Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) made news Tuesday when he managed to get conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on board the immigration reform express, but buried in that interview was an apparent admission, by Limbaugh, that until their recent change of heart on immigration, Republicans actually were racist. That widely-held perception was borne out on Election Day, when Republicans lost the Hispanic vote by record numbers, which many believe led Republicans to their current “Come to Jesus” (or as Rush might say, “Come to Hey-Zeuss“) moment on immigration reform. What’s surprising is that Rush Limbaugh would inadvertently confirm that perception while trying to push back against President Obama.
The big news this week is the suddenly bipartisan push for an immigration reform plan that President Obama has been advocating for years, but which Republicans only joined after a demographic spanking in November’s elections. In addition to their offensive policies, Republicans suffered from a relentless stream of offensive comments from everyone up to, and including, their presidential nominee*. They also lost with women, black people, young people, pretty much anyone who doesn’t watch Hannity, but they have to start somewhere, and immigration is it.
Sen. Marco Rubio appeared on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show to pitch the GOP’s attempt to put that all behind them, and during that interview, Rush boldly gave the Republican Party’s anti-immigrant recent past a name. “My concern is the President wants to change the reality,” Limbaugh said. “My concern is the President wants people to believe something that isn’t true is, and that is that you guys are not being truthful of what you say, that you really don’t want an improved life for Hispanics, that you really are still racist.”
He didn’t say “that you really are racist,” he said “that you really are still racist,” which, in Limbaugh’s formulation, means that the “reality” is that Republicans aren’t still racist, but they were up until now. Don’t get mad at me, I didn’t say it. I don’t think GOP support for immigration reform makes them any more or less racist than they were before, it just makes them slightly more rational and pragmatic.
Also missed in this interview was Sen. Rubio’s swallowing of Limbaugh’s anti-PC goading. It has been widely reported that Republicans have been advised, repeatedly, to change the language they use about immigration, specifically terms like “illegals,” or “aliens,” or “anchor babies,” but in his interview with Sen. Rubio, Limbaugh pointedly ignored those admonitions. He asked Rubio, “Who are you trying to reach with” the bill, adding, “You talking Hispanics, illegals, are you talking the American people, who are you talking to?”
Sen. Rubio just let it slide, which isn’t surprising, given that he had already agreed to appear on a show with a guy whose idea of humor is this. At least he didn’t make Rubio sing along.
Here’s the relevant portion of the interview:
*The 2012 Republican nominee for president was a man named Mitt Romney.
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