It's easy to dismiss BuzzFeed as that website that exists solely because most Redditors don't realize they can sue someone for using their photograph without permission. But every once in a while, they knock out one of these long pieces about the tension between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio as both men prepare to run for president, and I'm suddenly filled with gratitude that BuzzFeed exists. Last night, McKay Coppins published a piece about the old-money crowd that runs at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami, and the power that manipulates politics behind the scenes:
To the national punditocracy, the question seems almost absurd. Of course Rubio, with his magazine covers, well-delivered hip-hop references, and youthful charisma, will beat out the old, fat, white guy who's been out of office for five years, and shares a last name with one of the most unpopular presidents in modern history.
But the Biltmore crowd isn't so sure. Spend some time chatting with the local politicos here, and you get the sense that Rubio is still viewed as the kid straining to fill out an oversized suit, not quite ready for the grownups table.
Late last December, the Tampa Bay Times polled a bipartisan group of the state's most "plugged-in political players," and, strikingly, most of them believed Bush would run, and Rubio would sit 2016 out. What's more, an overwhelming majority — 82 percent — said Bush would be a stronger candidate.
I know we're preparing for the first State of the Union of President Obama's second term tonight, and 2016 predictions are absolutely inane, but this piece really got my juices flowing. It would be a disaster for Rubio if he didn't run this time. Unless you are something really special—Ronald Reagan, say—you only get one shot at the presidency. The Clinton supporters urging Obama to wait his turn in 2008 knew that. The stars align for a very short time, and then you're all of a sudden an also-ran. I don't think Rubio has it in him to be a repeat candidate. If Bush convinces him to not run in 2016, he'll be stuck in the Senate forever.
If Bush and Rubio both decide to run, we're going to see a mentor attack his star apprentice. It's not going to be pretty. And I'm not sure Rubio can survive the kind of old-school shitstorm that could descend from the mainstream Republican Party. They like their orderly ascensions to power. But if Rubio manages to destroy Bush, he'd be the most formidable Republican presidential candidate since Reagan.