There are so many places to go and bizarre spectacles to see, but for the moment these paragraphs from Steve Benen ought to be devastating:
Rubio, a member of both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, is basing much of his campaign on his alleged expertise on international affairs. The far-right Floridian would love nothing more than to be seen as the candidate who has a “deep understanding” of “the threats that the world is facing.”
But Rubio has run into Trump-like problems of his own. Just last week, in a big speech on foreign policy, the GOP senator told an embarrassing whopper about military preparedness, touching on an issue Rubio should have understood far better.
In June, Rubio was asked about his approach towards Iraq. Told that his policy sounds like nation-building, the senator responded, “Well, it’s not nation-building. We are assisting them in building their nation.”
Just this year, Rubio has flubbed the details of Iran’s Green Revolution. His criticisms on the Obama administration’s approach towards Israel were quickly discredited as nonsense. His statements of nuclear diplomacy were practically gibberish.
In the spring, Rubio had a memorable confrontation with Secretary of State John Kerry, which was a debacle – the senator stumbled badly on several key details, and Kerry made him look pretty foolish.
Soon after, Rhonda Swan, a Florida-based journalist, wrote that the Republican senator “should be embarrassed.” Swan added, “By his own standard that the next president have a ‘clear view of what’s happening in the world’ and a ‘practical plan for how to engage America in global affairs,’ Rubio fails the test.”
What’s more, as readers may recall, when Rubio has tried to articulate a substantive vision, he’s relied a little too heavily on shallow, bumper-sticker-style sloganeering, rather than actual policy measures. Rubio declared “our strategy” on national security should mirror Liam Neeson’s catchphrase in the film “Taken”: “We will look for you, we will find you and we will kill you.”
Soon after, the candidate’s team unveiled the “Rubio Doctrine”, described by Charles Pierce as “three banalities strung together in such a way as to sound profound and to say nothing.”
And yet the narrative leads with Donald Trump.
Rachel Maddow, on Monday, observed of the latest PPP poll:
So, you know, you’re Bobby Jindal, if you’re looking at these numbers, you’re Chris Christie, you’re Rand Paul, you’re poor Rick Perry, you’re looking at these numbers. You cannot get a vote or a poll number out of the Republican electorate to save your political life, Republican voters just cannot stand you and they’re not budging, I have to think that for those candidates it has to be some small comfort that Republican voters also probably have no freaking idea what they’re talking about.
It is worth considering that point here; while fifth place is still fifth place, Mr. Rubio is only two points behind Jeb Bush, who ranks third in that PPP poll, and at all of seven percent still fares infinitely better than his colleague from South Carolina, Sen. Lindsey Graham, who registers zero support. The complicating factor is Donald Trump; while Dr. Ben Carson’s popularity is easily explained by looking back to 2011 and the cycle of frontrunners that saw Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich all take their turns atop the polls, would Rubio then still place third without the current two frontrunners?
The question matters, but only in a small way. Compared to other early headline candidates such as Sen. Rand Paul (KY) and Gov. Chris Christie (NJ), Marco Rubio finds himself sitting in a pretty good position, ahead of Gov. Scott Walker (WI), Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), and Gov. John Kasich (OH).
And he is a complete clusterdiddle. Just look at that heap of gaffe-rigging. The Republican hawk promising an ominous “New American Century” seems a danger zone unto himself. It doesn’t seem to matter where he steps; something is going to break.
And in Republican circles, this year, that would seem to count for some manner of merit.
Image note: Right ― Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., arrives for the Senate Republicans’ policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty)
Benen, Steve. “Rubio targets Trump, but leads with his chin”. msnbc. 4 September 2015.
Maddow, Rachel. “New poll shows Beltway favorites Chris Christie, Rand Paul floundering”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 1 September 2015.
Beinart, Peter. “The Emptiness of the Rubio Doctrine”. The Atlantic. 15 May 2015.
Benen, Steve. “A movie catchphrase is not a foreign policy”. msnbc. 11 May 2015.
—————. “Kerry teaches Rubio the basics about the Middle East”. msnbc. 11 March 2015.
—————. “Rubio embraces a Romney error as his own”. msnbc. 31 August 2015.
—————. “Rubio struggles with ‘nation-building'”. msnbc. 4 June 2015.
Chait, Jonathan. “No, Marco Rubio, Obama Isn’t Nicer to Iran Than to Israel”. New York Magazine. 20 March 2015.
Kessler, Glenn. “Rubio’s claim that Obama would not comment on Iran’s ‘Green Revolution'”. The Washington Post. 24 March 2015.
Newell, Jim. “Rubio’s latest Iran claptrap: The next president can back out of a nuclear deal, and it will be just fine!”. Salon. 19 March 2015.
Pierce, Charles P. “Marco Rubio In The Wilderness Of Rakes, Cont’d: A Doctrine In The House”. Esquire. 15 May 2015.
Swan, Rhonda. “Rubio keeps showing he’s not ready for Oval Office”. The Sun Sentinel. 17 March 2015.