Rubio’s Reagan Speech: Entitlements “Weakened” Us

August 24, 2011 1:30 p.m.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) seems to be the “right” man for the “right” time. Indeed, there’s now so much speculation that he’ll take the VP slot of next year’s GOP presidential ticket that one wag recently tweeted, “Is it time to rename GOP primaries ‘the contest to become Marco Rubio’s running mate’?”

The GOP heartthrob delivered a much-anticipated speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Wednesday. The address was packed with the red meat Tea Party audiences crave, and at its heart was the reddest meat of all: a “things-ain’t-what-they-used-to-be” take-down of entitlement programs.With a tone that suggested he spoke more in sorrow than in anger, Rubio said that though the creation of a welfare state “was well-intentioned, it was doomed to fail from the start.”

“These programs actually weakened us as a people. You see, almost forever, it was institutions in society that assumed the role of taking care of one another. If someone was sick in your family, you took care of them. If a neighbor met misfortune, you took care of them. You saved for your retirement and your future because you had to. We took these things upon ourselves in our communities, our families, and our homes, and our churches and our synagogues. But all that changed when the government began to assume those responsibilities.”

Of course, one might argue that the reason welfare programs were created — with great popular demand — was precisely because in all too many cases “communities,” “families,” and “churches” weren’t doing an adequate job. That hasn’t prevented paeans of praise from flooding in from the right. The influential blog site RedState was fairly typical, headlining their take, “Marco Rubio speaking at the Reagan Library. OH HECK YEAH.”

Perhaps both showing his own community-like compassion for the elderly, the Sunshine State Senator sent conservative hearts even more a-flutter by catching the 90 year-old Nancy Reagan as she stumbled on the way into the auditorium.

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