I so yearn to dwell in Rubio World that today, when a store clerk asked me, “Will that be cash or charge?,” I duly replied: “Here’s the bottom line. This notion that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing is just not true.”
When I slid my credit card the wrong way, he asked, “Do you know what you’re doing?,” and I duly replied: “Let’s dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
When I decided to pay cash, he said, “Don’t forget to take your change,” and I duly replied, “Let’s understand what we’re dealing with here, OK? This is a president who is trying to change the country.”
But seriously, folks. The Saturday night Republican debate packed more laughs than Larry David’s subsequent gig on Saturday Night Live. Marco Rubio – the alleged Boy Wonder, the supposedly surging “establishment” “moderate” – needs a Genius Bar booking at an Apple store. Based on what we saw this weekend, the computer chip that his tutors embedded in his head is glitching as egregiously as an iPhone dunked in bath water.
I have no idea whether his malfunction will fatally alienate New Hampshire’s undecided voters, but presidential candidates tend to fare poorly once they’ve become objects of mockery – and once they’ve been bloodied to the cusp of humiliation. Which is how Rubio looked when he staggered from the back alley where Chris Christie had given him a beatdown.
And I have no idea whether Christie has thus resuscitated himself – harsh attacks often hurt the attacker as well as the attackee – but he performed a public service by showing us that Rubio isn’t ready for prime time….Wait, let me amend that. Goaded by his tormentor, it was Rubio who showed us.
If you didn’t watch the debate (because you have a life), it all started when Rubio was asked to name his “accomplishments in the Senate.” That’s actually a toughie, because he has no accomplishments; in 2013, he led for awhile on immigration reform, until the right-wing nativists went ballistic and he fled like a scalded dog. So, on Saturday night, all he could muster was, “I’m proud of my service in the United States Senate,” a remark that’s lighter than a breeze-blown balloon.
Then, moments later, his software kicked in and his mouth disgorged the usual pre-chewed brain food. We’d heard it a million times before, and suddenly there it was again – a rote non sequitur that had nothing to do with his Senate record:
And let’s dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country, to make America more like the rest of the world.
Christie quickly assailed Rubio for being a typical showhorse senator who makes speeches and proposes bills – whereas governors like Christie are held accountable for actual decisions. Christie said that Rubio “simply does not have the experience to be president of the United States.” (Not a bad strategy, on Christie’s part. Care to guess how many Republican senators have ascended directly to the White House? Just one, hapless Warren G. Harding.)
Rubio lashed back by pointing out that, under Christie, New Jersey has suffered nine credit rating downgrades (true), but then – uh oh:
But I would add this. Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He is trying to change this country. He wants America to become more like the rest of the world. We don’t want to be like the rest of the world, we want to be the United States of America.
Christie happily clubbed him again: “I want people at home to think about this….the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him.”
Rubio’s turn. After briefly rebuking Christie for failing to rush home during a blizzard, he glitched again:
Here’s the bottom line. This notion that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing is just not true. He knows exactly what he’s doing.
Remember the malfunctioning robot in Alien? Who spewed fluid after getting clubbed in the head? Christie clubbed him gleefully: “There it is! There it is! The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody!” (As I always remind my writing students, showing is far more effective than telling.)
And yet, even as Christie jeered, Rubio kept going. He was back on Obama again:
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.
Would there actually be a fifth rote recitation? You bet. An hour later, Rubio was trying to explain why he fled from his own ’13 immigration reform bill – he falsely claimed that “the American people” opposed it, whereas, in reality, it was the right-wing GOP nativists who opposed it – and Christie whacked him again: “(Rubio) acted as if he was somehow disembodied from the bill. It was his bill….See, when you’re a governor, you have to take responsibility for these things.”
Shortly thereafter, Rubio got his chance to respond – but he still couldn’t hit Escape:
Well, here’s the response. 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.
By the way, Rubio’s spinners have been feverishly trying to paint Rubio’s glitches as awesome. Here’s a handy guide. One of their main arguments is that a Republican candidate can never hate on Obama enough. Spoken like a true troll.
How will New Hampshire’s huge pool of late deciders treat such a spectacle? Will they halt Rubio’s alleged Iowa momentum, and give life to his “establishment” rivals?” Conservative analyst David Frum, a former George W. Bush adviser, wrote some merciless tweets: “It was a display of panic at a moment of uncertainty….Faced with a genuinely new situation, Rubio could not figure out what to do – and so stumbled into doing precisely the wrong thing….The big question about Rubio is: can this untested novice cope with the demands of the presidency?”
But hey, for all we know, Rubio will get votes for his “message discipline.” For all we know, there’s a big market for a talking-point robot. If so, I do want to ensure that I’m in sync with Rubiothink.
I will start right now, with this cup of coffee. It tastes bitter because of Barack Obama. Its taste is a disaster deliberately imposed by Barack Obama. It tastes like the rest of the world, not like the United States of America. But next year we will have great coffee again, in the single greatest nation in the history of the world. But I would add this. And here’s the bottom line. But I would add this. And here’s the bottom line. But I would add this. But here’s the bottom line. But I w-