Liberal elites are so jumpy about the possibility that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) might be the successful champion of immigration reform that they seem more devoted to questioning his motives and trying to come up with ways to wreck the process (e.g. opposition to border security) than in conceding the remarkable shift on the GOP side of the ledger.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Now they accuse Rubio of “slow-walking” immigration reform or looking for an “off ramp” This is poppycock. No one has more to gain by a successful immigration reform push and by delivering a decisive section of Republican lawmakers than he.

In fact, he is listening to his own colleagues and trying to head off the debacle of Obamacare, in which a massive bill of unknown content was rushed through and conservatives legitimately complained about an opaque process.

Rubio is trying to disabuse his critics of the idea he’s out to bog down the process. Roll Call reports:

Rubio advisers made clear that he views a lengthy, traditional process that includes hearings, a healthy committee markup and an open floor debate during which senators can offer amendments as key to his ability to build and maintain conservative support for a comprehensive immigration rewrite. Rubio does not have a specific timetable in mind. But anything viewed as “rushed” would violate promises he made to grass-roots conservatives and could cost his support, even if he is OK with the bill in principle.

Rubio and his staff understand all too well how easy it is for immigration fear-mongers to round up opposition. (“Rubio spokesman Alex Conant told CQ Roll Call on Monday. ‘We need to get buy-in from [everyone.] We want people to understand what’s in the bill and what’s not in the bill.'”)

So who should immigration reform proponents trust — the president who has never gotten a single major piece of bipartisan legislation through the Congress or the Florida senator who at great personal risk has gone into the belly of the anti-immigration beast (e.g. talk radio) to push for comprehensive reform? I suppose the answer depends on whether you really want a deal, or just a failed process to use against the GOP.