This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Sometimes it seems like you just can't win.
For example, on one hand, Republicans criticize President Barack Obama for not being more specific about the spending he would reduce to avoid sequestration, across-the-board budget cuts. On the other hand, they criticize him for being too specific about what he wants immigration reform to look like.
Last week's most vocal critic on immigration was Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has joined a group of eight Republican and Democratic senators working on reform legislation. But Rubio's harsh words for Obama's ideas seem more about him recapturing his footing among conservatives who oppose reform.
A Miami Herald analysis of Obama's proposals, which were leaked to that newspaper and other media outlets, showed little contrast to what Rubio has said he would support including a pathway to citizenship for currently undocumented residents and beefed-up border security.
But their similar positions didn't stop Rubio from declaring that if Obama's proposals are ever presented as legislation, they would be "dead on arrival," adding that the president's ideas "would actually make our immigration problems worse."
The response was disappointing. Perhaps Rubio, who may be a 2016 presidential candidate, felt he had to appease reform skeptics, who had considered him one of them. After all, only three years ago, Rubio was saying there shouldn't be a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
His change in position was apparently part of the Republican Party's acknowledgment that it can't be successful in national elections without more support from Hispanic voters. So Rubio's criticism looks like he is trying to have his cake and eat it, too, by supporting reform while criticizing anything Obama proposes.
That's fine, if in the end there is real reform, but it's a hell of a way to get things done. Americans keep saying they're tired of the partisan games that prevent their elected officials from saying what they mean and supporting what is right, no matter who proposes it. But the politicians still haven't gotten that message.
Indeed, what was the point of "unofficially" leaking Obama's immigration plan? Was the White House surreptitiously trying to give Rubio some ammo to help him maintain ties with conservative lawmakers whose votes will be needed to pass reform?
The administration said its proposals won't be offered unless the senators can't agree on legislation. But the fact that Rubio's ideas and Obama's are so similar suggests agreement can be reached, if partisan politics can be kept at bay.