The Marco Rubio Show (Fadeout)

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) listens to a question at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, 13 May 2015. (Photo: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

One of the interesting things about the Trumpapalooza going on in the GOP nomination contest has to do with the cover lesser candidates are getting. Then again, this is the GOP nomination contest, so taking cover from seemingly inevitable flak has its drawbacks; rhetorical martyrdom is the way to score points with the conservative base, so perhaps Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was hoping for louder criticism:

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio sounded the alarm about the state of U.S. armed forces in a foreign-policy speech today. But his claims and campaign promises don’t account for the impact of improvements in U.S. military technology or in some cases their production schedule.

Rubio, a Florida senator, said the U.S. Navy is “now smaller than at any time since before World War I” and the Air Force “has the smallest and oldest combat force in its history.”

Yet the numbers of ships and planes don’t define U.S. military capabilities.

Mike Dorning and John Walcott of Bloomberg Politics consider the issue, and let us simply pause for a moment to appreciate the magnitude of Mr. Rubio’s utter stupidity.

When Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made the same argument — that the U.S. Navy is smaller than at any time since 1917 — during a 2012 campaign debate, President Barack Obama responded with a mocking rejoinder.

“We also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed,” Obama said. “We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”

Yes, really. Mr. Rubio hoped to get attention by recycling a damaging argumentative failure from Mitt Romney’s disastrous 2012 presidential campaign.

Steve Benen notes:

Romney at least had a decent excuse – he had no foreign policy experience, no national security experience, no working understanding of how the military operates, and he hadn’t even held public office for the six years leading up to the 2012 campaign.

Rubio, on the other hand, is currently a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and he’s basing much of his campaign on his alleged expertise on international affairs. What Rubio’s excuse for being so routinely confused about the basics?

Honestly, it’s a fair question. In June, the Florida junior tried channeling President George W. Bush when he explained of his Iraq policy, “It’s not nation-building. We are assisting them in building their nation.” And while foreign policy is not by any measure the only weak spot about Mr. Rubio’s explanations, Benen does have a point about the candidate and alleged foreign policy expertise. Neither should we be surprised that Rubio’s “New American Century” lacks originality. Of this latest rubism rubout rubber gaffe, Dorning and Walcott explain, “Other promises by Rubio merely affirm existing Pentagon priorities”. Like building two Virginia-class attack submarines per year. Which, in turn, equals a campaign promise to keep on doing what we’re already doing.

And, you know, this used to be laughable. But these days it goes under the radar, as candidates pander to Trump supporters. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, for instance―he of the Canadian border wall―has been heard pitching for Trump voters, and why not? The Cowardly Badger, like other Republican candidates, has seen his “campaign discombobulated by Trump’s booming popularity”, to borrow a phrase from Jenna Johnson and Dan Balz of the Washington Post.

Walker’s anxiety is understandable; coming in it was easy enough to posture a head-to-head contest between Gov. Walker and former Gov. Jeb Bush. But the conventional wisdom has been thrown into disarray, and we’re all left wondering why Jeb is so terrible at running for president, and Mr. Walker, who could easily have convinced himself to top Rubio, Paul, and Bush on national security, and Huckabee, Carson, and Santorum on social issues, finds himself in Donald Trump’s shadow, begging and scrabbling after crumbs. The Dickensian irony is insufficient to enjoy the moment, given the stakes.

Still, though, Mr. Walker is, simply, Governor Walker, the man who thinks forcible penetration under color of law will help women find a “cool thing”. And Mr. Rubio? He’s just a junior senator from Florida with grandiose dreams of the White House in his head, and not a clue what those sugarplum visions dancing in his head actually mean.

#GOP2016.

____________________

Dorning, Mike and John Walcott. “Why Rubio’s Alarms on the U.S. Military Don’t Add Up”. Bloomberg Politics. 28 August 2015.

Benen, Steve. “Rubio embraces a Romney error as his own”. msnbc. 31 August 2015.

Balz, Dan and Jenna Johnson. “What happened to Scott Walker?” The Washington Post. 30 August 2015.

Johnson, Jenna and Sean Sullivan. “Fading in the polls, Scott Walker aims to attract Trump voters”. The Washington Post. 18 August 2015.

Foley, Elise. “Scott Walker’s Canadian Wall Idea Is An Absurd Solution To A Real Problem”. The Huffington Post. 31 August 2015.

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