Following his much touted debate “win” where his tag teaming rival Cruz chose a nearly equally attacking approach with more substance and mature rhetorical style in the spirit of a prosecutor, Rubio has since (admirably, on the surface) ratcheted up the rhetoric to dizzying heights. Unfortunately, that plan is taking an immature turn, on which I will elaborate and compare to that found in the recent debate.
The plan is simple.
Rubio wants to win (as he has been recently) late deciding low information voters at the expense of rival Cruz. He realizes that prior to getting a chance on March 15 to win his own state, facing the prospect of needing to stop the momentum of Trump and even Cruz before he even arrives at the day of vote casting in FL, that he must pile up delegates in various ST states in the most realistic way.
Winning even a state may be out. Since several are proportional allocation, if he can be maximally competitive in the lot of them, he can beat Cruz on several 2nd place finishes, hoping to keep chipping away at the argument used by Cruz that he is the only person to BEAT Donald in a primary vote referring to Iowa.
Cruz has been sucking some wind lately, and he’s going all out to save a win in TX by making several stops there in the final push into ST, despite his lead of double digits there in some recent polls. He might find himself in third in several states, which would provide further reason for voters to consider Rubio as the anti-Trump to finally coalesce around.
Cruz will be able to argue for going on he hopes, even with just winning clearly TX, because then he will claim he’s beat Trump in TWO states, the first one, and the most important ST prize, to try to steal momentum. If Cruz gets lucky, and he might in OK or TN, etc. and even beats Trump or places a clear 2nd over Rubio in addition to the all important gain of TX outright, that helps.
Enter the debate.
Rubio was widely seen as the winner, but a closer look shows Cruz can claim the real win. He approached the attacks on Donald in a more adult way, and did not interrupt much and used on topic jabs of substance. He refuted him in a masterful way.
In contrast, Rubio played for the sound bite clips of short, memorable insults, but they were mostly ad hominem with an emphasis on personalizing the target and pointing at him with a grin and laugh, not really professional but effective in our short attention span society.
His response on the wealth of Trump and how he gained it, suggesting he would be selling watches in Manhattan was cute, but essentially a pointless bit of punching bag sophistry.
He then turned the Robot Rubio attack around, with a claim that just tried to refute the attack by accusing his accuser of doing the same. That substantively was hardly a logically effective response, but certainly an efficient jab to deflect his own failure.
I could go on, but the basic point is while effective on the surface, most of the “attacks” where laced (intentionally) with an attempt make Trump look like a joke candidate, but done in a lighthearted way. This is the calling card of Trump, who more crudely always tries in this election to dehumanize and reduce the stature of his rivals with repetitive cheap shot tactics.
Rubio had been openly criticized for not ever seriously going after Trump, so he realized time had run out to not go nuclear. His operatives likely intentionally head faked the media into the debate, making it look like the target would be Cruz, who they had successfully slowed down with character attacks with assists from Trump and Carson.
Cruz waited ages to attack, too, but in recent weeks he had been hitting him, though not like the severe barrage seen in the debate where Rubio did likewise. He has always done so, even in that debate, with a classy dignity and a consist response to reporters that he will not respond in kind to personal attacks with other ones.
The reason for the personal approach by Rubio was of course quite intentional.
The calculus was and is if you want to beat the bully and become the last standing Alpha Male, you need to get down and dirty if need be to get under his skin. The idea is cold blooded enough on the surface as being tempting, but it’s not that simple Marco.
You can attack and even be personal in a valid, mature, and informative way (Cruz) or you can choose to play for the news cycle oxygen which you (sadly rightly) conclude is not coming your way without resorting to increasingly visceral cheap shots?
The urge to get the media to cover you, given the way they have obsessed over every Trump utterance, is quite tempting.
But not if the price, which Rubio wrongly concludes to be short term flak, is alienating people like me and others in the general who don’t know him being replayed clips of him going into the gutter in immature, inappropriate ways that are totally contrary to his reputation and theme of his run, that of uniting everyone and being above attacking others, etc.
I know what many of you, especially giddy Rubio backers, are saying/thinking.
You think, “he has to do this, it’s the ONLY way, I cannot blame him for the Hail Mary, the ends justify the means” etc.
But stop and think for a moment.
Who is more presidential, Rubio or Cruz? Who is making these same arguments without saying things we would be embarrassed to allow our children to hear and see? What does this say about Rubio? Opportunism? Saying anything to win for personal gain?
What Rubio is now doing, is accusing Trump of pants wetting, having a small penis by implication language, being a dog chasing a car, attacking his hair, orange coloring, his age, his hand/finger formation attributes and on and on.
These are starting to hurt Rubio’s image as being a credible candidate who is mature enough with consistent character to be the American president. These comments cannot be erased, and the media is noticing and even some of his supporters are being turned off. Several feel it’s a sad necessity, but it may not be worth it.
Cruz has taken a higher approach, talking about working class and poor with conservative solutions. I’m so proud that he has not gone into the juvenile approach to try force the media to respond with negative coverage on the theory that all press is good press, even bad press, due to the exposure factor.
Folks, if Rubio’s approach works, it proves what many suspect, which is that most voters, not merely some, are low information idiots that only respond to immediate stimuli. If they only care about which interrupter wins the point, we might as well stop having elections. In this age of American Idol, we are producing a nation of idiots that are not qualified to vote, at all.
You don’t base your decision on who insults who the most in the most childish way involving personal visceral approaches that are not relevant to issues. You begin calling him a “clown” which is silly enough, but then it becomes just childish and petty.
You vote on character and leadership, and a man imitating Rubio over his water gaffe by hurling water, calling him names and trying to reduce his stature as a human being, is not qualified. But Rubio cannot claim to be either if he responds by imitating Trump almost to the letter, insisting he’s just doing whatever is needed to eventually be able to talk about the issues and substance.
You talk about that from beginning to end.
You respond to his low road with total Hellfire, but with class, not with crude potty break language that Hillary will use to make you, one of the best charismatic options we’ve had in years, to be the lightweight people have accused you of.
If we have to use this break all the furniture approach without choice, due to Trump, it shows we have already lost society, the one that supported that clown against all logic and respect for their own citizens. And, it shows that we will lose the general election once this narrative of the Trump alternative is portrayed mocking him (even indirectly) over the size of his penis. You don’t attack people on principle in this way. You don’t go into the gutter, because the gutter comes back to dirty up you.
It’s valid to suggest Trump is a con man. It’s valid to attack over possible racist leanings and ties, because information is out there and accelerating to suggest more may be there. He did know David Duke, so he’s already lied. Marco and Ted take note! Trump is being destroyed over these comments this morning on MSNBC who found quotes on him admitting knowing Duke.
Now, a link was posted to an article showing a possible connection of Trump and his father to discrimination against Blacks. He needs to be vetted for his lawsuits, possible connections to mob influence, etc. He can be exposed as phony without cheap shots.
There are all sorts of ways to directly and devastatingly attack Trump on his character, positions, etc. as Cruz is showing.
But if we feel we have to do this, which will poison all of us even if we beat Trump for the nomination, we already lose. We cannot submit to the stupid voter by cynically throwing in the cultural towel over an aberration candidate like Trump that reflects an American Idol generation of persons not to be trusted with voting rights.
Already the narrative to beat Trump in the general election over racism and possible ties to racist groups is being bandied about by Julian Castro, a Democrat congressman who many think may be HRC’s Veep choice. It will be easy to for the left to win when the Democrats already have an election map edge in terms of the critical battleground states, and they do. What are likely to be 100K margins in OH and FL are easy pickings for HRC if she faces this damaged “Mussolini” candidate in November.
Marco may eventually edge out Cruz by later votes in states that are winner take all, and that are more moderate leaning. If eh stays in to the convention, with or without Cruz, he will have by that time ruined his own image of the high road. He will arrive not able to argue he’s the uniting Republican with class and dignity that cares about people of all classes. And he will have damaged himself. Any candidate arriving in November will harm himself with his case of being a plausible presidential choice.
That’s why I still suggest we rally around Cruz, who has the only realistic momentum chance with another state win in the cards, and on par finishes and some possible second placers over Rubio in some of the ST states. He’s the best candidate, the most consistently conservative, and we don’t have to shower afterward over his approach and can be proud of his focus on issues while still going after Donald on substance.
His longer term strategy can work. If we just have enough faith and patience, Donald is already being destroyed in the media over the racist angle, and soon SOME of that support will bleed and go to Cruz, not Rubio, given the war of words and other factors that we know make him a second choice of Trump voters. Rubio exiting helps Cruz more than the reverse, because several Cruz voters will vote for Trump instead than equivalently from Rubio.
We need a candidate who can win later who is a top flight debater to go one on one with HRC. That means Cruz. We need a candidate that has beaten Trump more than once, and that is also likely to be Cruz. He is the best funded and best organized.
What we don’t need is to continue splitting votes which will make no real opposition possible even as Trump limps to the nomination. We need to rally behind a Trump alternative that we know has played the longer term game with diligence. We cannot afford to just accept a brokered convention that is sure to be tricky and hurt feelings laden, if not totally necessary.
When you vote tomorrow, make it for Ted Cruz.