Saturday, February 06, 2016


I keep telling you that if Marco Rubio gets the Republican presidential nomination he will absolutely win the general election, in large part because the mainstream media hates both Democratic candidates and will embrace Rubio as a likable fratboy-turned-dad, just the way the press embraced George W. Bush in 2000. (Remember, this year the Democrat won't really be able to run on peace and prosperity, which kept Gore in the race sixteen years ago.)

Still don't believe me? Read this, from Michael Barbaro and Jeremy Peters in The New York Times, and watch the Rubio-media love affair begin:
Marco Rubio Turns Toward the Personal on the Campaign Trail

... as the presidential campaign enters its most intense phase yet, Mr. Rubio’s cautious style has quietly but unmistakably evolved, shedding its impersonal rime and offering intimate -- and increasingly improvised -- glimpses into his childhood, his family and even his finances.

... When a mother described the toll of raising an autistic child, Mr. Rubio spoke for seven emotional minutes about watching the 2-year-old daughter of a family friend wrestle with the disorder. And when a libertarian asked him about the excesses of the criminal justice system, Mr. Rubio told the story of his own run-in with the police when he was 18.

As he reconstructed a loud night of beer drinking in a Miami park, Mr. Rubio stopped himself and smiled. “Please don’t tell my kids,” he asked his audience playfully.

... As voting neared in the Iowa caucuses last week, Mr. Rubio’s speeches about America at the brink and the perfidy of President Obama suddenly contained a disarming detail about his father: Mario Rubio was a Cuban native, and his English was so poor when he arrived in the United States, his son recalled, that he needed a cousin to write down a phonetic message for him to recite to potential employers: “I am looking for work.”
He's empathetic! He's a regular guy! He has a compelling backstory! Oh, and did we mention the time he made a voter cry? A Democratic-leaning voter?
Carol-Ann Fitzgerald, 58, who describes herself as “more Democratic than Republican,” said she teared up on Thursday afternoon when Mr. Rubio recalled his father’s trouble finding work when he immigrated from Cuba. It was, she said, the story of her own father, a French-speaking immigrant from Canada.

“That’s what hit home for me,” Mrs. Fitzgerald said.
Even Rubio's weaknesses are discussed only in the context of his perceived strengths:
But the newly personal and unguarded approach to campaigning is a recognition that the assets he has worked hardest to develop -- mastery of foreign policy, and a bruising critique of the Obama era -- are not enough by themselves to capture the hearts of voters. And that the ones he was born with -- a compelling family history and an innate charm -- will only grow more important as he appeals to broader sections of the electorate.

It is also a reminder that Mr. Rubio, for all his dexterity as a public speaker, did not start campaigning for president full time until December. He required time, advisers said, to become comfortable with the daily rhythms of interacting with and fielding questions from hundreds of voters from morning until night.
So if he's been stiff and robotic on the campaign trail in the past, it's because he was working so hard to develop a "mastery of foreign policy" and a "critique of the Obama era" that's "bruising" -- oh, and you can't blame him for being less than brilliant in the past, because he "did not start campaigning for president full time until December," and it's hard, darn it, to spend one's days selflessly "interacting with and fielding questions from hundreds of voters from morning until night." And yet we mustn't forget that "a compelling family history and an innate charm" were gifts "he was born with," nor must we overlook his innate "dexterity as a public speaker."

Wow, New York Times. When are you popping the question?

This dovetails with what we learn from Mickey Kaus, who loathes Rubio, after he attended a Rubio campaign event:
Was Rubio really as slick and insubstantial in this setting as John Edwards? Answer: No. He’s slicker. He’s slicker, in part, because he at least seems a bit spontaneous, ... with a slightly goofy, human quality....

When it comes to substance, Rubio draws on an inventory of well-prepared rhetorical modules, with just enough policy to sound sophisticated.... There’s a heavy emphasis on electability.... Tellingly, however, Rubio has added a Trump Module, where he alludes to anger at stagnant wages.

He’s got an immigration module too. It ... adopt[s] what seems to be an Enforcement First framework, in which “nothing” happens, amnesty-wise, until the border is “secure.” ... Rubio prefaces all this with a digression on ISIS, and how it’s changed the immigration debate: Because our top priority has to be to “keep ISIS out of this country.” ... the audience loves it. The ISIS digression gets the biggest applause of the day.

All of this is mildly terrifying. If Rubio’s a “robot,” as many have charged, he’s a sophisticated new model robot with simulated humanistic elements and a charm algorithm.
Bernie Sanders can be charming, but even though you may have seen him be charming, you "know" -- because the press always reduces him to this -- that he's just an angry, fist-shaking old crank. And you "know" that Hillary Clinton is just a shrill, braying harridan, because that's what you're always told, even though she can be charming, too.

By November, if he's the nominee, everyone will "know" that Marco Rubio is the most likable Republican in a generation, and that he's smart as a whip, and that he has an extraordinarily moving life story. I'm going to keep saying it: Be afraid.


Yastreblyansky said...

Rubio is a walking money laundry. I really don't see how this doesn't ultimately catch up with him. Gail Collins is on to him in the way she was onto Romney and the dog-on-the-roof story.

Unknown said...

And I keep saying no one can read the future.

What you've done, SM, is note the template on which Rubio is running, note that it's receiving support from a campaing piece published in a newspaper which, if Rubio games the RNC nomination (which looks quite plausible now), will most definitely NOT be endorsing him in the general election.

The Times will NOT be endorsing Rubio, and instead will be sobering recommending most strongly AGAINST him, for a number of mostly if not entirely sound reasons INCLUDING that very "mastery over foreign policy" you've noted, but also his position on women's health issues particularly abortion, that he has no proven ability to even balance his own personal accounts leave aside run anything, and that he is campaign is utterly stripped of any substance beyond pandering to pre-existing GOP conditions that have proved, time and again, disastrous failures and even fatal.

What a piece like this aims to achieve is simply access to the candidate, hopefully (for for the Times but more important for us) sufficient to catch up the candidate in something deliciously or gloriously Pulitzerian.

I concede that it's quite possible, even rationally predictable this early on as probable, that the Times editorial board will couch its final recommendation in the general in terms of regret, both against and for. That's awful, of course, but then, that's been the Times for many years now, going all the way back to Watergate, when it provided extremely strong rational and historically commendable coverage that it's spent the half century actively attempting to undermine, with notable successes.

Victor said...

I picked a fine time to stop sniffing glue.

Great summation of the NY Times, post Watergate.

I hate to say this, since I heven't read her since Obama's first run, and her 'O-Bambi' line, but I wonder what MoDo will write about RUBE-io?

Not that she has any pull.

Phil Freeman said...

Who still reads the New York Times, and/or cares what they say, in 2016?

Unknown said...

Wait until Hillary runs her first ad pointing out to women that the handsome young Latino wants to force them to carry their rapist's children to term.

You'll feel better after that.

Cirze said...

I'm with you, Buddy.

It has dubya (wanna grab a beer with this guy?) written all over/through/around/on top of it.

And . . . so you've got paid trolls now?


You're getting big.

Unknown said...

From the real Unknown: I see no trolls here. One thing that's notably positive about Steve M.'s reader-comments base is that it's unfailingly courteous to host and visitors alike, which is most untrollish. Second thing is that what attracts and keeps Steve M. his wee band of merry mensches is that he's always looking for and finding fallow ground. That explains the courtesy: it's really a manifestation of respect for what he does, whether or not everyone agrees with his take.

Also, to 'other' Unknown: exactly. Even in foresaken Mississippi, when the state gummint went after abortion, the people shot that right down. Rubio's antiabortion is the most extreme of any serious presidential candidate in decades, and the likely Dem nominee is just the woman to run with that.

Steve M. said...

Phil, the Times has 1,094,000 digital subscribers, according to the most recent statistics. But the point is that the Times helps set the tone for the rest of the media.

And for those who think abortion will ink Rubio, remember that it didn't sink W -- or people like Cory Gardner and Joni Ernst in 2014 (in states Obama won twice).

Ten Bears said...

If Jeb (...) can't hang in there until the unserious can fall to the wayside, I'll give you this one. I, of course, am unconvinced Jeb (...) v Jeb (...) in a Dress! isn't a decision that has already been made. Just has to wait it out.

Victor said...

A spell caster?

There'a a whacko in the comment section, above!

Can I get a spell cast to make you disappear, Kate Mark?

I gotta admit, that stupid comment/ad was a hell of a lot more entertaining than the ones telling how people are making thousands and thousands of dollars a week from home, and you can too!

Steve M. said...

I cast the spam filter spell. She's gone.

Unknown said...

None of Bush, McCain, Romney, Gardner or Ernst were contesting the general against someone with the ovaries to make a big issue out of it.

Unknown said...

Zero Derp Thirsty got exposed last night as something between the Marc-Hal 9 as Chris "Dave" Christie messed with its circuit board and the robot Ash barfing up machine fluid after being torn to pieces in Alien.

I admire Chris Christie's purity.

Actually, I don't at all; but what Christie did to Rubio wasn't just revelatory, it's actually repeatable, and something within the capacity of Trump, Kasich, and perhaps even Jeb. In the hands of an even better lawyer than Christie, the stage crew will be picking Rubio bits out of the carpets and wall covering for years after. Cruz is actually so overqualified for this, when it happens, it'll be like a cross between a video from inside an abattoir and Seal Team Six taking out a maternity word.

Lit3Bolt said...

Yes Rubiobot malfunctioned last night, but unless more outlets than Salon or Politico pick it up, it will whiff over voters' heads.

I don't think any newspaper will even mention it and the Sunday talking heads will gloss over it.

CF2K said...

This was Marco's "Dean Scream." I don't know if it will reverberate past Tuesday, but I also don't know whether it will need to. And it will live forever on social media.

Ten Bears said...

It was my turn to sit with great Grampa last night, and (cringe) actually watched. Bubble boy's balloon wasn't the only balloon popped, and Jeb (...) did a pretty good job of hanging in there and letting everyone else make complete fools of themselves. That could carry him through to the ticket, keeping quiet and letting people think he's a fool while the remaining clowns run around shooting their mouths off proving it. And he is the establishment favorite, like Clinton the "presumptive nominee".

Unknown said...

"Other" Unknown here: It was interesting to watch Marco try to thread the needle on his abortion stance. He figured that if he paid lip service to the idea of a woman's right to control her body (which will not play well with the large slut-punisher contingent in the GOP), he'll be able to get away with forcing her to serve as her rapist's breeding stock nonetheless. Signs Point To No.

As for having his Westworld face mask slip off, while the schadenfreude was delicious for hardcore debate watchers, I don't know if it will have a big impact on the larger race. The truth is that every candidate repeats their favorite talking points ad libitum. (Did you know that Chris Christie was a federal prosecutor? And that governors, unlike senators, have to solve problems? And that his wife was in New York on 9/11?)

If it does cost him votes on Tuesday, they're probably going to Cruz. Given Trump's sagging profile in general and his deadly embrace of eminent domain, Cruz might just pull off another upset. In which case Trump will have to scream about vote rigging and drop out in a huff to spare himself further humiliation.

Unknown said...

Lit3Bolt, well, it's everywhere this morning. Most particularly there's widdew pitchew of widdew Mawco pwaying wid a football on Drudge's page, over the word's "ROUGH NIGHT".

It's hard to predict what might become a cultural icon, like Wassup. It's relatively easier to predict viral, but really no one can predict viral reliably. But the CANDIDATES for going viral, the things that become a thing, those easy: each of us recognizes those immediately. Rubio's bottle boy moment was once of those, and now it appears that his robot breakdown night has been made so.

So as I head below to click "I'm not a robot", I do so with a joke question in my head, about Rubio, that all can see coming an Internet away. That, IMHO, is the very essence of viral.