Opinion

The New York Times discovers Marco Rubio is a human from Earth

Guess who has two legs, a torso, and a bit of debt?

In one of the most memorable Simpsons episodes, the two major presidential candidates, Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, are swapped out with world-invading, shape-shifting aliens, Kang and Kodos. The joke, of course, is that politicians are so far removed from us that they may as well be space aliens.

That's just the way things are. But in the 2016 cycle, there just might be a politician who is something resembling a human being. And The New York Times is determined — determined! — to get to the bottom of it.

In the past few days, the Times has produced two fairly bizarre stories about Florida Senator Marco Rubio, ones that reverberated throughout the media — including on this site.

The first seemed to accuse him of reckless driving, and the other one of reckless financial management. But all they did was show that Marco Rubio — unlike other politicians, it is true — seems like a human being and not a space alien.

Let's start with the driving stuff. Rubio has had four tickets over 20 years. Which sounds fairly human and pedestrian to me. (Especially when it comes to Florida, I've been told.) Since this was scarcely news, the Times decided to pair Rubio's tickets with his wife's. Together, they got 17. It is true that this is a bigger number than four. (One of Mrs. Rubio's tickets was for driving over 20 mph in a 15 mph zone.) To which one feels compelled to ask the Times: Do they really want to set a precedent that presidential spouses' foibles are fair game for the media? Is that the best way to favor the Democrats this cycle?

Because that's where the contrast lies. Hillary Clinton doesn't have tickets because she hasn't driven a car since 1996, and her spouse's foibles include using a charitable organization to peddle influence and share private jets with convicted pedophiles.

The whole episode is, frankly, ridiculous. It is fitting that it has helped Rubio raise money from online supporters, and that it was celebrated with the deliciously ironic hashtag #RubioCrimeSpree ("11 items in the '10 items or less' line").

The financial mismanagement stuff, on the surface, seems more interesting. Rubio, whose parents aren't well off, took out a mountain of student loans to go through college and law school, and subsequently threw himself into politics, a not-so-lucrative career. He bought a few houses for his family with no money down (ah, Florida in the mid-aughts). He hasn't saved money. His financial situation only seems to have rectified with two fat book advances he earned after he became a media darling. But when he got his book advance, he paid down a lot of debt, yes, but he also bought a "luxury speedboat," the Times sneered.

And then it came out that the "luxury speedboat" is actually a pretty regular-looking fishing boat, one so small that it actually fits in Hillary Clinton's swimming pool.

It is true that some parts of Rubio's financial history do call his judgement into question, like taking out an additional home equity line of credit to pay for renovations at the top of the housing bubble. But this element only highlights what the rest of the story screams: That Rubio's financial history is like that of most Americans, and so very human.

I am, frankly, one not fit to throw stones over financial mismanagement. Not saving enough, buying a house too large, occasionally splurging on a guilty pleasure — these are all things that we do, in one form or another, at some point or another. By the way, did I mention Bill Clinton gets $500,000 a speech and the Clinton Foundation took money from companies and countries with business before Hillary's State Department?

Which raises the question of why we're seeing these stories from the country's (liberal) paper of record. Maybe it's because Rubio is young, smart, charismatic, Latino, and understands the GOP's problem with the middle class and minorities. And so he scares the left.

Instead, they really want you to vote for Kodos.

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