Why Marco Rubio isn’t ‘the Wes Clark of 2013’

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Over at TPM, Josh Marshall writes: “Let’s just say it: Marco Rubio is the Wes Clark of 2013. Only with many fewer accomplishments.”

Marshall, I suppose, thinks Hispanic Republicans (who happen to like hip-hop) are about as rare as Democratic generals. And because (presumably, in Marshall’s estimation) Rubio’s attractiveness is based solely on identity politics, his campaign will quickly fall apart — just like Clark’s did.

Like Clark, Rubio has enjoyed a lot of early buzz surrounding a possible presidential run.

But that’s where the similarities fall apart.

… Where to begin?

General Clark entered the race very late — in September of 2003. There were already nine Democrats running by the time he got in. (Conversely, if Rubio indeed runs, he will have *essentially* been running for four years.)

Before 2003, Clark had never before sought any elected office. Rubio, on the other hand, is a sitting U.S. senator — and previously served as Speaker of the House in Florida.

To win his seat, Rubio endured a bruising primary against a sitting governor. Clark had a distinguished academic and military career — but that doesn’t necessarily translate to political sagacity.

Though Clark was a highly-decorated officer, he was also a political novice. And so, he made rookie mistakes. Rather than drawing a stark contrast with Bush, he said he might have voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

He also made weird comments about space travel.

Marshall is right about one thing: Clark’s candidacy was based solely on Democrats’ desire to outflank Bush by running a general against him (and he even botched that with his Iraq war comments). Nominating Clark would have presumably prevented Republicans from portraying Democrats as doves. That was essentially his entire appeal. As far as I know, Clark didn’t have a weltanschauung.

Rubio, conversely, has been an outspoken advocate on a variety of issues, including the right to life, ending human trafficking, and comprehensive immigration reform.

There are other differences: Clark was running to oust an incumbent president, while Rubio would be running for an open seat. Clark was 58; Rubio is just 41…

Look, I get that we all need content. But this has to be one of the most tortured analogies I’ve read.

Matt K. Lewis