The New York Times editorial board is doing something new this year. The opinion page has decided to endorse candidates in down-ballot races not just in the paper’s backyard but all over the nation. Just because this practice might be new for the paper does not mean its endorsement policy has changed. The board’s nod of support in the race for Florida Senate is especially telling. It is less a vote of confidence in Senator Marco Rubio’s Democratic challenger than it is an admission this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to end the young Republican senator’s career.
That assessment didn’t require a lot of deduction either. It’s right there in the headline: “A Chance to Unseat Marco Rubio.”
The editorial devotes most of its energy to noting that Florida’s Cuban constituency has changed. No longer is this Sunshine State voting block dogmatically conservative, either fiscally or socially. Moreover, because Rubio has failed to echo the liberal consensus on climate change, has been a “disengaged” legislator, and supports re-imposing an embargo on the Castro brothers’ open-air prison state, the Times has determined that he deserves to lose.
What Rubio has truly done to offend sensibilities in the Times’ view is refuse to withdraw his endorsement for Donald Trump. In a particularly insincere passage, the Grey Lady’s board contended that Republicans should root for Rubio’s defeat: “If the Republican Party wants to shore up its eroding base in Florida in the post-Trump era,” the Times editorial reads, “it will need fresh blood and forward-thinking politicians who are in step with voters on social issues and are willing to move past the Cold War.”
This piece doesn’t entirely miss its mark. Rubio’s decision to endorse Trump despite repeatedly calling him a “con man” who should not have access to America’s nuclear arsenal will not be soon forgotten. That decision lends credence to the claim of his opponent, Representative Patrick Murphy, that Rubio’s political ambitions extend beyond his U.S. Senate office. Surprise! That’s why he ran for President of the United States. Rubio is, indeed, standing by his endorsement because he believes that, in abandoning Trump, he would reduce his reelection chances—a reelection he pledged not to pursue during the primaries. That is ambition of an unlovely sort, but it is also a mark of prudence.
As for Rubio’s alleged Cold War mentality, the Times appear to be accusing the Florida Senator of possessing sound judgment. It wasn’t one month ago that the editorial board accused Vladimir Putin of running an “outlaw state” responsible for the series of events that resulted in the 2014 attack on a civilian airliner that killed nearly 300 people. The Times went on to note that Russia is complicit in and directly responsible for the conduct of war crimes against Syrian civilians, to say nothing of Moscow’s imposition of anti-democratic measures aimed at stifling dissent at home. Talk about a Cold War mentality.
The communist regime in Havana, too, is by no means the rehabilitated actor its liberal apologists in the United States would have the public believe. The bloodbath in Syria for which Russia is partly responsible is also the work of the Cuban government, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to Fox News reporters. Intelligence reports indicate that Cuban Special Forces and paramilitary are on the ground in Syria working with Russian regulars, training Assad’s forces, and operating Russian tanks. This would mark the most robust covert operation for Cuban forces since the Angolan Civil War, and illustrates the extent to which Russian-Cuban military and intelligence ties survived the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Last and most telling, the Times’ expression of concern for the electoral viability of the Republican Party should expose the paper’s true motives to discerning voters. Rubio’s unique appeal to demographics that made up Barack Obama’s winning coalition—single women, young, and minority voters—is a direct threat to Democratic dominance at the presidential level. Early 2016 polls of a hypothetical matchup between Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio confirmed his viability as a presidential candidate.
Rubio may never get the chance to test his mettle at the national level, and there is no question his reputation has been damaged among Republican voters after his failed 2016 bid. The notion, however, that his defeat would leave the GOP in a better position to win national elections is laughable on its face.
In revealing its preferences in the Florida Senate race, the New York Times editorial board has revealed not whom it supports but whom it fears.