mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“The Tragedy Of Marco Rubio — And The Republican Party”: The Entire Story Of This Period In The History Of The GOP

Marco Rubio’s campaign for president isn’t dead yet, but it’s awfully close. In last night’s primaries he didn’t just do poorly — coming in a distant third place in Idaho and Hawaii, and an even worse fourth place in Michigan and Mississippi — he also failed to win a single delegate in any of the four states.

Today, Carly Fiorina endorsed Ted Cruz, making it sound as if there is no other alternative choice if Donald Trump is to be beaten. Rubio’s odds of becoming president in 2016 are now about the same as the odds I have of replacing Steph Curry in the Golden State Warriors’ starting lineup. Could it happen? Technically, yes; there’s certainly no law against it. But it’s unlikely.

Rubio’s fall is more than just the story of a promising politician who failed to do as well as he (and many others) hoped. In fact, it’s the entire story of this period in the history of the Republican Party, distilled down to a single politician.

It might be hard to remember now, at a time when so many of those in the Republican establishment support Rubio, but when he first got elected to the Senate in 2010, he was a rebel and a Tea Party darling. He took on then-governor Charlie Crist in the Republican primary for a Senate seat from Florida, moving so far ahead of him in the polls that Crist dropped out and became an independent. When he got to the Senate, that establishment embraced him — just as they embraced the Tea Party as a whole, choosing to feed the beast and make it even more vicious, not realizing that one day it would turn on them.

The GOP saw its future in Rubio. Young, smart, articulate, Hispanic, he was a new kind of Republican who could sell conservatism to a changing America. The buzz around Rubio intensified after the party lost another election behind another rich older white guy in 2012. At the beginning of 2013, Time magazine put him on its cover over the headline “The Republican Savior.” The accompanying article is extraordinary to read, given where Rubio is today. Here’s an excerpt:

Now, just two years after he arrived in Washington, the charismatic conservative often hailed as the Tea Party’s answer to Barack Obama has emerged as the most influential voice in the national debate over immigration reform. He’s also the key player in his party’s efforts to make up to Hispanic voters after a disastrous 2012 campaign featuring Republican candidates who proposed electric fences and alligators along the southern border, as well as Mitt Romney’s suggestion of “self-deportation” for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. GOP leaders know they have a demographic problem. They hope Rubio can help provide the solution, which is why they’ve chosen him to deliver the response to Obama’s State of the Union address on Feb. 12 — in English and Spanish.

Party leaders agreed that unless Congress passed comprehensive immigration reform, they could never convince Hispanics of their good faith. For Rubio, being part of the “Gang of 8″ was an opportunity to show he could be a real legislator and accomplish something important for the country and his party. That summer, the group passed its bill through the Senate, then sent it to the House, where it died.

And what was supposed to be a triumph for Rubio turned into a nightmare. Conservative talk radio declared him a traitor — both for advocating comprehensive reform that included a path to citizenship (albeit a long one) for undocumented immigrants, and for the very fact of working with Democrats on something, and he was all but excommunicated from the Tea Party. Both he and the GOP establishment realized that what was good for the party as a whole wasn’t necessarily what individual elected officials (particularly in the House) wanted or could tolerate. And they came to appreciate the full measure of the base’s anger at immigrants. It turned out that rank-and-file Republicans not only didn’t want comprehensive reform, they wanted just the opposite: build walls, crack down, throw the foreigners out. Forget about “reaching out” to minority groups — this party is whiter than ever.

So when Rubio decided to run for president, he made contempt for President Obama one of the themes of his campaign. Everywhere he went, he talked about Obama’s villainy. In every debate, Rubio would answer any question by immediately launching a blistering criticism of Obama, whether the question had anything to do with him or not. That “robotic” moment where he kept repeating himself even after Chris Christie mocked him for repeating himself? The message he was trying to communicate (“Barack Obama knows exactly what he’s doing”) was that Obama isn’t just a failure but is intentionally destroying the country.

Yet just mimicking the rhetoric of talk radio wasn’t enough — for Rubio, or for the party itself. He couldn’t escape his brief heresy on “amnesty.” No matter how he tried, he couldn’t be anti-establishment enough. And no argument about how good he looks on paper as a general election candidate would sway voters who want the primaries to be a primal scream of rage against not just Washington and not just Obama but against the Republican Party itself.

Whatever his talents, the party’s golden boy can’t be the vehicle for that rage. Rubio may have many more endorsements than any other candidate — 5 governors, 14 senators, and 48 members of the House — but that probably hurt him as much as helped him, by reinforcing the idea that he’s the one the party leaders want. In the end, the candidate who worked so hard to present himself as serious and knowledgeable was reduced to making fun of the size of another candidate’s hands. Like the party as a whole, he had no idea how to handle Donald Trump, and nothing he tried seemed to work.

To be clear, Republican voters don’t dislike Rubio. In fact, he still gets higher approval ratings than Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, both of whom are crushing him at the ballot box (see here or here). He’s just not what those voters want right now. He probably would be the most formidable general election candidate. But Republican voters don’t seem to care. If the price of expressing their anger is that the Republican nominee loses in November, they seem okay with that. So as the party gets torn to pieces, the young man in a hurry who was supposed to be its savior is just one more casualty.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 9, 2016

March 10, 2016 Posted by | Establishment Republicans, GOP, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The GOP Vulgarians”: On Track To Be The Crudest, Most Vulgar And Most Disgusting Campaign In Our Nation’s History

It was William J. Bennett, education secretary in the Reagan years and the Republican Party’s premier moralist, who embedded a phrase in the American consciousness when he bemoaned the fact that “our elites presided over an unprecedented coarsening of our culture.”

Well, to borrow another famous phrase, it is Bennett’s party and two of its presidential candidates in particular, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, who are merrily defining our politics, our discourse and the American presidency down. The 2016 Republican primary campaign is now on track to be the crudest, most vulgar and most thoroughly disgusting in our nation’s history.

A policy wonk who has spent nearly two decades in politics was watching Thursday’s GOP debate with his two teenage daughters and was horrified when one turned to him and asked: “Is this what you do?” The dad didn’t want to be named because he didn’t want to embarrass his daughters.

And Republican voters in Saturday’s contests sent a signal they, too, were turned off. Both Trump and Rubio underperformed, particularly in Maine’s caucuses and among voters who cast ballots on primary day in Louisiana.

In the state that’s home to Mardi Gras, Trump’s unexpectedly narrow three-point margin over Ted Cruz was built by early voters immune from any debate revulsion.

Call me old-fashioned or even a prig, but I have a rather elevated view of what politics can be and what it can achieve. For decades, in good political moments and bad, I have repaired for inspiration and comfort to the political philosopher Michael Sandel’s description of politics at its best. “When politics goes well,” he wrote, “we can know a good in common that we cannot know alone.”

In the GOP right now, it’s not going well.

You can place a lot of the responsibility for all this on Trump and, yes, the media. As I was writing this, MSNBC (for which I’ve worked over the years) and CNN were simultaneously broadcasting live the same Trump speech. Welcome to Trump State Television. Broadcasters have reveled in the ratings to be gained from airing Trump’s stream-of-consciousness (if politically effective) rants, and the coarser the better.

We might let the blame settle there, except that Rubio got frustrated. The man the party’s leaders keep saying is the real challenger to Trump despite his early difficulties in winning actual contests decided that to beat Trump, he had to join him.

Thus began his own rants that reached a low point when he declared of Trump during a rally last month in Virginia: “I don’t understand why his hands are the size of someone who’s 5’2. Have you seen his hands? They’re like this.” Here, Rubio held his thumb and fingers closely together to depict something very small indeed. He added: “And you know what they say about men with small hands.”

My naivete extends to the fact that I did not know that small hands are often equated to diminutive endowments elsewhere. But Trump, obviously more worldly than I, went all defensive at the debate, held out his arms and declared: “Look at those hands, are they small hands? And he referred to my hands — ‘if they’re small, something else must be small.’ I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.”

Now we know.

Then there was Trump’s response earlier in the day to the attack on him by Mitt Romney. Trump had a point that Romney was happy to seek his endorsement in 2012 (and to ignore Trump’s birtherism and his other racially and religiously tinged comments about President Obama). But here is how Trump put the matter: “He was begging for my endorsement. I could have said, ‘Mitt, drop to your knees,’ and he would’ve dropped to his knees.”

We expect Trump to be loutish. Worse is Rubio’s refusal to take responsibility for the course he has chosen. Explaining that he would truly prefer to be talking about issues, Rubio went for the-devil-made-me-do-it defense. “But let’s be honest too about all this,” he explained. “The media has given these personal attacks that Donald Trump has made an incredible amount of coverage.”

Sure, he’s right about the media, but courageous politicians don’t blame someone else for what comes out of their own mouths.

By comparison, John Kasich and Cruz are looking almost as issue-oriented and responsible as, well, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. But the whole Republican race is now a moral and electoral wreck, a state of affairs that one conservative after another mourned during and after Thursday’s encounter.

Saturday’s voters quietly joined the chorus of dismay and rewarded Cruz and, to a lesser degree, Kasich.

Scattered primary results are almost always over-read, and Cruz’s Kansas victory was primarily a tribute to the influence of conservative evangelicals who delivered the state to Rick Santorum in 2012 and Mike Huckabee in 2008.

But the gap between early voters and the far more pro-Cruz primary day voters in Louisiana speaks to a shift in sentiments. And Kasich ran ahead of Rubio in Maine, which Cruz also won, and was behind in Kentucky by only two points, a surprisingly small deficit. Rubio’s attacks on Trump seem to have been a double-edged political sword: He wounded the front-runner but also hurt himself.

For decades, conservatives have done a great business assailing liberals for promoting cultural decay. Sorry, guys, but in this campaign, you have kicked away the franchise.

 

By: E. J. Dionne Jr, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, March 8, 2016

March 9, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Forced To Show His Hand”: Marco Rubio; By ‘NeverTrump,’ I Only Mean ‘I’m Never Voting For Donald Trump In The Republican Primary’

Marco Rubio has rebranded his presidential campaign as the “NeverTrump” candidacy, trying to appeal to conservatives who regard the current front-runner as a dangerous authoritarian they could never support, even if nominated. But it’s clear that Rubio does not subscribe to the “NeverTrump” analysis. At Thursday night’s debate, he conceded he would vote for whomever the party nominates, even Trump. Asked about it again on a radio interview, Rubio reaffirmed his position. “For me, I’m never voting for Donald Trump in the Republican primary … that’s the point that I was making,” he explained. So that means Rubio can count on at least one vote for himself in Florida’s March 15 primary.

Obviously, the (completely justified) passion behind the NeverTrump movement is useful for Rubio’s political ambitions. But it’s only useful up until such time as the party selects a nominee. If the nominee is Trump, Rubio will need to fall in line to have a career in Republican politics. And if Rubio manages to pull the nomination out of some contested-convention scenario, he’ll also need to patch things up with Trump so his voters turn out.

But by admitting he’s not really with “NeverTrump,” Rubio undercuts his appeal to Republican elites. The point of that campaign is to tell the party Establishment not to make its peace with Trump. A Trump nomination, they are saying, will split the party in two and cause a large schismatic faction to either stay home or back a splinter candidacy. That threat is designed to stop, or at least slow, the trickle of Establishment surrender to the front-runner. But that tactic only works if the NeverTrumpers can make the threat credible. Some of them will follow through, but a lot of them — especially the ones whose careers are most closely tied to partisan politics — are bluffing. Rubio has been forced to show his hand.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 4, 2016

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Establishment Republicans, GOP Primary Debates, Marco Rubio | , , , , | 3 Comments

“Rubio’s Big Fade”: As Cruz Crushes Caucuses, GOP Establishment Needs A Drink And A Hug

Ted Cruz crushed the Kansas and Maine caucuses on “Super Saturday” while Donald Trump narrowly won the Louisiana and Kentucky prizes. But perhaps the biggest news was Marco Rubio fading in the field to a distant third place, despite racking up major endorsements across the map.

Over the past six weeks, the GOP establishment has moved from denial to anger to bargaining in the stages of grief that have accompanied this outsider election. But with Rubio’s big fade, the Hail Mary of a brokered convention looks even less likely. And what’s left of the party’s center-right is heading for the next stage of depression. A hug and a drink are in order, as their party prepares to be wrested away from reform Republicans.

How bad was it?

Well, their unofficial standard bearer, Marco Rubio, got schlonged.

The Florida Republican—struggling to present himself as the establishment-friendly alternative to Donald Trump—had perhaps his worst night yet, racking up zero wins, and failing to even snag a second-place finish anywhere.

In fact, Rubio finished third in three of the four states contested on Saturday. And with just 8 percent, the Florida senator fell to fourth in Maine—failing to get the minimum 10 percent necessary to win any delegates.

Trump pounced on this, opening his West Palm Beach victory press conference with a call for Rubio to drop out.

“Marco has to get out of the race. Has to,” Trump said.

The math for Rubio isn’t pretty.

There’s now no question that Rubio’s decision to descend to Trump’s level of discourse has been a total failure. The attacks on the size of Trump’s hands, the jokes about him wetting himself, the “con artist” name-calling, have all fallen flat.

And the losses on Saturday could rob his campaign of desperately needed momentum. Rubio has repeatedly stated that he expects to win in his home state of Florida on March 15. And, of course, that’s technically possible. But he has yet to lead in a single public poll of the state. And he doesn’t want to talk about what he’ll do if Florida doesn’t work out.

The billionaire businessman, with the flair of a pro wrestler, said he hoped for a head-to-head match-up with Cruz.

“I would love to take Ted on one-on-one,” he growled. “I want Ted one-on-one.”

If Rubio takes Trump’s advice, then some hot Cruz/Trump one-on-one action could be in our future. Best election ever.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, With Reporting by Tim Mak; The Daily Beast, March 6, 2016

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Establishment Republicans, GOP Primaries, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , | 2 Comments

“Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted, Yoga And Manhood”: The Debate That Made America Dumber

Thursday’s Republican presidential debate made us all dumber.

It was a disgrace. As people wake up in capitals around the world Friday morning, in London and Addis Ababa and Riyadh and Beijing and Seoul, newscasters will be forced to find a way to discuss, in their local euphemisms, Donald Trump’s dick size.

The exchanges on the stage at the Fox Theater in Motown centered around erstwhile reality television star Donald Trump, who found, as usual, a way to be even more outrageous than he has been in previous debates.

Sen. Marco Rubio—a 44-year-old U.S. senator! A grown man! With children!—had made fun of Trump’s hand size, implying that his manhood was not so large.

“I have to say this. He hit my hands. Nobody has ever hit my hands. I have never heard of this. Look at those hands. Are they small hands?” Trump responded, on a nationally televised debate to become leader of the free world.

“And he referred to my hands, if they are small, something else must be small,” Trump deadpanned. “I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee you.”

There was shouting inside the debate hall and out. As a light snow fell on Woodward Avenue across from Ford Field, progressive protesters growled about their issues of the day: their objections to “racist” Trump; their demand for a higher minimum wage; calls for an immediate solution for the lead-poisoned people of Flint.

But the shouting and chanting was statesmanlike compared to the childish theatrics indoors. You could practically hear your brain cells crying out in pain as they died out, answer after answer.

There were insults, and Donald Trump defending war crimes, and Cruz treating the businessman like a small child. Trump called Rubio “little Marco,” and Cruz “lyin’ Ted.”

It was beyond satire. The first question, to Trump, was about former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who had delivered a scathing speech challenging Trump’s fitness to become president.

“He challenged you to answer with substance, not insults. How do you answer Mitt Romney, sir?” asked Fox News moderator Chris Wallace.

“He was a failed candidate,” Trump shot back. “He failed miserably, and it was an embarrassment to everybody.”

When Rubio challenged Trump on whether he’d answer a policy question substantively, the businessman responded like an adolescent: “Don’t worry about it, little Marco.” Rubio fired back: “Let’s hear big Donald.”

It was like a kindergarten brawl: a lot of cheap insults, a lot of whining, culminating with the need for everyone to have a time out. Sen. Ted Cruz—a 45-year-old U.S. senator! A grown man! With children!—treated Trump much like he would his two young daughters.

When Trump tried to interrupt him during an answer, Cruz responded patronizingly, “Donald, learn not to interrupt. It’s not complicated—Count to 10. Count to 10.”

“Yelling and cursing people doesn’t make you a tough guy,” Cruz said, as if lecturing an infant on the playground.

Meanwhile Trump one-upped everyone by defending torture, and insisting that the military would follow through with illegal orders if he gave them. Trump had previously said that his national security policy would involve targeting the innocent family members of terrorists and the use of interrogation methods even more extreme than waterboarding.

“They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me,” Trump said. “We should go for waterboarding… and tougher than waterboarding… I’m a leader, I’ve always been a leader… if I say do it, they’re going to do it.”

And on targeting the family members of terrorists, a potential war crime? “I have no problem with it,” Trump said.

The businessman struggled to square these authoritarian instincts with one of his key selling points: that he’d be the man who could make a deal with Congress, with China, with Vladimir Putin. He has a “strong core” that is also “flexible,” he said.

“You can breathe,” Cruz told Trump, during yet another shouting match. “I know it’s hard.”

“When they’re done with the yoga, can I answer a question?” Rubio butted in.

“I really hope we don’t see yoga on this stage,” Cruz responded.

“Well he’s really flexible, so you never know,” Rubio quipped.

On a day that former governor Romney gave a speech in Utah decrying Trump’s excesses, the dumbest presidential debate of all time took place. It must have made much of the American public yearn for a less stupid time—when the biggest controversy of the day was Romney’s car elevator and awkward word choices. How quaint that all was.

 

By: Tim Mak, The Daily Beast, March 4, 2016

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: