Politics

Rubio Refuses to Use Chelsea Manning's First Name While Condemning Clemency

Marco Rubio condemned Chelsea Manning's release but wouldn't use her first name.
Marco Rubio condemned Chelsea Manning's release but wouldn't use her first name. photos: Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC/via U.S. Army
click to enlarge Marco Rubio condemned Chelsea Manning's release but wouldn't use her first name. - PHOTOS: GAGE SKIDMORE VIA FLICKR CC/VIA U.S. ARMY
Marco Rubio condemned Chelsea Manning's release but wouldn't use her first name.
photos: Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC/via U.S. Army
Some New Times readers might be too young to remember when Marco Rubio had committed himself to life as a private citizen. It was way back in May 2016, fresh off a bare-bottom thrashing from Donald Trump, when Rubio reiterated for the "10,000th time" that he wouldn't run again for Senate.

But then came the Pulse nightclub massacre, which awakened something in the anti-LGBT rights, anti-gun-control conservative. Suddenly, Rubio was giving interviews to the Advocate, gushing about how "deeply touched" he was — so touched, in fact, that he had to run for Senate again.

Well, whatever LGBT sympathy the murder of 49 innocent clubgoers awakened has apparently gone the way of Rubio's private-sector ambitions. He has already spoken to a rabidly anti-gay Christian group.

Now Rubio has thrown deep shade at Chelsea Manning, the transgender former Army private and WikiLeaks leaker whom President Obama pardoned yesterday. See if you can notice what's off about Rubio's statement condemning Obama's move:


click to enlarge VIA SEN. MARCO RUBIO
via Sen. Marco Rubio
Yep, in an 142-word news release that mentions Manning no less than five times, Rubio never once refers to Chelsea, her post-transition first name.

New Times asked Rubio's spokesperson if that omission was on purpose, but we haven't heard back. It's hard to believe the wording was an accident, though.

Manning's case is a trifecta of outrages for the GOP base, and dog-whistling at her postarrest transition is a sly way for Rubio to hint that it's OK to be outraged at not only Manning's crime or Obama's clemency but also her gender status.

(H/T to Marc Caputo)
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink