Marco Rubio

The Impossible Successor

#PresidentRyan | ¿#WhatTheyVotedFor?

Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Mike Pence speaks at a campaign rally, Oct. 22, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Amid everything else over the last week or so, we ought not forget this:

We’re left with an unsettling picture. Flynn told the transition team he’s the subject of an ongoing federal investigation, and either that information either reached Pence or it didn’t. If Pence was out of the loop, he was dangerously incompetent at his job. If Pence knew, and Flynn became National Security Advisor anyway, that’s worse.

Remember, as the turmoil surrounding Flynn grew more serious, the vice president said he was completely unaware of Flynn’s alleged misdeeds. In March, when Fox News asked Pence about Flynn having to register as a foreign agent, Pence said he was hearing the story for the first time.

Except, as Rachel has explained on the show, that’s literally unbelievable. Not only were there multiple news reports for months about Flynn’s foreign work, but Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) wrote to Pence’s transition team to make sure Team Trump was aware of this.

(Benen)

Because, quite frankly, it still cracks me up that once upon a time, when Rubio was fumbling for water, Paul was drowning in plagiarism, and Christie apparently had nothing to do with that bridge, we might have heard Mike Pence’s name whispered as the cyclical dark horse. The Indiana governor, by Republican accounts, was politically savvy and a dedicated conservative. And while others might disagree about the savvy, it seemed for naught when he signed a RFRA and failed to comprehend what happened next. Except, of course, his dramatic revitalization as Donald Trump’s vice presidential candidate, and then vice president. It was easy enough to joke that we might yet see a President Pence.

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The Trump Fantastic (#trumpstyle)

#trippingthetrumpfantastic | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the Central Intelligence Agency, 21 January 2016, in Langley, Virginia. (Photo: Olivier Doulier/Pool/Getty Images)

“Usually, even the laziest of partisans aren’t quite so ridiculous when dealing with the legislative branch’s oversight role over the executive branch.”

Steve Benen

Something goes here about striking decay. And something unfortunate about how that sounds about right. No, really: In what universe?

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A Note on Conservative Values

Kellyanne Conway speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 4 March 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

This is fun. Peter Montgomery, for Right Wing Watch, the day after Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012:

Not only did Obama win big, but voters in Maine and Maryland embraced marriage equality, and Washington seems likely to join them. Minnesota voters rejected a Religious Right-backed attempt to put anti-gay discrimination into the state’s constitution. Tammy Baldwin was elected to the Senate, where she will be the first openly gay member.

Well before all those results were in, it was clear that the night was not going according to what Religious Right leaders had thought was God’s plan. At 10 pm, Tony Perkins and Jim Garlow held a phone call briefing for pastors. It was a very subdued affair, with representatives of the state marriage campaigns trying to sound hopeful about the then-uncalled outcomes in their states. Perkins and Garlow also held a Wednesday webcast on the “aftermath and aftershocks” as the scope of their Election Day drubbing sank in. “The problem in America is sin,” said Garlow. But, he said, “we have no problem that the next Great Awakening cannot solve.”

The tendency after an election defeat to avoid blame by casting it elsewhere was in full flower the day after the election. Rep. Jim Jordan, a Religious Right favorite, described Mitt Romney as “the most liberal Republican nominee in history” who had “waffled” on abortion, had passed a health care bill as governor, and had a hard time convincing conservatives on his commitments on taxing and spending. Perkins criticized Romney for not campaigning on issues of life, marriage, and religious liberty, even though Obama used them to appeal to his base. Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway agreed, saying Republicans had not done enough to draw the contrast on social and “moral” issues. Regarding the marriage wins, Perkins blamed Obama in part, saying the president’s policies have had “a shaping influence on the culture.” He and others also blamed marriage equality proponents’ financial advantage ....

.... Some Religious Right leaders sought solace in faith that God is ultimately in control. “America as we know it may have signed its death warrant tonight,” said Garlow during the pastors’ briefing. But not to worry, he said, nations come and go, but God’s kingdom is forever. Perkins said FRC and its allies would continue to stand strong in the face of “an increasingly hostile culture.”

Others looked forward to the next political fight. Pollster Conway predicted that 2014 would bring, like 2010’s Tea Party wave, a conservative resurgence and called for candidate recruitment to begin now. Perkins agreed that conservatives have never had a stronger “farm team” and touted potential conservative candidates for 2016, including Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, and Mike Pence.

Yes, indeed, a genuine Kellyanne Conway sighting, as the pollster reminded Republicans, as we hear every election, how things would go better if they would just become more misogynistic, homophobic, masculinist, Christianist, supremacist―you now, whatever counts among Republicans as family values and morality. It’s also worth noting, in addition to the farm team standouts, the presence of Tony Perkins of Family Research Council.

It’s just an interesting contrast. Kellyanne Conway, in her role as Donald Trump’s campaign manager, has undoubtedly drawn a contrast on social and moral issues. Mr. Perkins, for his part, was last heard explaining, “My personal support for Donald Trump has never been based upon shared values”.

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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.

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A Clown Car Catastrophe

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 12 June 2015.

To the one, the heart of winter can be rough. To the other, as Seasonal Affective Disorder, a term I generally loathe, turns out to not be what we thought it was, anyway, that doesn’t really explain it.

Which implies it really is true: The GOP nomination contest spectacle debacle has become so depressing even I can’t cope with it.

No, really, if there is a time for whipping out posts as fast as one might, it should be now, as the Clown Car ejector seat puts on a show.

So let’s try, oh, I don’t know, let’s try Donald Trump joking about Marco Rubio’s sweat and Mitt Romney’s bowel control, and then the Florida junior’s retort about Donald Trump’s sweat and bladder control.

That was Friday. I’m pretty sure something important happened over the weekend, but … er … yeah, couldn’t tell you.

(sigh)

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Image note: Detail of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal by Zach Weiner, 12 June 2015

Benen, Steve. “Rubio follows Trump down an undignified road”. msnbce. 26 February 2016.

Garofalo, Michael. “‘He was so scared, like a little frightened puppy’: The 10 most bizarre moments from Trump’s Fort Worth rally”. Salon. 26 February 2016.

Jarrett, Christian. “Why Your Brain Actually Works Better in Winter”. Science of Us. 14 February 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Denial)

Donald Trump speaks at the John Wayne Museum, in Winterset, Iowa, 19 January 2016. (Detail of undated photo by Tannen Maury/epa/Corbis.)

A note from last month:

Last week, presidential candidate Donald Trump caused a minor stir by retweeting someone with the Twitter handle @whitegenocideTM, which some saw as making explicit the connection between Trump and American white supremacists. But that’s just one data point, right? A one-off thing that could have been an intern’s mistake? Unfortunately, no: the data shows that 62 percent of the accounts Trump has retweeted recently have white-supremacist connections.

Marshall Kirkpatrick, of social-media analytics company Little Bird, took a look at the 21 people the Donald has blessed with his fantastic, luxurious retweets this week, and discovered that six of them follow major white-nationalist accounts, and 13 of them follow multiple accounts that have used the #whitegenocide hashtag.

Conclusion? “It turns out that Donald Trump mostly retweets white supremacists saying nice things about him.”

(Hathaway)

This is not surprising.

Unfortunately, that point comes with something of a sickening explanation.

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Your Headline of the Duh

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia testifies before a House Judiciary Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 20, 2010. (Detail of photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The headline from Roll Call we might file as obvious: “Supreme Court Vacancy Could Lead to Even More Gridlock”:

Republicans, including Cruz and Rubio on the Sunday shows, have cited the so-called “Thurmond Rule” in saying the chamber shouldn’t confirm any such nominees in the last year of a president’s term once the presidential race is underway. It’s named after Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., who chaired the Judiciary Committee from 1981 to 1987.

“There is no such thing as the Thurmond Rule,” Senate Judiciary ranking member Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. Leahy cited the Democratic-controlled Senate’s confirmation of several of Republican George W. Bush’s lower court nominees in September 2008 as evidence that there is no such tradition or rule.

Remember, when this stuff finally makes it ’round to the evening news, then the morning infotainment, that we’ve already heard it.

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Image note: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia testifies before a House Judiciary Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 20, 2010. (Detail of photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Dick, Jason. “Supreme Court Vacancy Could Lead to Even More Gridlock”. Roll Call. 14 February 2016.

The Chris Christie Show (Threshold Check)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) speaks at a town hall meeting at the American Legion Dupuis Cross Post 15, 1 July 2015, in Ashland, New Hampshire. (Detail of photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

A question arises: Is there room for Republican presidential candidates to maneuver to the left not so far-right of the GOP platform?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday that Republican primary voters in New Hampshire “should be concerned” about presidential rival Marco Rubio’s position on abortion, suggesting he is out of step with the state’s GOP electorate ....

.... Christie argued Thursday that Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida, supports banning all abortions, including in cases of “rape, incest or life of the mother.” Appearing on NBC, he added, “I think that’s the kind of position that New Hampshire voters would really be concerned about.”

Rubio backs an exception for abortion when the life of the mother is in danger, and would back legislation with allowances for cases of rape and incest — even though he personally doesn’t support those exceptions.

“I understand it’s a difficult issue,” Rubio told reporters Thursday. “But I have to choose between the right of a person to do what they want with their body and the right of an unborn child to live. And I support and defend the right of an unborn child to live.”

(Beaumont)

To the one, it is an interesting threshold check. After all, does this question even exist in the Republican discourse, or, more accurately, to what degree does it matter?

To the other, this is what New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is down to in search of attention for his presidential bid. And even that consideration suggests a thing or three about the state of the GOP: When all else fails, give what traditionally passes for moderation a try.

So, what’s the office pool say? Will “too anti-abortion” fly with Republican voters in New Hampshire? Or should Rubio find a disappointing day would we really attribute it to his abortion policy outlook?

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Image note: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) speaks at a town hall meeting at the American Legion Dupuis Cross Post 15, 1 July 2015, in Ashland, New Hampshire. (Detail of photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Beaumont, Thomas. “Christie: Rubio as out of place in New Hampshire on abortion”. Associated Press. 4 February 2016.

Eisele, Erik. “All (presidential) politics is local”. The Conway Daily Sun. 23 December 2015.

The Marco Rubio Show (Rookie Hijinks)

Detail of photo by Jason Reed/Reuters.

“In essence, not voting for it is a vote against it.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

This is the Marco Rubio Show:

For months, Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio has been dogged by questions about his rampant absenteeism from the Senate. On Friday, the senator from Florida missed another vote. This one stood out more than most―for the legislation’s scope and the extent of Rubio’s criticism of it.

Rubio was one of just two senators who did not vote on on a sweeping tax and spending bill that passed with bipartisan support. His three Republican Senate colleagues running for president each cast votes.

(Sullivan)

The thing is, Mr. Rubio said on Thursday he knew “enough to say we’re going to oppose it, and I know enough to say that we should use every procedural aspect that we have to slow it down and perhaps force some changes on these things that we’ve been discussing”.

Or, as Steve Benen of msnbc put it:

But when Rubio said “we,” he wasn’t referring to himself. In fact, he did not take any steps to pursue his goal: the Republican didn’t show up on Capitol Hill to try to delay the process, and a day later, Rubio also didn’t show up to vote against the bill he wanted to kill.

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The Marco Rubio Show (Second Thoughts)

Sen. Marco Rubio addresses a crowd in Las Vegas, Nevada, 20 December 2015. (Photo: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times)

A murmur arises, via the New York Times:

Inexperience and inattention to detail on the ground can have a tangible cost. Melody Slater is a former Lee County chairwoman for the now-defunct presidential campaign of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Shortly after Mr. Walker dropped out, Mr. Rubio’s campaign announced that Ms. Slater was one of several of Mr. Walker’s backers who had signed on with them.

But now she says she is having second thoughts. “I had three campaigns call me that day―Huckabee, Cruz and Rubio,” Ms. Slater said in an interview, explaining that she agreed to endorse Mr. Rubio only at his campaign’s request. She said she still liked Mr. Rubio and may indeed caucus for him.

But she cautioned that she was also drawn to Mr. Cruz’s Christian values.

“You’ve got to be careful about what you say, don’t you?” Ms. Slater mused.

(Peters)

Madness reigns? Chaos? Something about inexperience, and maybe the bauble of an innovative Iowa ground strategy that has the convenience of being really, really easy for the candidate and also happens to be less expensive?

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