As the old saying goes, if you're taking flak, you're over the target. The one big knock on Marco Rubio, despite his obvious strengths as a campaigner, has been about his toughness: that he was more Barry Sanders than Emmitt Smith, a dazzling open-field runner who couldn't win at the goal line. That he lacked machismo and swagger. But now that he has successfully decked Donald Trump in a debate by getting in his face and has gone remorselessly on the offensive insulting and belittling Trump - the only way to deal with a bully who can dish it out but can't take it, really - Rubio is taking fire from Democrats and others who are deeply emotionally invested in Trump as the instrument of the GOP's destruction at the hands of Hillary Clinton. The fact that they're headed to the fainting couches at what Rubio is doing is a sure sign that he's doing it right.
This started when Rubio went after Trump in Thursday night's debate; former George W. Bush and Obama pollster Matthew Dowd, who has invested himself very deeply in Trump destroying the GOP and replacing it with something more moderate and centrist, tweeted that John Kasich - who refused every opportunity to criticize Trump - was the real winner, not Rubio or Cruz for finally knocking Trump on his tailbone:
My guess is that if anyone one gained last night it was Kasich. He is the only candidate left trying to be inclusive and optimistic.
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) February 26, 2016
DNC all-spin-zone-er Josh Marshall was likewise sent to his faux fainting couch by the lese majeste of Rubio going hard at Trump, the Democrats' favorite RINO patsy who's so weak he gives money to Democrats to protect his business:
Already campaign roadkill, Rubio gave Trump his ultimate victory today when he decided to rebrand himself as trash talking Trump Jr.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) February 27, 2016
Today, as Rubio went after Trump's vanity by mocking his fake tan, Hillary spox Brian Fallon pretended to think this was bad for Rubio:
Rubio should sue whichever consultant advised him to say this. https://t.co/7bhdMJpcFv
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) February 27, 2016
Obama advisor Dan Pfeiffer joined in the concern-trolling, shedding crocodile tears at the sight of a conservative going after a guy Hillary would walk all over:
Theres a moment in every campaign when the pressure/frustration lead campaigns to do dumb things that feel good, that's where Rubio is now
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) February 27, 2016
Oh noes! Someone might criticize Donald Trump! They might even make him angry! That won't do for Hillary's plan to run against him as a patsy, will it?
Gee, aside from him being a longtime Democratic, Hillary and Clinton Foundation donor, why on earth would Democrats prefer to run against Trump?
Mind you, that's over months of tens of millions of dollars of negative advertising barrages against Rubio from Jeb Bush's Right to Rise SuperPAC, while nobody has even tried to lay a glove on Trump's bottomless pit of negatives and his 58% disapproval rating with the general electorate.
Never to be left out of an anti-anti-Trump argument, Vice-Presidential-candidate-to-the-highest-bidder John Kasich joined in as well:
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 27, 2016
Trump himself roused himself to the greatest heights of class and race snobbery he could drip towards the upwardly mobile son of Cuban immigrants for deigning to think he belongs on the same stage with a guy whose rich father no doubt had nothing to do with him transferring from Fordham into an Ivy League school:
Oy. "The Rubios of the world" couldn't get into Wharton, says Trump, before catching himself and saying Cruz probably could
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 27, 2016
Now, I will freely admit that having watched Rubio for months as a happy warrior and salesman for conservative policy ideas, I would prefer that we have a campaign where he could play by the country-club rules and win on the merits. But this is a street fight, and Rubio is playing to win, with the very existence of the party and the conservative movement at stake. Spare me the vapors at him treating it like winning matters. The fact that Democratic flacks and Republican Quislings don't like him for attacking Trump is proof that he's on the right track in hitting the pompous trust-fund fraud until he bleeds.