What It Comes To (Par Excrement)

Commander Amaro suffers a bout of masculine insecurity. (Detail of FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet')

So ....

If it seemed strange enough that Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump should hit Marco Rubio for sweat, and Mitt Romney for bowel control, and that Sen. Rubio should respond by mocking Donald Trump’s sweat and bladder control, then I have no idea what to tell you about what comes next.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), part of the U.S. Senate's 'Gang of Eight', speaks during a news briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., 18 April 2013. (Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed)Marco Rubio again unleashed an array of sharp attacks on Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, jabbing at his “small hands” and “spray tan.”

In response to the property mogul calling him “little Rubio,” Rubio conceded that Trump was taller than him. However, the Florida senator suggested Trump had small hands for his height.

“And you know what they say about guys with small hands,” Rubio said with a smile, prompting stunned laughter from the crowd.

The report from Alex Jaffe of NBC News is not exactly encouraging insofar as anyone might care about pretenses of dignity. This is your Republican Party.

It is one thing to wonder how low this can go. It is another to grab the popcorn and enjoy the spectacle. But while this is reality, it is not reality television proper.

Here is a question: How low do we have to search in order to find an upside? Because it only gets worse.

Or, as Jaffe’s report explains:

Rubio also targeted Trump’s notorious tan, saying he “doesn’t sweat because his pores are clogged from the spray tan.”

“Donald Trump isn’t gonna make America great, he’s gonna make America orange,” he said.

Steve Benen, meanwhile, notes:

Congratulations, Republicans. We’ve reached the point in the race for the GOP nomination in which the establishment favorite appears to be telling jokes about the size of his rival’s penis.

It helped add an exclamation point to a weekend in which Rubio thought it would be hilarious to tell jokes about Trump’s hair and skin color. “Donald Trump likes to sue people,” Rubio told an audience on Saturday. “He should sue whoever did that to his face.”

What’s more, consider what Rubio apparently thinks about the Republican Party’s voters. On the eve of Super Tuesday, behind in the polls, Rubio believes he can get ahead by relying on tasteless bathroom humor. In other words, the senator sees Trump leading in the polls, which has prompted him to effectively declare, “Oh, you like buffoonish clowns? No problem! I can be a fool, too!”

In this case, it’s hardly an exaggeration. Todd Harris, a senior Rubio adviser, acknowledged to the Boston Globe that the campaign “came to the conclusion” that there are advantages to “being part of the circus.”

The sometimes U.S. Senator from Florida seems aware of the disgrace, pleading in Alabama that while he was not raised to behave this way, his passion somehow warrants such undignified and unpresidential behavior. And as David Weigel explains for the Washington Post, regardless of what others might think, Mr. Rubio’s explanation that, “I feel passionate about it”, seems good enough for his supporters:

Rubio’s voters, who skew more educated than Trump voters, are not cheering for the election to turn into an insult contest.

“He’s kind of bringing the Trump game to Trump, and no other candidate has done that successfully,” said Edwin Chaput, 25, who previously supported Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and is now unsure of his vote.

“He’s now having to play the game that Trump plays, but I hate that Trump forced his hand,” said John Wright, 28. “One thing I like about him is that insults do not come naturally to him.”

“I wish that being above reproach, like Rubio is, could win it for you,” said Laura Powell, 24, Wright’s fiance.

Perhaps this is an occasion to parse the difference between “educated” and “intelligent”?

No, really, I do actually wonder; it’s one thing to shrug and say, “Yeah, but this is how it goes so Rubio needs to do this”. It’s quite another to lament something that isn’t true, like Marco Rubio being above reproach. It is hard to say who, other than herself, Ms. Powell thinks she is fooling. But pitching a blatant falsehood like that is pretty damn stupid, and it really is striking how often we encounter people who just aren’t smart enough to figure that out.

Then again, perhaps it is time to accustom our own selves to reality, if Sean Illing of Salon is anywhere near correct:

I hate to have to say it, but the conclusion stares us in the face: We’re a stupid country, full of loud, illiterate and credulous people. Trump has marched straight to the nomination without offering anything like a platform or a plan. With a vocabulary of roughly a dozen words – wall, Mexicans, low-energy, loser, Muslims, stupid, China, negotiate, deals, America, great, again – he’s bamboozled millions of Americans. And it’s not just splenetic conservatives supporting Trump or your garden-variety bigots (although that’s the center of his coalition), it’s also independents, pro-choice Republicans, and a subset of Reagan Democrats.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump answers a question at a news conference before a campaign rally in Hampton, New Hampshire, 14 August 2015.  (Detail of photo by Reuters/Brian Snyder)This says something profoundly uncomfortable about our country and our process. A majority of Americans appear wholly uninterested in the actual business of government; they don’t understand it and don’t want to. They have vague feelings about undefined issues and they surrender their votes on emotional grounds to whoever approximates their rage. This has always been true to some extent, but Trump is a rubicon-crossing moment for the nation.

Trump’s wager was simple: Pretend to be stupid and angry because that’s what stupid and angry people like. He’s held up a mirror to the country, shown us how blind and apish we are. He knew how undiscerning the populace would be, how little they cared about details and facts.

And, you know, that’s the trouble; Illing is not wrong.

It’s not so much the proposition of a presidential contest as a reality television show; rather, the Trump campaign helps people feel like they’re living in a television show.

It actually reminds me of a Scottish pop song.

Never mind, too obscure.

Right.

____________________

Image notes: Top ― Commander Amaro suffers a bout of masculine insecurity. (Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, “Brittle Bullet”) Middle ― U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), part of the U.S. Senate’s ‘Gang of Eight’, speaks during a news briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., 18 April 2013. (Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed) Bottom ― U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump answers a question at a news conference before a campaign rally in Hampton, New Hampshire, 14 August 2015. (Detail of photo by Reuters/Brian Snyder)

Benen, Steve. “Ready or not, the Republican circus gets a new clown”. msnbc. 29 February 2016.

Illing, Sean. “America, you’re stupid: Donald Trump’s political triumph makes it official — we’re a nation of idiots”. Salon. 24 February 2016.

Jaffe, Alex. “Donald Trump Has ‘Small Hands,’ Marco Rubio Says”. NBC News. 29 February 2016.

Weigel, David. “Rubio on Trump attack: ‘My parents didn’t raise me that way,’ but it’s necessary”. The Washington Post. 27 February 2016.

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