As I've noted before, while a bipartisan "Gang" of eight senators are the prime movers behind the renewed hopes for passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, every play they run, in terms of persuading skeptics, goes through Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Rubio is, essentially, the public face of the bill, and he's been consistently given the task of bringing the work of the Octogäng into various and sundry right-wing lions' dens, in the hope that he can use his stature and political capital to gain buy-in from critics.
You really can't deny that Rubio has put in the time and the effort. As the Octogäng's bill comes closer and closer to a Senate debate, defending it from nativist skeptics has basically become his full-time job. But is the persuasion working? Based on the cover of the upcoming print edition of the National Review, I daresay it's not.
Quite a reversal for the National Review, which once depicted Rubio on the cover of the magazine as one of the figures lighting the way for the GOP's future. (Fun fact: As McKay Coppins points out, the image the National Review is using for its latest cover has been altered in such a way as to keep Grover Norquist from appearing.)
As noted pronunciation expert Mark Krikorian's name appears on the byline, you can expect the National Review's take to be pretty unsparing. Krikorian isn't simply opposed to providing undocumented immigrants with a "path to citizenship" -- he's essentially negatively predisposed to Latinos in general, seeing them as innately (and unrescuably) liberal. Back in November of 2012, Krikorian made this antipathy clear:
Steve Dinan at the Washington Times highlights the data on native-born Hispanics that point to their natural inclination to support the Left. The native-born, who account for the overwhelming majority of Hispanic voters, have higher rates of poverty, welfare use, single-parent families -- none of which is suggestive of openness to a message of small government and moral traditionalism.
That puts Krikorian at odds with the GOP establishment's "rebranding" effort, which involves the very Latino outreach effort that's renewed the drive for comprehensive immigration reform. (Krikorian also wrote that he's not contending that "Republicans can’t get a share of the Hispanic vote," but he describes the outreach effort as something that's based in "sugar plum dreams.")
As for Marco Rubio, Krikorian has vacillated between urging the promising, young Florida senator to come to his senses (that is, align himself with Krikorian's position) and excoriating him for attempting to bring about "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants.
On April 15, the day after Rubio mounted a modified full Ginsburg on the Sunday morning political programs to defend the immigration reform effort, Krikorian essentially wrote Rubio off:
There wasn’t any ambivalence in his performance; it seems certain he's going to stick with the amnesty bill expected out this week under almost any circumstances. He was not only aggressively making his case but, in addition to familiar talking points, he made a couple of new ones that were so obviously ridiculous that I can't see how he could possibly believe them. Unless he's an idiot, which I do not think to be the case, he's trying to fool voters, not persuade them.
First, a familiar talking point: the bill doesn't provide amnesty. For crisssake, of course it's amnesty! Stop lying!
Krikorian continued in this vein for many more paragraphs, assessing Rubio's position as "a parody" and "implausible" and "risible" and "ridiculous" and, later, "ridiculous" again. By the looks of things, Krikorian isn't done venting his spleen at Rubio by a damn sight, and the National Review is going to have Rubio back playing defense.
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