Don't Worry, Be Happy: Rubio-Kyl in 2012

More than 50% of National Review Online readers -- in an admittedly unscientific poll -- say they're depressed as they consider the GOP field.  A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll confirmed Republicans' dissatisfaction with the candidates announced or likely to announce.  A ticket of Marco Rubio and Jon Kyl would carry forty states.  So why be depressed?

Marco Rubio is the most amazing talent for conservatives since Ronald Reagan.

Why would we hesitate?  OK.  Reasonable people say he is so young (40) and still inexperienced.  Actually, his state record  -- a decade of solid achievement -- capped as it will be by two years of congressional service -- exactly replicates Lincoln's.

His two-year challenge of a popular sitting governor over ObamaCare and the failed stimulus was masterful.  No other conservative politician in the country ran an error-free campaign (except perhaps the illustrious Jim DeMint).

Rubio solves the GOP problem on immigration.  He stands strong for border security.  He is the embodiment of everything we say we believe about immigrants.  We want them to be legal, loyal, and laboring.  We want their kids to learn English.  All this and more, Marco Rubio's remarkable parents did.

If Barack Obama wins 67% of the Hispanic vote again in 2012, we lose.  It's that simple.  Marco Rubio can build the new conservative majority based on values.  Life and marriage, faith and family -- these are bridge issues, not wedge issues.

Canada's Conservative Stephen Harper took those issues to new Canadians -- his burgeoning immigrant communities -- and won big.  So can Marco Rubio.  He can build a new conservative majority.  Fully 30% of third-graders are Hispanic.  A President Rubio will assure that most of them identify with conservatives.  Remember, Hispanics have won more Congressional Medals of Honor than any other ethnic minority.  And Marco Rubio is more eloquent in Spanish than most Republican candidates are in English.

But, oh, how eloquent he is in English!  Jeb Bush says he's the only politician who can make grown men cry.  True, although Obama makes us weep.  Some of our brightest intellectual stars are telling us dull but competent is the ticket.  They're wrong.  Dull doesn't staff phone banks.  Dull doesn't walk precincts.  Dull doesn't bring excitement to the campuses.  If you want dull, nominate Dole.

So why Jon Kyl for Vice President?  We must respect the concerns of people who sincerely worry that Marco Rubio is not quite ready yet.  That's where Kyl comes in.  This tactic has worked before.  When Bill Clinton tapped Al Gore, Americans concluded that he would have adult supervision in the White House.  Clinton was never behind in the polls one day after choosing Gore.  Ditto Bush and Cheney.  When Quebec tricksters sent candidate Bush greetings from Canada's "President Poutine," Bush politely responded.  Aha, liberals hooted, he knows nothing about foreign policy!  Cheney cured that for Bush.  (And those cheeky Canadians would have been better off with Poutine than Chrétien, anyway.)

Jon Kyl could be the only man in history who has publicly said he was retiring unless chosen to be vice president.  Even TIME picked Kyl as one of the ten most effective senators.  He's the minority whip, which means he plays well with others.  Respected by all, he's a solid social, fiscal, and defense conservative, the Senate's fourth-most conservative.  He is the definition of gravitas.  (Why didn't we nominate him in '08?)

Drafting this ticket now avoids the hazards of a convention forced choice for vice president.  The liberal media has been gunning for GOP veep candidates since Nixon in '52.  They went after Agnew, because of his name (that was before we knew he was a crook).  They savaged Dan Quayle, who never recovered.  They turned Dick Cheney into Darth Vader and treated Sarah Palin like a ditzy prom queen.  

Some of our great minds are saying just double down on ideology, nominate a dull but competent candidate and -- given the country's sharp right turn last November -- coast to victory.  Yes we can.

No we can't.  Last November's turnout was a record high, but not by much.  And 42% is a far cry from Barack Obama's 62% turnout in 2008.  Next November's electorate will have millions of minority, female, and young voters returning.  These have been called "epochal" voters.  They believed they were doing something new and exciting in politics.

They were.  It is a tragedy that the man and moment never met.

Marco Rubio gives these epochal voters permission to leave Obama.  Notice how careful Sen. Rubio is to take the strongest stands against what Obama is doing, but never to personally tear down Barack Obama the man.  He eloquently says, "If there is only one voice to oppose this [radical] agenda, it will be my voice."

He never attacks President Obama in bitter and personal terms.  Ronald Reagan ran against Jimmy Carter during terrible economic times with the U.S. position collapsing around the world.  Reagan's sharpest criticism was this: "When your neighbor loses his job, it's a recession.  When you lose your job, it's a depression.  And when Jimmy Carter loses his job, it's recovery."  The crowds loved it.  No one was ever kinder or gentler.

Rubio would put California back in play.  He could create the wave effect we need if we are going to save the country.  Rubio-Kyl would bring together all factions of the Republican party.  Rubio-Kyl would set the grassroots on fire.  More important, after a sweeping victory, they can unite the country.

"Chet Arthur" is a nom de cyber for a former Reagan administration official.  For more on Marco Rubio, contact

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