finances—it should be a very good year for Republicans.