Unmasking the Real Marco Rubio
Like Bambi running through the woods and aimlessly caught in the headlights, Rubio was blatantly exposed as excruciatingly shallow and intellectually feeble, awkwardly unprepared and ill-suited for the most powerful job in the country — at least right now in the year 2016. When 2024 or 2028 comes around, perhaps he could fare better as a serious presidential candidate, provided he passes his potty training and sheds the political Pampers.
The collective ensemble of millions of jaws dropping in stunned unison all over the nation during last Saturday night’s Republican presidential candidates debate in New Hampshire was a political chorus line of show-stopping proportions. It was what some might call — a game changer. “Cringeworthy” is how one Republican observer best described it.
Marco Rubio’s atrocious onstage performance on the very night he appeared destined to become the latest edition of the Republican establishment’s favored son is sending shock waves right now through the Grand Old Party. Just days after last week’s Iowa Caucus and Rubio’s surprisingly strong (third-place) showing there, many party loyalists thought they’d finally found the perfect electable alternative to the bullying bluster of Donald Trump and the reactionary conservatism of Ted Cruz. Now, it’s back to the drawing board again. Team GOP appears to running out of third-string quarterbacks and there’s no one left on the bench.
In case you missed the debate, Rubio was crudely unmasked on the biggest stage of his political career, so far. Once the vision of the real Rubio came into better focus — that of a cleverly-crafted marionette stuffed with carefully-memorized talking points and punching bag catchphrases — beneath the thin veil wasn’t so much a neophyte states-man-in-waiting as an epic fiasco waiting to happen on a much bigger stage — like the general election or (heaven forbid) the Oval Office. Like Bambi running through the woods and aimlessly caught in the headlights, Rubio was blatantly exposed as excruciatingly shallow and intellectually feeble, awkwardly unprepared and ill-suited for the most powerful job in the country — at least right now in the year 2016. When 2024 or 2028 comes around, perhaps he could fare better as a serious presidential candidate, provided he passes his potty training and sheds the political Pampers.
Indeed, witnessing Rubio’s pull-a-string-and-talking-doll performance left many disappointed and others horrified. Political insiders of both parties were near unanimous in panning Rubio’s not-yet-ready-for prime time showing when confronted during the opening minutes of the two-hour debate with his own legislative record. “Marco Rubio Crashed and Burned” was how Politico put it. “Rubio Chokes” was another devastating headline. “Beatdown” screamed yet another. Even some New Hampshire GOP insiders called Rubio’s night “cringeworthy.” Others stated as follows: “badly programmed and robotic,” “so rehearsed he comes off as inauthentic,” and “exposed at last for the wind-up doll he is.”
Criticism of Rubio was hardly a partisan attack. Two thirds of Republicans who were surveyed afterward thought Rubio was the clear loser of the debate. Rival Chris Christie, either to be credited or blamed as the instigator of Rubio’s onstage meltdown depending on one’s political leanings, is now claiming “the whole race changed” following Rubio’s debacle. One thing’s certain. We can agree that a campaign is in serious trouble when the 10th-place finisher in the previous state caucus is schooling the establishment frontrunner and making him look like a frightened school boy on issues which Rubio should have mastered a long time ago (like his own legislative record). Christie earned just 1.8 percent of the statewide vote in Iowa, behind two candidates who already dropped out of the race — not exactly the most formidable opponent in the race.
Watch part of the debate for yourselves. For those who want a shorter version, fast forward to the 4:00 mark and then watch the final couple of minutes:
Rubio repeated himself three times, almost word-for-word, which would be forgivable perhaps had this been a high school debate among 17-year-olds. But given the far grander magnitude of this political stage after so much campaigning already, the gaffes were a glaring reminder that Rubio hasn’t quite graduated yet to a passing grade where he deserves to be taken seriously as a potential commander-in-chief. Christie was quick to pounce on Rubio’s obvious lack of preparation for the question and his apparent awkwardness throughout, expressing sentiments that just about everyone watching the debate was thinking at that instant. “There it is! There it is! The memorized 25-second speech!” said Christie gleefully, proven entirely correct about at least one thing, which is Rubio’s long-suspected infantilism.
Sadly however, the political fallout of Rubio’s repeated mishaps overshadowed something far more disturbing which merits not just criticism but sweeping condemnation. During his repeated slip ups, Rubio leveled a detestable accusation that has no place in politics, even during the heat of the moment of a presidential debate. He stated that President Obama has done “deliberate” damage to the country.
That’s right — DELIBERATE. That’s the precise word Rubio used and the accusation he made against President Obama. Rubio made that accusation three times. Go back and watch the video again and see that there’s nothing taken out of context when Rubio says, “All the damage that Barack Obama has done to this country is deliberate.”
My first reaction upon watching and hearing this was — did he really say what I think he did? Did Marco Rubio just say, without any hesitation or forethought that he believes President Obama is deliberately damaging this country?
Say what you will about President Obama’s track record and his policies over the past seven years while in office. Argue all you want. Disagree with the President. That’s every citizen’s right. Healthy debate can be constructive. But to say openly on a grand stage that a sitting President of the United States is DELIBERATELY trying to damage the country isn’t just politically irresponsible. It’s contemptible. It’s unforgivable. It should be a dis-qualifier from being taken seriously.
In fact, what was very much deliberate here was Rubio’s pandering to the wacko fringe of the modern-day conservative movement, those die-hard activists burrowed down in bunkers of hate who continue to suspect that President Obama is part of some secret plot of overthrow Western democracy, a Muslim-in-hiding who’s conspiring to impose Sharia Law in the United States, all while burning puppies and kittens draped in the American flag. “All the damage that Barack Obama has done to this country is deliberate” does not merely challenge the opposition’s patriotism. It poisons the political well.
This was a new low, even for Republicans. Even with all their widely-documented political misdeeds over many years, not even Richard Nixon or George W. Bush (Jr.) in their darkest hours would ever have hurled the charge their opponents were DELIBERATELY trying to damage the country — at least not publicly. Clearly, this is what the GOP has reduced itself to now — a subterranean sewer of sludge where even the so-called “establishment” candidate panders to unprecedented levels of hostility, hate, and slander.
With those words, Rubio has proven himself utterly unfit to run for the nation’s highest office. With one shamefully chosen phrase within an extended series of personal gaffes, Rubio reveals himself as something far worse than just an ill-prepared youthful candidate who had an embarrassing moment in front to 10 million viewers, including many likely primary voters. Given we know that just about everything coming out of Rubio’s mouth amounts to canned memorization, there’s no taking back what he said, nor any worthy explanation for a candidate making such a slanderous charge. None.
Supporters and apologists will continue insisting that Marco Rubio remains presidential material, a sort of “Boy Wonder” for the 21st century.
Well, he’s not. He’s no Batman in a nation that desperately needs and deserves a sort of superhero as its leader. He’s not ready to drive the Batmobile yet. Not now, perhaps not ever. He’s more like the sidekick Robin trying desperately to hide an ugly face which reveals so much of that’s wrong with the American political process and the self-defeating partisan divide.
Marco Rubio should apologize immediately. Then, he should gracefully bow out of the presidential race.