Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October 25, 2011: Rubio, Birthers and Dolphins Star in "Silly Season"

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Hurricane Rina may soon provide a serious distraction from South Florida's "Silly Season."

The season has been punctuated by the birther movement's aim at U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida - and a blunder Rubio committed - and the circus atmosphere surrounding the once-great Miami Dolphins.

-The racist dunderheads who make up the birther movement, having embarrassed themselves by going after President Barack Obama, are now going after seemingly any non-WASP politician with national ambitions. That includes Rubio, who has been on some Republican lists as a potential vice presidential candidate next year.

They claim that Rubio isn't a "natural born" citizen of the United States - even though he was born at Miami's Cedars of Lebanon hospital (now part of Jackson Health Systems) in 1972. Their ludicrous argument is that Rubio's parents didn't become United States citizens until after his birth.

-Rubio, by virtue of being (to quote Bruce Springsteen) "Born in the U.S.A.," is very much a natural-born citizen. But he didn't do himself any favors in misstating the time his parents left Cuba.

Leaving Fidel Castro's Cuba as a refugee has always triggered higher political stock than leaving Fulgencio Batista's Cuba as a refugee - which Rubio's parents did in 1956, three years before Castro came to power.

Until recently, Rubio's biography on his campaign material and Senate site suggested that his parents left Cuba after Castro came to power. It's possible that he wasn't listening when his parents mentioned the date they left. But anyone who grows up with parents who came from Cuba usually knows, at some point, the exact date their parents left the island.

Rubio can help himself by making it official and releasing his parents' immigration records.


It's hard to know what was more embarrassing about the Miami Dolphins on Sunday - the way they blew the game, or the way owner Stephen Ross showed up his head coach and his players.

The nod here goes to Ross. In two seasons as the Dolphins' owner, he still hasn't figured out how to recreate the formula that was perfected by legendary founding owner Joe Robbie. Robbie hired good front office people who recruited young college talent such as Bob Griese, Larry Csonka and so many others, and then capped it off by hiring the brilliant Don Shula as head coach. The result was magical, including a perfect 1972-73 season that has yet to be matched in the National Football League.

All Ross has done is stack the ownership boxes with celebrities (The only celebrity during the Robbie era was longtime friend Danny Thomas.), watch team VP Bill Parcells go without a by-your-leave and keep General Manager Jeff Ireland, who hasn't impressed with any player selections and hasn't given Coach Tony Sparano, who led the Dolphins to the playoffs in his first year (the second-to-last year of the Wayne Huizenga era) anything to work with.

Then, after conducting a public search for someone to replace Sparano and reluctantly sticking with him, Ross really stuck his head in it during Sunday's game with the supposed honoring of the 2008 Florida Gators - whose quarterback, Tim Tebow, now plays for the Dolphins' Sunday opponent, the Denver Broncos, and whose coach, Urban Meyer, just happened to be chatting with Ross on the sidelines.

Even Florida/Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who has made some boneheaded decisions, might not stoop that low.

A 1969 Sports Illustrated profile of Robbie - done before the Shula hiring and the glory years - shows some early mistakes on his part, but he certainly corrected them. Ross would benefit by taking a few moves from the Robbie playbook.

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