The problem with Rubio’s message is not repetition

Chris Christie, Ben Carson

The critique of Marco Rubio has been that he is a manufactured candidate, competent at reciting a script but too pretty and youthful to handle the heat of a big moment. His behavior when given a chance to deliver the State of the Union rebuttal a few years ago gave that theory a lot of credence.

Well, it happened again at the GOP debate Saturday night. At a critical moment in the campaign, with the party establishment seemingly ready to embrace him as its champion, Rubio foundered. After Gov. Chris Christie accused him of being unable to respond with anything but canned answers given to him by advisers, Rubio lamely responded, again and again, by repeating the same canned answer given to him by advisers. It was as if his brain was stuck on replay.

“There it is! There it is!” Christie pounced, extending his index finger to point out the emperor’s lack of clothing. “The memorized 25-second speech! There it is, everybody.” And there it was.

dt.common.streams.StreamServerIt was a bad moment for Rubio, and although he later recovered a degree of calm, it’s never a good thing to validate your opponents’ chief criticism in front of a national TV audience. We won’t know until Tuesday night what impact it has had on New Hampshire voters, but it could not have been good. I’m sure Democratic strategists were also taking note of how easily Rubio could be rattled.

However, let’s focus a bit on the content of the anti-Obama soundbite that Rubio kept repeating, because that is even more telling about the nature of his candidacy. Here was one version:

“We have to understand what we’re going through here. We are not facing a president that doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows what he is doing. That’s why he’s done the things he’s done. That’s why we have a president that passed Obamacare and the stimulus. All this damage that he’s done to America is deliberate.”

“All the damage that he’s done to America is deliberate.” Later in the debate, butting into an unrelated discussion about state taxes and job creation between Christie and John Kasich, Rubio went at it yet again:

“I think anyone who believes that Barack Obama isn’t doing what he’s doing on purpose doesn’t understand what we’re dealing with here, OK? This is a president — this is a president who is trying to change this country. When he talked about change, he wasn’t talking about dealing with our problems.¹

“Obamacare was not an accident. The undermining of the Second Amendment is not an accident. The gutting of our military is not an accident. The undermining of America on the global stage is not an accident.”

Let’s set aside the debate about the accomplishments of the Obama administration — some 20 million more Americans with health insurance, a jobless rate of 4.9 percent, wages finally beginning to rise, the deficit cut by more than half, Iran forced to shut down reactors and surrender its stockpile of enriched uranium — and focus on the sheer nastiness of Rubio’s argument: Obama is not only weakening America, he is doing it on purpose.

That kind of argument should never come from the lips of a major presidential candidate. Unnamed trolls on the Internet may make such claims; talk-radio hosts eager to draw attention to themselves may do the same. But Rubio’s argument, with its intimations of disloyalty and treachery, ought to have no place in civil debate among those who aspire to lead all Americans.

But according to Rick Wilson, a Republican consultant and Rubio backer, it is a calculated decision and part of the campaign’s core strategy.

“Four times Rubio reminded you how much you hate that son of a bitch Barack Obama,” Wilson told Politico in defending Rubio’s remarks. “If you are a regular Republican voter, that is a message you are amenable to.”

That may be true, but it doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t make it smart. According to Gallup, President Obama’s job approval rating last week was 48 percent, compared to 49 percent for Ronald Reagan at this point in his presidency and 34 percent for George W. Bush. Another 48 percent disapprove of Obama’s performance.

Certainly, the 48 percent of Americans who approve of Obama’s performance are a poor audience for Rubio’s character attack and insinuations. And I still have enough faith in the American people to believe that even among the 48 percent who disapprove of Obama, a significant portion will shrink from the basic lack of decency, respect and civility inherent in Rubio’s rhetoric. There will still be many who can disagree with Obama politically without “hating that son of a bitch.”

I hope that we’re a better country than Rubio believes us to be.

——–

¹Yes, he was talking explicitly about dealing with our problems. The famous Obama statement to which Rubio refers came five days before the 2008 election, in a speech in Missouri:

“Now, Mizzou, I just have two words for you tonight: five days. Five days. After decades of broken politics in Washington, and eight years of failed policies from George W. Bush, and 21 months of a campaign that’s taken us from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunshine of California, we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.

“In five days, you can turn the page on policies that put greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks on Main Street. In five days, you can choose policies that invest in our middle class, and create new jobs, and grow this economy, so that everyone has a chance to succeed, not just the CEO, but the secretary and janitor, not just the factory owner, but the men and women on the factory floor.”

At the time, we were in the midst of an eight-month stretch in which we lost an average of 675,000 jobs a month. In the six years since February of 2010, we have gained 14 million jobs and have experienced the longest stretch of job growth in the nation’s history.

 

Reader Comments 0

1277 comments
tireOfIt
tireOfIt

Ted Cruz's National Security Advisor has zero national security experience, in fact, she's an art historian.​

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

I guess the Bundy Crime Family Nature Sleepover is still going on?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 You guys keep you head buried in the sand, but, do so at your own peril.  Keep skating along and before you know it, Hillary gets indicted


We have been hearing that the Clintons were going to jail any day now for the last 25 years


Call us Democrats the townspeople. We aren't coming when you cry wolf anymore.

honested
honested

@Hedley_Lammar 

To their credit, the obsession has funded the career of many a republiklan 'investigator'.

Funny how willing we taxpayers are to fund investigations about nothing.

Wonder why SETI doesn't have all the money it will ever need based on republiklan spending priorities.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@honested @Hedley_Lammar Whitewater cost a fortune.


The Benghazi nonsense did too


But hey the lawyers got rich.


In truth neither of those "scandals" was ever about the Clintons going to prison. There was never any there there.


Its a swift boat type deal that the GOP has become famous for. 


Does anyone honestly think HC emails would be a big deal  if she wasn't running for President. If the answer  is no then what does that tell you

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@DownInAlbany 

Just curious - what do you think she may have said in those speeches that would be so damning?

honested
honested

@DownInAlbany 

It must have been the standard 8 minutes since you last fixated on this non-story.

Do you guys comprehend that Governance has little to do with the stuff you hear on am radio?

honested
honested

@Nick_Danger @DownInAlbany 

It doesn't matter.

If the speeches were made public at 1:00 this afternoon and proved nothing, there would be another nonsense whining point by 1:30.

Congress could pass legislation making all paid speeches be made public tomorrow. Which party would obstruct such an idea tooth and nail?

foo2u
foo2u

Thank God the Republicans in Michigan have taken steps to protect the children... by outlawing anal sex among consenting adults...

Derp...

RaindroidWillBoy
RaindroidWillBoy

The perfect humorists dream....Hillary gets DEM nod (if not indicted), the Rube or Cruz get GOP, Trump and Bloomberg run as independents...


Peachs
Peachs

@RaindroidWillBoy Bloomberg is not going to run he does this every four years and never pulls the trigger, and he would not win and he messes his own party up.  

TBS
TBS

@RaindroidWillBoy


Bloomberg maybe not Trump

Trump seems to have a good chance at the R nomination. 

I think he knows he can't win as an Independent.  That's why he isn't running as one now


Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Last night upon seeing the video evidence on the teevee, I posted:

So Trump is on record as calling Cruz a p u s s y.

I still believe he'll call someone -- probably Obama -- a n#gger before the campaign is done.

To which Classilib replied, not unreasonably:

Your basis for such a statement? None doesn't count. 

Ok--I’ll give my basis for that belief here, since we’re still waiting on clean Jay-sheets.

I don’t think Trump would drop an N-bomb because that’s the sort of language he typically uses to describe Black folk. Rather, I think he’d do it just to show what he can get away with. (and of course, he’d likely do it in the kind of cowardly passive-aggressive way he used to call Cruz a p-ssy.)

But seriously, can’t you imagine the uproar? and his explanation? which would surely be “Obama’s used the word, what, I can’t as well?” or along those lines, anyway.

His fan base would la-la-love it.

It might not happen, but I won’t be at all surprised if it does.

honested
honested

@Visual_Cortex 

In either case it would demonstrate the problem chump has developed for himself. Such a declaration would neither cost him votes, nor gain him votes as it is probably safe to say the large minority within the minority party is all the votes he will likely ever be able to count.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Visual_Cortex Trump will never use the N word in public.  He is bold but not stupid.

However, it is utterly ridiculous that blacks give a pass to other blacks for using the N word but want to bring down hell on anyone else, especially whites who do.

That kind of thinking goes along with "separate but equal" and non-assimilation that keep the race wars going until whites fade, and then the war will be with hispanics.

TBS
TBS

@RaindroidWillBoy @Visual_Cortex


Before you get your knee to jerking VC didn't say he used it  He is speculating that he might

I think he is wrong with his speculation but even you can see he didn't claim he used it. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@RaindroidWillBoy @Visual_Cortex 

Does he use the N word?  

Not the point. (although growing up in Queens--even in fancy-schmancy Jamaica Estates--it's not like it wouldn't be in use with some regularity back in the day.)

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@JohnnyReb @Visual_Cortex 


He is bold but not stupid.

It might be a bright career move, given his base.

give a pass to other blacks for using the N word 

I do so love it when you tell us something of the Negro.

foo2u
foo2u

Sad but true.... hyphenated Americans will never see themselves as just "Americans"...

TBS
TBS

@RaindroidWillBoy @TBS @Visual_Cortex


I think he is wrong with his speculation.

Trump can easily use many dog whistles without using the N word to get the attention he wants.

However I will say that if the race tightens up I would not be surprised if dog whistles are being blown loud and often

RaindroidWillBoy
RaindroidWillBoy

@Visual_Cortex @RaindroidWillBoy


I lived in GNY for several years.  The one thing I learned about New Yorkers is that they don't discriminate, they hate everybody...Blue bloods hate the Jews, the jews hate the blacks, the blacks hate the hispanics....

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

@Visual_Cortex the excuse will be some ridiculous iteration of - "they call each other that on da street" 

how much worse would that be than saying "there'll be a riot at the Foot Locker" or the "too worried bout the cigs and foe-ty ounces (sic)" comments that racist troll poster makes?

RaindroidWillBoy
RaindroidWillBoy

@Visual_Cortex @JohnnyReb @TBS


I don't give them a pass on killing each other with such frequency thats for sure.  Who cares what words they use...unless of course they represent a micro aggression and the aggrieved party has no close safe zone..

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@foo2u 

a bounce in the polls...

My whole point. An n-bomb is just a tool at his disposal.

rimsky
rimsky

@Visual_Cortex Trump has made the statement last year "Hillary does not satisfy her husband".  Calling Obama the N thing is plausible.

foo2u
foo2u

Lets be honest here... if the Donald were to drop the N word on Obama, it would result in a bounce in the polls...

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@JohnnyReb @TBS @Visual_Cortex 

Not that you asked me but yeah, I totally give Black folks a pass on using the term. I'd just as soon they didn't, but that's their call if they want to continue owning the word.

What, you're so freakin' petty you can't spot Black folk that little linguistic morsel?

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Visual_Cortex @JohnnyReb ever consider your assumptions might not be true?

I grew up on a cotton mill village.

If you know anything about the South at all, you would know such an upbringing gave me a wide open look at how blacks were treated.

I was lucky in that my parents were always kind to and supportive of blacks and would have swatted me into next year had I been otherwise.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@foo2u,

Disagree. I'm sure a lot if Irish Americans or Italian Americans see themselves as just American

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

Perhaps Rubio has had a stroke, which causes him to repeat himself every few minutes?

rimsky
rimsky

@Nick_Danger Sir, have been around Alzheimer's patient.  I have.  They do repeat themselves.  Sad but true.

foo2u
foo2u

As do alcoholics...