The upcoming presidential election is going to be extremely important for the issues we talk about here. Saturday night's Republican debate was eye-opening.
It started at the 14:35 mark in the video embedded here. Sen. Marco Rubio launched into a criticism of President Obama--he "dispelled" a fiction that no one had brought up in the debate, and his statement garnered applause:
And let's dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country, to make America more like the rest of the world.All well and good. But less than two minutes later, in the middle of answering scathing criticism from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that had nothing to do with the fact that President Obama doesn't know what he's doing, Rubio once again "dispelled" the same fiction he had just discussed:
But I would add this. Let's dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. He is trying to change this country. He wants America to become more like the rest of the world. We don't want to be like the rest of the world, we want to be the United States of America. And when I'm elected president, this will become once again, the single greatest nation in the history of the world, not the disaster Barack Obama has imposed upon us.One minute and 18 seconds later, as if he were caught in a time-warp, Rubio said:
Here's the bottom line. This notion that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing is just not true. He knows exactly what he's doing.It was an embarrassing several minutes. Christie called him on it, made him look foolish, and rattled him. I watch all the debates, and I like Marco Rubio, but unless he's reciting his canned talking points, he's stiff, nervous, and, truth be told, he may not be ready for prime time. Certainly, Christie is a bulldog--one of the toughest debaters we've seen in these debates--and his attack on Rubio has been off-putting to people inclined to root for Rubio. But Christie would not have been able to rattle Rubio's far craftier, far more skilled contemporary, the brilliant Sen. Ted Cruz. Like him or hate him, Cruz can speak fluently off the top of his head all night long about pretty much any subject at issue, and he's unflappable. The contrast with Rubio is striking.