You know how it is: A prominent civil rights movement leader-turned-congressperson—one you happen to be on the opposite side of the political divide from—dies, and now it’s time to do the “dignified statesperson” thing by sticking a picture of the two of you engaging in some good, old-fashioned bipartisan conversation on social media. It’s a quick, cheap, hideously transparent way to score a few “dignity of the office” points, and all you have to do to pull it off is not do something enormously boneheaded in the process—like, say, accidentally tweeting out a picture of yourself with a different Black civil rights advocate-turned-congressperson, instead of the one who just died.
Such was the manhole toppled down by Florida’s Marco Rubio today, after he decided to pay tribute to Georgia rep. and civil rights hero John Lewis—who died yesterday, at the age of 80—by tweeting out a picture of himself with Maryland’s Elijah Cummings, who died back in 2019. To be fair to Rubio’s team (if that’s something you feel especially inclined toward being), they did manage to delete the picture pretty quickly—just not at “too fast for the internet to screenshot and mock aggressively” speed.
And honestly: It’s not like Rubio’s obvious dumbassery was any less offensive than seeing guys like Mitch McConnell—who’s spent his whole career pushing back against the causes Lewis fought and bled for—trying to come across like they were such great and respected colleagues. At least Rubio’s fuck-up had a certain integrity of idiocy about it, the kind that other, more mealy-mouthed attempts at playing the “We fight, but we respect each other” game so obviously and irritatingly lack.