Sunday, February 07, 2016


I share the widespread belief that Chris Christie wiped the floor with Marco Rubio last night -- and for that we may owe him a debt of gratitude. Rubio's struggles last night could be the "Oops" moment that will haunt him forever -- and so the guy who was potentially the strongest general election candidate of the three Republican front-runners might struggle in New Hampshire and fade. That's good news.

(And here's a bonus: If that does happen, and if Donald Trump or Ted Cruz goes on to lose the general election this fall, Chris Christie will be, in the eyes of many members of the Republican Establishment, the man who cost the GOP two straight presidential elections, the first one by cozying up to Barack Obama after Sandy, then this one by going after Rubio. Yes, I know that the polls all favored Obama even before Sandy, but a lot of Republicans still believe, erroneously, that Romney had it in the bag until Sandy hit. Will the Establishment hate Christie for this? Look at how angry the insiders have been at Jeb Bush for pounding on Rubio all this time, in a doomed effort to save his own campaign. Christie's campaign is almost certainly doomed as well, and now he might be blamed for tarnishing Golden Boy. Smooth move, Chris.)

Rubio's problem was the robotic repetition of a single talking point -- five times, as you can see in the clip at the end of this post, starting at 0:47. But what did Christie say to get Rubio wound up? What was his argument for himself and against Rubio? It was this:
“You see, everybody, I want the people at home to think about this,” he told the debate viewers. “This is what Washington, D.C., does. The drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information, and then the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him. See, Marco, the thing is this: When you’re president of the United States, when you are a governor of a state, the memorized 30-second speech where you talk about how great America is doesn’t solve one problem for one person. They expect you to plow the snow. They expect you to get the schools open. And when the worst natural disaster in your state’s history hits you, they expect you to rebuild their state, which is what I’ve done. None of that stuff happens on the floor of the United State Senate.”
Christie put everything into this. It was well delivered. It left Rubio so rattled he repeated a talking point.

But what was Christie saying here? He was saying that being required to deal with strictly domestic problems makes him more qualified to be president that a U.S. senator, even though senators deal with foreign as well as domestic policy. He was saying that getting the streets plowed is all the job experience a potential president needs.

How is that significantly different from what was widely deemed to be Scott Walker's big, possibly campaign-derailing gaffe a year ago?
In response to a question about how he would deal with global threats such as the one posed by ISIS, Walker drew from his personal experience.

"If I can take on a 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," Walker said on the CPAC stage, after giving a longer answer about how he would handle ISIS if he were the president.

... Walker has faced bipartisan criticism for the comment...
National Review called that "Scott Walker's awful answer on ISIS." An NBC reporter asked whether it was "the first major blunder of the presidential race." But now, coming from Christie, it's a devastating attack.

What Rubio should have done was to summarize the complexities of, say, the war in Syria -- ISIS and Assad and Putin and the Kurds and Turkey and so on -- and than asked Christie, "And you think what qualifies you to take this on is that you know how to get six inches of snow plowed in Bayonne?"

But Rubio stuck with his talking point:
“But I would add this,” he said. “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...”
And then shortly afterward,
“Here’s the bottom line. This notion that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing is just not--”

“There it is!” Christie interjected. “There it is. The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.”

“That’s the reason why this campaign is so important,” Rubio protested. “Because I think this notion -- I think this is an important point. 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.”
I don't understand why this was supposed to be effective at all, even said once. Rubio was being accused of having the same level of inexperience that Barack Obama had in 2008 -- an experience deficit that some Obama-haters think put this country in peril. Rubio countered by saying that Barack Obama wasn't an incapable naif, he was a highly capable nihilist deliberately and capably destroying America by design. Conclusion: And I'm just as qualified as the America-destroyer!

Really, Marco? That was your message? Vote for me because I'm just as qualified to be president as the guy we all think brought America to his knees?

In this context, Rubio shouldn't have even said that once.


Victor said...

Last night, RUBE-io made Dan Quale look like an intellectual heavyweight!

WTF was he thinking, repeating the same line 4 or 5 times?
Was there some lack of water, that made his hydrolic yak-box keep saying the same line, over and over again?
Was their a glitch in the Marcbo-bot's debate programming?

He actually got boo'd for using that line the 4th or 5th time!

I think that whatever happened, may have helped ease the path to saving this nation by lessening the chance that a Republican will be POTUS in 2017.

And the best part is, an already nervous Marco will be even MORE nervous in the next debate!
Man, I wish I had the I had the concession to sell H2O to the candidates.
I could retire off of Marco, alone!!!

And imagine what Bernie or Hillary would do to this empty-suited/headed boy if they debate?
They'd have to call out the maintenance staff to mop-up Marco's remains, about 10 minutes in!


Curt Purcell said...

Why would we owe Christie a debt of gratitude? All he did was reveal that Rubio is not now and never really has been "potentially the strongest general election candidate" that you've been fretting about. Just because he shrugged off Bush's limp, bumbling attacks never meant he could take a punch in the mouth, and now that someone finally delivered one to him, we see what a glass jaw he's had all along. You know who really scared me, back when this whole primary started? Walker. Ha! These guys are like star college athletes who turn out to be startlingly unready for the pros.

I'm not saying Hillary is a shoo-in, but it's her election to lose. If anything costs it for her, it won't be a GOP candidate, it will be her own baggage and unforced errors.

Steve M. said...

Neither Hillary nor Bernie seems capable of landing a punch. I don't have confidence the either one of them could have scored the knockout Christie scored last night.

Feud Turgidson said...

But Steve, now it's more likely neither will have to:

The Christie attack is already gone viral. Now it'll get into Trump's talks and the ads put out by the superpacs supporting Cruz and Jeb. And should Rubio somehow survive this - which is certainly possible: this is a remarkably weak field he's up against, except for maybe Kasich, who's being ignored, and Christie's, who's been done since The Hug and Bridgegate - then the best takes from those, plus the best that a large number of very clever lefty political ad makers can make of it, will just hammer it home again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again...

Feud Turgidson said...

Chris Matthews the Seer:

"Is Rubio a robot?" That's from BEFORE the debate.

This seems to happen every presidential cycle. I think it's partly because Tweetybird chirps so often and much, but part of it I think has to do with the close connection between his mouth and his gut. He mostly comes across as inane, but watch him brag on his "presheeance...PRE-sience" again and again from now on.

Of course, the same "presheeance" had him telling his viewers that the GOP would pick Randy Paul. I doubt we'll hear much about that, tho.

Feud Turgidson said...

I've spoken it for over 6 decades, and I've been paid to do it and to write it, tho I don't claim to be an expert in how English is supposed to be spoken. Still, I'm pretty sure I've never heard the phrase "let's dispel with" used, repeatedly, as part of what's obviously a deliberately contrived, designed and memorized meme, uttered by a someone who also is in a career where being able to speak English is important to the job. 'Dispense with', sure; 'dispel' sure; but not "dispel with".

Irregardless [sic], now I want to know who TF else is paying for coming up with grammatically flawed gaffes, because that sounds like a fun gig for easy money.

Blackstone said...

The right loves to say president Obama can't deliver a speech without a TelePrompTer .. Well after last night I got a two word rejoinder: Marco Rubio.

Ken_L said...

Somebody who thinks he can summon up a "regional Sunni army" to defeat ISIS is about as unqualified as could be imagined "to summarize the complexities of, say, the war in Syria".