William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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NOT SMART – AT 8:29 A.M. ET:  As readers know, we are great fans of Marco Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida and contender for the 2016 presidential nomination.  He is bright, dynamic, correct on the issues, and a vote getter.

We were therefore disappointed by a political blunder that Rubio committed in a magazine interview.  His first blunder apparently was to let his guard down with a reporter.  First rule of Republican politics:  The press is not on your side, no matter how many smiles you get.   John McCain learned that the hard way.

Second lesson:  Learn from the goofballs who cost us two Senate seats this year, in Missouri and Indiana.  STAY AWAY FROM RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHY.  From The Hill:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) says he's not certain whether the planet was created by God in seven days or in "seven actual eras" — telling GQ magazine it's up to parents to teach their children either a faith-based history of Earth or a scientific one.

In a wide-ranging interview with the men's publication, Rubio refused to be pinned down about his personal views on the Earth's creation, calling it "one of the great mysteries" of life.

"I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States," Rubio told GQ when asked how old he thinks the Earth is.

COMMENT:  Now it may seem that Marco's comment is perfectly reasonable, and on first reading it is.  But the Democratic destruction machine is already at work, trying to ruin Rubio before he's out of the gate, and you know what they'll do with that first paragraph.  "Anti-science."  "Religious nut."  "Pandering to the Tea Party, anti-woman crowd."

You can just hear Debbie Wasserman Shultz saying that Rubio is in favor of kids being taught by their parents "wacky theories that begin with creationism and end with destroying women's reproductive rights."  That is the way the game is played.  Just look at the last campaign and what they did to Mitt Romney.

The idea is to avoid all discussion of religion.  Just avoid it, and begin avoiding it right now.  I recently heard a speech by Senator Tom Coburn of Okahoma, a conservative's conservative, a medical doctor, and a firm believer in the pro-life cause.  But even Senator Coburn said, on the subject of abortion, that the answer would be found in the human heart, not in political decisions, and he was right. 

Jack Kennedy, when he was asked in 1960 whether his Catholicism would get in the way of his responsibilities as president, said that while he personally held to his faith, that would never influence his decisions, made on behalf of the whole nation, as chief executive.  That was also right.

I recall the late Terence Cardinal Cooke of New York being asked whether he believed in the Virgin Birth.  He answered, very simply, that it was a story of faith.  That, too, was right. 

The press will try to trap Rubio, and other Republicans, by drawing them into discussions of religion, a standard never applied to liberals.  Avoid the trap, Marco.  Simply say that you respect religious faith, but that it is not part of your political agenda.  And shut down the subject.

November 20, 2012