15 February 2016

The self-destruction of Marco Rubio?

Two video sound-bites this weekend stood out for me. One was Senator Rubio, expressionlessly priggish and dead-eyed, telling an interviewer that the Republicans would not entertain any nomination by President Obama of a successor to the late Justice Scalia. The other came from the latest Republican primary debate. Rubio was challenging Senator Cruz's interpretation of something he, Rubio, had said in a Spanish-language interview with the Univision network. How did Cruz even know what I said, Rubio asked, when he -- like Rubio a Cuban-American -- doesn't speak Spanish? To which Cruz answered immediately, angrily, en espanol. I'm told after the fact that Cruz's wasn't good Spanish, but I suspect that he comprehends the language better than he speaks it, which would defeat Rubio's argument, and in any event most people watching on TV probably couldn't judge Cruz's fluency. They only saw that Rubio had again been made to look like a fool during a presidential debate. Not so long ago, the Floridian had been the hope of the Republican establishment, if not Republican moderates, against the rock of Trump and the hard place of Cruz. But then Gov. Christie embarrassed him in the previous debate by exposing his rote repetition of talking points, and now, after that face-off with Cruz, I imagine people are thinking that Rubio is incapable of thinking before opening his mouth. By comparison, Trump may seem to shoot his mouth off recklessly, but there's clearly some calculation of effect, some conscious desire to outrage some and entertain the rest, going on as he talks. Rubio seems to talk as if incapable of imagining even a spontaneous response to his words. Nearly all the Republicans acted before thinking this weekend after Justice Scalia's death, and one of them will pay the consequences in November. But Rubio may dodge that bullet, if only because he'll have shot himself full of holes long before.

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