Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Rubio Issue

Atlanta, GA – The junior Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio.
When he announced his campaign for the presidency of the United States, FiveThirtyEight, the numbers blog run by the world-renown digit-cruncher, Nate Silver, declared him the first candidate to announce he was running, who had a true shot at winning the Republican Nomination.
Since that time, many, including myself, have called him the “new Jack Kennedy” because of his youthfulness, intelligence, and fresh ideas. Despite being under major attack from Jeb Bush and his clan, with all the money and power that the Bushes have, Rubio managed to poll better than expected in Iowa, doing so well that his speech, accepting his third place finish, sounded like a victory harangue.
However, Marco Rubio has a problem. It isn’t that he is some sort of secret liberal, or that he made financial errors in the past. (Who hasn’t?) Senator Rubio’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t show up for work at the senate sometimes, indeed, that is really a non-issue. His problem isn’t his age or “inexperience,” because there is no experience in the world that can prepare you to be president.
Rubio’s problem is one of trust. When the world is on the verge of nuclear winter, when famine strikes, when Ebola gets to the US, the question the multitudes will be asking will be “can we trust our president?”
With Rubio, the answer, unfortunately, is no.
Not only is he not always certain of his positions, for instance on the Gang of Eight Bill, where he switched stances on a major issue that he should have had thought out long before he made it to the United States Senate. Rubio’s problems are not only with the man’s uncertainty about what he believes, but also the man himself.
Marco Rubio seems emotionally fragile. In his book An American Son, he talks of when he was frightful of losing an election, and how he sat in a car throwing a pity party until his wife’s example of keeping on going finally dragged him, the candidate, back to work. He speaks of not getting his food fast enough in restaurants, and how angry that has made him in the past. But Rubio stresses that was the past, and things are better now.
Before now, there have been hints, chinks in the perfectly airbrushed armor of the made-for-stage white knight, rumors that all might not be right. The time Rubio was giving the Republican response to the State of the Union, but had to stop and grab water. After that stories came out that Rubio needs a water at every event, and that he feels nervous and ill-at-ease if he doesn’t have one. But maybe that’s the past, maybe it doesn’t matter, everyone told themselves. It won’t happen again.
But it did.
On Saturday, what we saw, to put it kindly, was an emotional meltdown. Senator Marco Rubio fell apart mentally. It could be said that under the lights, with the live audience and the millions watching on television, the pressure was so great anyone could have succumbed. But it doesn’t matter, the president has to be able to take pressure. One governor who is down in the polls and is a bit tough with his words can’t make a prospective president crack up.
Rubio showed all the signs of a man breaking under strain at the debate. He began smiling in a way that showed he had nothing to say. He began repeating himself over and over again like a record had broken. Indeed, if the debate had gone on much longer, and if Governor Christie had had much more time to speak, I fully expect that we would have been treated to a shot of Senator Rubio in a room with rubber walls, wearing a white gown, and cutting out paper dolls with blunted scissors while rocking himself back and forth gently, repeating over and over “We need to understand, Barak Obama knows what he’s doing. We need to understand, Barak Obama knows what he’s doing. We need to understand…”
A man without mental vigor enough to stand up to the artificial but emotionally real challenges of television and large crowds is not a man who is fit to be President, such a man is not someone to be trusted with nuclear bombs or the reputation of our nation. Senator Marco Rubio is such a man.

Andrew C. Abbott

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