Sunday, October 23, 2011

You Can't Expect Logic From Propagandists

Angrily responding to a tempest in a teapot over the date his parents emigrated from Cuba, per Jennifer Rubin, Mark Rubio presents what to me seems to be an evasive prevarication:
The dates I have given regarding my family’s history have always been based on my parents’ recollections of events that occurred over 55 years ago and which were relayed to me by them more than two decades after they happened. I was not made aware of the exact dates until very recently.
Forgive me, but I just can't see how the subject of whether Rubio's parents left Cuba before or after the revolution never came up. I have met lots of exiles from post-revolutionary nations, including Vietnam, Chile and Iran, and when they haven't made clear that they departed before or after the revolution, it has not been difficult to figure out. In claiming that his story is based on "my parents’ recollections of events that occurred over 55 years ago", is Rubio suggesting that his parents simply forgot that they left Cuba before the revolution? That wouldn't be credible. But if age and memory aren't at issue, what is the purpose of that statement other than as a smokescreen? Similarly, his claim that "I was not made aware of the exact dates", is reminiscent of "I never broke the drug laws of the United States." The issue has never been whether Rubio knew exact dates, but whether Rubio knew the general story well enough to know that he was deliberately misleading people when he suggested that his parents fled Cuba after Castro took power.

Rubio's defense continues in a manner that suggests that he knew the actual facts, but chose to dance around them in order to confuse his audience:
What’s important is that the essential facts of my family’s story are completely accurate. My parents are from Cuba. After arriving in the United States, they had always hoped to one day return to Cuba if things improved and traveled there several times.....

They were exiled from the home country they tried to return to because they did not want to live under communism. That is an undisputed fact and to suggest otherwise is outrageous.
In other words, Rubio follows up an initial dubious denial that he was being deliberately misleading by suggesting that it wouldn't matter if he was being deliberately deceptive because the "essential facts" are the same - Castro's revolution occurred and to return would mean living under communism.

Rubio is implicitly admitting that he misled audiences about when his parents left Cuba. He is suggesting that he did not intentionally represent that his parents fled after the revolution but instead made assumptions based upon a few conversations and a lack of knowledge of "exact dates", and that even now that he knows the actual dates they don't matter because the larger story is not changed. Perhaps out of recognition of how thin that defense is, Rubin tries to magic up the additional defense that "Rubio has previously stated that his parents left before Castro’s rise". To do that she points to an editorial that argues that Rubio never explicitly stated that his parents fled Cuba after the revolution. That editorial minces and parses Rubio's words to demonstrate how, despite what any person listening to him might think he's saying, he never actually stated "that his parents fled Cuba".
To back up the lead, the Washington Post excerpts from a 2006 address in the Florida House where Rubio said, “In January of 1959 a thug named Fidel Castro took power in Cuba and countless Cubans were forced to flee. . . . Today your children and grandchildren are the secretary of commerce of the United States and multiple members of Congress . . . and soon, even speaker of the Florida House.”

The catch: If you listen to the speech, Rubio isn’t just talking about those who specifically fled Cuba after Castro took power. He doesn’t say that his parents fled Cuba. Instead, he was talking about “a community of exiles.” That is: He was talking about all the Cubans who live in Miami. . . .
In other words, Rubin cites an editorial in which Rubio is quoted as giving a highly misleading statement that does everything but make clear when his parents fled Cuba, and is pretending that Rubio therefore disclosed that his parents left before the revolution. Incredible....

The editorial Rubin finds so persuasive argues,
In one interview, he said "my parents and grandparents came here from Cuba in '58, '59." In another interview, he said his parents came over in 1959. He wasn't asked if it was before or after the revolution. Fox Business host David Asman just presumed "they were exiles from Fidel Castro's Cuba after he took over."

Rubio didn't correct him.

So, to a degree, Rubio could be guilty of failing to correct something in the news media that inured to his gain (he and his people are quick to to criticize inaccuracies they don't like almost the second they hit the internet).
Well, yeah, that's kind if the heart of the matter, isn't it? Rubio has a long history of making misleading statements about his family background that lead his audience into drawing erroneous inferences, but has never, ever complained to a reporter after-the-fact that they needed to correct their story. The editorial claims that Rubio has recently (as in, within the past month) started to give an honest answer to the direct question of whether his parents came to the U.S. before or after the revolution, but as the Washington Post pointed out,
Rubio — now considered a prospective 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate and a possible future presidential contender — mentions his parents in the second sentence of the official biography on his Senate Web site. It says that Mario and Oriales Rubio “came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover.”
Let me guess.... Somebody else wrote it, they didn't check the facts with him, he never looks at his own online bios or Senate page, he didn't know what his website said? Seriously, if Rubio believed that he had a track record of truthful statements about his parents' emigration from Cuba, he would not be giving evasive, internally inconsistent "defenses" of his conduct, or making nebulous statements about "family lore,"
In a brief interview Thursday, Rubio said his accounts have been based on family lore. “I’m going off the oral history of my family,” he said. “All of these documents and passports are not things that I carried around with me.”
He would be pointing to his history of clear, truthful disclosures and asserting, "I was always clear on this, and have never misled a soul."

I would respect Rubio a lot more if, rather than hiding beind the skirts of useful idiots, he would simply man up: "At times I have made statements that were deliberately vague about when my parents left Cuba, because I felt that it would work to my political advantage if people assumed they emigrated from Castro's Cuba. Apparently my statements were more misleading that I thought, to the extent that somebody on my staff made a mistake in my official Senate biography, and I am sorry for that. This subject is close to the hearts of a lot of Americans, and I should never have danced around the facts."

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