February 8, 2016


How Chris Christie exposed Marco Rubio as an untrustworthy pretender (James Poulos, February 8, 2016, The Week)

Marco Rubio was never easy for many of my fellow conservatives to trust. Back in his 2010 Florida Senate race, he was the Tea Party-fueled alternative to Democrat Kendrick Meek and RINO-bot Charlie Crist. Since then, he's changed any number of times, clearly revealing his grand designs on power. With potential like this, who needs integrity?

This dynamic was abundantly clear in Saturday night's GOP debate. Rubio blew it. That conventional wisdom solidified mere minutes after debate's end, and with the New Hampshire primary just days away.

Rubio's Bad Debate (DANIEL LARISON, February 8, 2016, American Conservative)

The exchange with Christie was most damaging for Rubio because it reinforced several criticisms of him at once. He often comes across as excessively scripted, and on Saturday he was so scripted that he seemed incapable of moving away from his rehearsed attack on Obama. He couldn't drop the line even when repeating it confirmed what Christie was saying about him. The line itself was almost Palinesque in its phrasing ("let's dispel with this fiction"), and showed a certain desperation that Rubio doesn't usually display on stage. When Rubio is prepared for an attack, he can usually deflect it easily with a memorized retort as he did against Bush last year, but when he's caught off guard as he was Saturday he doesn't know what to do. He also tried to counter-attack and said that Christie had to be "shamed" into returning home during the recent snowstorm, which prompted a loud chorus of boos from the audience. He was hit hard, and then wasn't able to hit back effectively. Rubio's critics have long considered him overrated, and on Saturday the debate audience got to see a little of why we think so.

Rubio has been treated so favorably in the media for so long that he isn't accustomed to being challenged as directly as Christie challenged him, and he doesn't seem to handle scrutiny and criticism all that well. Furthermore, Rubio retreated to his talking points because he was being challenged on the thinness of his record in the Senate. He had to fall back on his anti-Obama lines because he doesn't have a significant legislative record that he can cite in his defense.

One of the particularly appalling aspects of groupthink is the tendency to dismiss any criticism as mere partisan attack.
Posted by at February 8, 2016 3:10 PM