It has become a sad fact of life that it is never too soon to use tragic events for political reasons, but even within that ghoulish game, there are rules. Sure, you might expect the douchiest of politicians to make political hay at a press conference, or on some cable news segment, but official government statements following a tragic event like yesterday’s attacks on Canada’s Parliament and War Memorial tend to hew closely to the formula that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) used: our thoughts and prayers are with you, we stand with you, we are not afraid, the end.
Or, if you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything. Lots of senators didn’t put out any statement at all, even presidential hopefuls like Rand Paul (R-Ky.). By rights, you really only expect this sort of statement from the highest levels of government, anyway.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) didn’t have to say anything, but he did anyway. Here’s his official statement, released this morning (via email, emphasis mine):
RUBIO COMMENTS ON ATTACKS IN CANADA
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement today regarding the recent attacks in Canada:
“Our neighbors to the north have a long history of standing by America in good times and bad. Canada has been by America’s side in our struggle against violent jihadists. Since 9/11, Canadian servicemen and women have shed blood in the fight against Islamic extremism, and we stand with them during this difficult period and pledge our unwavering support as we join them in mourning the fallen.
“The attacks of recent days in Canada as well as the horrible attack on pedestrians, including Americans, on a Jerusalem street yesterday are yet another painful reminder that declaring wars to be over does not end them. Radical jihadists remain committed to waging war against anyone who does not share their warped ideology, which is why we must defeat them wherever they reside and work to reduce the risk of self-radicalization of individuals in our societies.”
In case that wasn’t a clear enough attack for you, Rubio was referring to President Obama’s 2013 speech on terrorism at the National Defense University, at which the president obviously said that terrorism was over, and that nobody would ever attack anybody again. Or something like that:
Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless “global war on terror,” but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.
It is completely beside the point that Rubio’s interpretation of the president’s remark is without merit. An official government statement on a fresh tragedy is not the forum to debate the merits of a speech your opponent gave last year.
Given his status as a fourth-tier 2016 presidential contender, it’s no wonder that Rubio stoops to desperately politicize everything he can, but just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean that you should.