Is it possible that Marco Rubio is conducting his presidential campaign from inside a hermetically sealed room in which the oxygen level is kept at artificially low levels? Because the longer this endless primary campaign grinds on, the more he talks like a man who lacks the intellectual firepower God gave a turnip. And I mean no disrespect to turnips.
Consider the last few days on Planet Rubio:
- He yadda yadda’d calls for gun control in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre by saying that “I don’t hear anybody talking about bomb control,” even though Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik had brought pipe bombs along for their attack.
- He cited a bogus AP article about the closing of the NSA metadata-collection program possibly hindering the FBI’s investigation into Farook and Malik and used it as an excuse to push for Congress to re-open the program, despite the fact that a federal court has declared it unconstitutional.
- He waved off President Obama’s calls for tolerance of Muslims, asking with apparent shock, “Where is there widespread evidence that we have a problem in America with discrimination against Muslims?"
Let’s help Rubio out here. The “bomb control” comment has been refuted in detail already, as if it even needed to be, so I’ll only add that when Walmart puts a Pipe Bomb section in between the Guns and Housewares aisles, then the senator is free to advocate for no regulations of them whatsoever. Or maybe he’d like to introduce a bill to repeal the regulations on ammonium nitrate fertilizer of the type used by right-wing extremists to blow up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, if he ever shows up to his day job again.
The AP article has been thoroughly debunked, but in brief: since the FBI is conducting an after-the-fact criminal investigation, the types of data collection the NSA was doing to look for indicators someone was planning an attack in the future are irrelevant. The Bureau has its own methods of collecting phone and computer records that have nothing to do with the nation’s spy agencies. Anyone who has ever read a detective novel or watched a few episodes of “Quantico” could probably figure that one out, let alone a trained lawyer and sitting senator.
As for the evidence of discrimination against Muslims in America, he could look here or here or here. Or he could just read the statement put out Monday afternoon by the frontrunner who is currently stomping him at the polls like a hyperactive six-year-old jumping on an anthill.
The answers to these questions are so obvious or easily found that one wonders if Rubio ever reads anything besides his own press clippings and Miami Dolphins box scores. Or if he is just a half-bright, ambitious mandarin whose appeal to a GOP desperate for a young, smooth, telegenic presence marking it as the party of the future masks an intellectual vacuity so large the Sixth Fleet could sail through it. Or, most likely, all of the above.
What’s sad here is the plumping of Rubio over the last few months, undertaken by people too stuck along the Acela corridor to know better, as the best candidate for the GOP in the general election. Faced with the rising clown shows of Donald Trump and Ben Carson, the implosion of Jeb! Bush, and the fact that everyone except his immediate family hates Ted Cruz, the GOP establishment and the media have tried very hard to give Rubio a boost. The calculus makes sense: Rubio against either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would make a nice young-vs.-old storyline for the 2016 election while giving the Republicans a chance to dump their image as the party of old, racist white fogies. This despite glaring evidence that Rubio’s policy positions are so far to the right, they might make Barry Goldwater nervous.
And it has all, so far, been for naught. Rubio has revealed himself to be an empty suit with a worldliness so facile, he might as well be running for student government on a platform of bringing back Sloppy Joe Tuesdays to the school cafeteria. He has run his campaign on the cheap and has been slow to build his on-the-ground organization in early states.
And the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire may have noticed. Over the last month, his support appears to have plateaued in both places. It is certainly way too soon to say we have seen the end of Marco Rubio. But one of these days he and his backers are going to have to face up to the fact that it will take more than snarling attacks on debate opponents to sustain this campaign. So far, there is no evidence they have any other ideas.