Marco Rubio Flunks A Gut Check: He’s Unqualified To Be President (Too)

empty podium

Last night in Nevada, as the depressing vote totals poured in showing that Nevada Republicans, or at at least about 45% of them, have the minds of desert toads and the ethics of Vegas Strip pimps, (that is, really want Donald Trump to be President of the United States of America, Peewee Herman having chosen not to compete, journalists waited to see what Marco Rubio, supposedly the choice of the GOP “establishment,” would say in his concession speech. He didn’t give one, however. Fox News reported that “the Senator has gone to bed.”

That’s it. That’s signature significance, conduct that all the spin in the world cannot reconcile with a man having the requisite character and values to lead a nation. Rubio has a nice face, a good personal story, a polished speaking style and, most of all, ambition, and until last night, an opportunity. With that weak, lazy and pusillanimous demonstration, Senator Rubio proved conclusively that this is all he has. It’s not enough; it’s not nearly enough. As much as I and any sane and responsible American citizen want someone to block Donald Trump’s frightening march to the Republican nomination, Marco Rubio is no alternative.

I have, apparently foolishly, not allowed all of the many warning signs regarding Rubio’s leadership skills and character to cause me to label him a lost cause. Early on, he proved himself unable to handle his campaign finances ethically or competently. As a Florida state senator, he abused his power and engaged in a scandalous conflict of interest. As a U.S. Senator elected by a tea party surge, he showed himself to be feckless and expedient. He has also been a lousy Senator, seldom showing up for votes. When he began running for President, Rubio even stated that he hated being a Senator, and abandoned any pretense of doing his job—but he continued to collect his salary, because, he said, he needed the money.

While his chief rival, Donald Trump, worked—yes, it is work—around the clock to get in front of cameras and on the air as often as possible, Rubio adopted a minimalist campaign style, never going off script, seldom subjecting himself to interviews where he would have to improvise answers and actually think. Rubio’s debate performances were entirely dependent on whether he could use portions of his stump speech to answer questions. When a skilled ex-prosecutor, Chris Christie, placed him under cross-examination for this weakness, Rubio devolved into an old Star Trek episode computer, repeating the same programmed phrase as metaphorical smoke billowed out of his ears. Then he ducked accountability for his meltdown, insisting that he was just staying on message, until his advisors finally convinced him that denial wasn’t working.

With all of that, in part because of utter desperation, journalists, Republicans and Americans who are horrified at the prospect of having no better candidates to choose from than the delusional Bernie Sanders, the corrupt and dishonest Hillary Clinton, and the vile and inexperienced Ted Cruz, continued to hope that Rubio could rise above his obvious flaws and be someone with the capacity to grow into leadership.

That hope, always faint anyway, is gone now. Not one of the other Presidential candidates would have willfully avoided the opportunity to give a defiant and inspiring concession speech that would be played on the networks and cable channels repeatedly today. Indeed, not one of them could have been stopped from giving such a speech. Nor would any of the past Presidents or unsuccessful but nominated candidates for the office within my lifetime. Why is Rubio different?

He’s a coward, for one thing. (Teddy Roosevelt once gave a campaign speech after he had been shot in the chest!) He is unable to control his emotions and demeanor under stress, so he ducked the cameras and the pressure.  If  Rubio didn’t know this would look terrible, he’s too stupid to be President, but since he undoubtedly did know (How many advisors must have told him,“Senator, you have to go out there!”?) and still couldn’t muster the resolve and determination to lead in the face of defeat, we now know that Marco Rubio would roll over and put the pillow over his head when that 3 AM phone call beckens.

It’s as simple as this: weenies can’t be Presidents, and last night, Marco Rubio proved that he’s a weenie.

There is all sorts of speculation over what was going on in Rubio’s head. Ann Althouse even had a reader poll on it. Her choices:

  • They said he went to bed, so I assume he was just very sleepy.
  • As they said on TV, “he as a lot of work to do between now and super Tuesday.”
  • He was so distraught, he was unpresentable, not camera-ready.
  • There was no way to do it without congratulating Trump, which he resists.
  • He saw that Trump now has the nomination, so there’s nothing left for him to do.
  • He’s now the voice of the GOP elite, and these people never know what to say

…none of which is the real reason. Marco Rubio is an empty suit, a small man with the ambition to be President without the qualities of character leadership requires. One theory is that he doesn’t want to aggressively oppose Trump, because he thinks he could be Trump’s vice-president. That’s disgusting, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true. Not after last night.

One of the early disillusioning moments of my political life came in 1968, when I became an admirer of Senator Eugene McCarthy. It wasn’t that I agreed with him on everything, but I was impressed with his honesty, humor and clarity of thought. His bold protest candidacy changed the national debate, but as the Democratic Convention turned into raw power maneuvering inside and violence outside, it was obvious that Hubert Humphrey would be the nominee.

Gene had an opportunity to speak to the throng and a live TV audience, and an obligation to, if only to offer some closure to the many young citizens who had knocked on doors and handed out pamphlets, if only to make an inspiring statement—and he could make a great one–to give the young protesters getting their heads beaten in by Mayor Daley’s cops that night hope that there were still politicians with integrity who might prevail some day, some time. But McCarthy never came down to the convention floor, even as his advisers urged him to (“Senator, you have to go out there!”). It was at that moment, or non-moment, that I realized that Eugene McCarthy, for all his admirable traits and skills, wasn’t qualified to lead a nation, or, as it turned out, even a movement.

I still admired McCarthy, and once, by pure luck, had the chance to sit next to him, just the two of us, at big round table during a U.S. Chamber of Commerce luncheon. He was friendly, witty and unguarded, and I desperately wanted to ask him the question that had been bothering me since that August night in 1968: “Why didn’t you give the speech, Senator? Why?” He had never answered that question, after all the intervening years, and never did.

I was the weenie that time; I couldn’t ask it. Besides, I knew the answer.

Still, after last night, I would vote for Gene McCarthy before I would vote for a hollow, cowardly. lazy fraud like Marco Rubio.

And McCarthy has been dead for nine years.


66 thoughts on “Marco Rubio Flunks A Gut Check: He’s Unqualified To Be President (Too)

  1. Can we vote for an interregnum in the executive?

    Ugh. I’ve often likened this turning point in our nation’s history to similarities to the conflict between Caesar and Pompey…

    Though not a perfect analogy (as Caesar’s issues were late in the collapse of the Roman Republic, not early), every time I see the next best contender to halt the looming disaster, I see more parallels….

    This bow out by Rubio is like a shadow of Cato after Utica…

  2. As far as I can see, there are no perfect candidates for president, neither in this cycle nor in past cycles that I can recall, neither Democrat nor Republican. And because of the abundance of candidates, we get to see lots of flaws and lots of highly choreographed styles that may or may not be real.

    Having said this, and not to specifically defend Rubio, I think you are being excessively judgmental based on too much of a superficial and passing incident. (Maybe Rubio will reveal more serious mistakes in the coming weeks. Maybe not.)

    Recall, the public fascination and adulation of then presidential candidate Obama as his candidacy was catching fire based on the superficial, vague and hollow rhetoric of “hope and change” delivered with teleprompter eloquence. For the past 7 years now, he has been our president!

    Somebody has got to be sworn in as president in January of 2017. One would hope that it will be a reasonably honest, ethical and competent individual. I do not expect that the next president will be perfect, but I do expect and hope that the American people will somehow chose the least flawed of the many flawed options and that the next four to eight years will brighter for all of the American people than the past seven were.

    • This isn’t superficial at all, and I think I pretty clearly explained why. If he was being held at gunpoint, he would have told us by now. He’s a child.

      Saying that someone has to be President doesn’t make unqualified candidates qualified. The parties have an obligation to vet these people and give the public a minimally acceptable choice. Rubio, Cruz, Trump, Clinton and Sanders are beyond redemption. In Rubio’s case, there is no quality or factor that argues for his election other than his being alive, able to speak in complete sentences (unlike, say, Trump) and sort of a Senator….and being of Hispanic heritage, which is nice. Those don’t begin to outbalance his well-proven flaws.

  3. I really miss Chris Christie in this campaign; I think the GOP missed a clear opportunity to win the 2016 Presidential election with a middle of the ground kind of Republican candidate and take the USA down a path of prosperity. I didn’t agree with everything he said or done (just like every other candidate) but the majority of his views are similar to mine; he is very presidential, he is very qualified, he is competent, he is sincere, and I believe him to be honest.

    I will never under any circumstances vote for Trump, Clinton, or Sanders.

    My hopes are dwindling like the hopes of the residents of Pompeii watching Mt. Vesuvius erupting.

    • Agreed. One of my biggest reasons I had hopes for Christie was how Sandy was handled, with bi-partisan interaction. ‘Playing well with others’ has become a leading criteria, and the current leaders are really scant with that.

      • At this point in time I think the Republican ticket will likely be Trump-Palin and I think that ticket would beat a Sanders-Anyone ticket in a close election or loose dramatically to a Clinton-Anyone ticket.

        It rapidly becoming the perfect time in USA political scene for someone perceived as a non party affiliated independently minded “centrist” to slap down the extreme wings of both political parties and rise to the top of the political scene and win the White House; if not 2016, maybe in 2020 (if we still exist).

        • You do realize that, generally speaking, Trump is a centrist. There is nothing in his political history (before pandering to populist sentiments as an electioneering tactic) that would imply he’s anything but a centrist. He has managed to flush the populist right with his rhetoric and demeanor, but he is an independently minded centrist.

          (And jackass)

            • Which means, he’s a Hillary… He’ll do whatever he needs to do… And d that generally means when the rhetoric hits the policy makers, politicians of that bent do whatever the majority wants. Which will tend centrist.

              He’s just capitalized on a frustrated and self-revealed idiot base. I’d submit if he’d ran as a democrat and spouted democrat memes he’d be just as popular.

            • Jack Marshall said, “He has no ideology. Just the ends justify the means.”

              Since I simply no longer believe that what Trump is portraying is actually what Trump believes; I can’t truly identify what Trump thinks “the ends” are.

            • They are both wildly unqualified for high office, and have proven so beyond a reasonable doubt. Hence, it is not “time” to elect them. Or did I understand YOUR comment? The problem is that whether you are right or not, those tow do not fit the bill you are writing.

              • No wonder I couldn’t figure out what you were trying to say. I think you incorrectly assumed that my second paragraph was implying that Trump-Palin were those “independently minded “centrist”” that I was talking about which is not even close to the mark. Trump-Palin are both extremist; Palin is clearly a ideological Tea Party wing-nut extremist and Trump – well let’s just say he’s an extremist because he doesn’t fit the mold for anything remotely ideological.

                I probably should have separated the paragraphs into two completely separate comments to make a clear separation between the paragraph topics that way it would have been less likely to relate them to each other. My bad.

  4. Unfortunately we have some pretty limited choices this time out. If you pronounce none of them fit to lead, then it sounds like this nation is doomed.

  5. Welcome to reality everyone. As much as it may turn your stomach into knots, the only responsible choice this Fall is going to be Hillary Clinton.

    Not that I don’t have great ideas for Trump. For e.g., CLEARLY, he has to name a VP candidate with the last name of Card. Agreed? I mean, the jokes write themselves. Also, I’ve changed my mind. President Obama does need to put off nominating a SCOTUS Judge, but not for any reasons discussed here. You just know that Trump would nominate Judge Judy, am I right? He now knows that stupid Americans like authoritarian-ish reality TV stars. Heck, Trump probably would get widespread popular support for a Judge Judy nomination. And you know that “TRUMP” will be put in sparkly gold neon letters on the White House, the White House Xmas tree, AND the wall between the US and China.

    God Bless America.

    • US and China? Wow, that was some mis-typing on my part. Hmmm — never mind, leave in the typo Jack. Trump just might want to try and build a wall in the middle of the Pacific.

    • Pump the brakes…I’m yet to be convinced that Hillary is the least irresponsible choice. To be clear, calling her the responsible choice is false.

      If I evaluated the candidates and said Hillary is worth 1.5 points, Trump is worth 1.45 points and Sanders is worth 1.3 points. (Just so you understand the scale, George Washington is like 95 points, and I’m afraid that my evaluation of that triumvirate there is dangerously high).

      Saying “Hillary is the best option” doesn’t quite capture the problem.

      As a final note, I don’t know if the ratings should be .45 (out of 100) Hillary to .44 Trump or .44 Hillary to .45 Trump. When things get that microscopic, it is TOO hard to tell which option sucks worse.

      • Always with the semantics Tex. Personally, I don’t care if you want to call Clinton the “most responsible” choice or “least irresponsible” choice. At the end of the day, you have to cast your vote for Clinton. At least we know who she is, warts and all. But we can’t say the same thing about Trump. He hasn’t articulated a single policy position! And, your rating of Trump is untrustworthy because it has a margin of error of plus or minus 99%. Personally, I am unwilling to flip a coin with him when a bad result would be catastrophic. At least with Hillary, your party has a chance to survive, regroup, and try again in four years.

      • My plan is to vote for Kasich in the primary — if he’s still in the race at that time, but my guess is that he will have dropped by then.

    • Wait—I don’t think Hillary is a responsible choice in any way. Choosing Hillary over the alternatives is more responsible than choosing one of them, that’s all That’s a material distinction. For example, would voting for a 38 year-old auto mechanic with no criminal record and a state college education for President be responsible? No. If he were the only one between Donald Trump and the White House, would voting for an irresponsible choice be not merely justified, but mandatory? Yes.

      Other objectively irresponsible choices that would nonetheless be more responsible than voting for Trump:

      Joe Biden
      Newt Gingrich
      Kate Upton
      Barry Bonds
      Ronda Rousey
      Chris Rock
      Momo the Worm Man
      Honey Boo Boo’s mother
      Miss Piggy
      The Martin Luther King Memorial

      • It doesn’t matter how you qualify it, you’ll still be voting for Hillary in November.

        Wait, the new Miss Piggy or the old Miss Piggy? That may make a difference in my book. Also, I would vote for Trump over Honey Boo Boo’s mother — she’s heinous.

        • You may be right about Honey Boo Boo’s mom. I got carried away.

          I still think either Trump or Hillary, or both, will be derailed, somehow.

          I also think anyone who assumes Trump would lose to Hillary is making a big mistake.

          • I think there’s a BIG chance Trump might stomp Hillary into the ground. She’s too used to people bowing and scraping and catering to her. He would be the opposite and I don’t think she is equipped to handle it.

            • I still remember Hillary and her press friends making poor Rick Lazio look like a bully in a debate when he dared invade her space. I am not sure what will be more entertaining — a Trump/Hillary debate or the press reaction the next day.

  6. Question:
    As I understand the US system – and I freely admit I don’t – the electoral colleges actually determine who gets the nomination, and that at least once in the past they ignored the choice of the voters on the ground and nominated someone else. Is that anywhere near close?

    So Question two is; who could either party put up, out of the blue, that would fit the bill?

    In Australia we have compulsory voting, and a fine if you don’t vote. I’m sure you would consider that an infringement of your freedom, as do many here. What many people do when they don’t like any candidate is to cast an invalid vote by marking the ballot in some unacceptable way, up to and including making an obscene remark about all the candidates and the supposed unmarried status of their parents!

    This always annoys me, as does not turning up to vote in the US. Why; if you had an electorate with two candidates and 100 voters and 97 of the voters didn’t show or cast an invalid vote each candidate would immediately ask: “who did the other person vote for?”

    The only responsible way to protest vote in such a case is to vote for someone who has no chance of winning. You are then publicly voting against the winner and it makes it impossible for them to claim they have a mandate for their lunacy.

    Thankfully Australia has not yet degenerated to the hopeless position you face in November! Unfortunately your politics does have an effect on us here. I’m in dread.

    • The rules keep changing, in both parties. The Electoral College has nothing to do with it. Each state sends a delegation, and the candidate who gets a majority of the delegates wins. Who are the delegates? It depends—elected officials, party officials, activists, hacks. In the old days, the delegates just met and voted until someone won, with everyone making deals and strong arming. Then primaries came in that allotted some delegates, not all, by a public vote. After McGovern had a Bernie-like ride to the nomination and lost in landslide, the Democrats started having uncommitted delegates that could, maybe, out vote those chosen by the primaries. Delegates in both parties, last I checked, are only committed to vote for a particular candidate on the first ballot, and after that they can switch. That throws it into the old-fashioned brokered convention mode. The last time a convention went beyond one ballot was in 1952. Several might have been brokered if a few things broke differently.

  7. Hillary’s as corrupt and unprincipled as they come. Her “experience” is shifting her positions to whatever will get her the most money (see “peddling her ass to Middle Eastern governments to pad her Foundation’s coffers” and “gay marriage flipflop”). She has no principles other than “Give it to me, I put up with Bill’s shit for half a century, you owe me.” You’d vote for her over Cruz? Seriously?

    • I’m not arguing against any of that about Hillary. It’s true and worse.

      Cruz is a cold-eyed Machiavellian who has cheated whenever it served his purpose, and adds his theocratic garbage to the mix …and he has no executive experience at all. I wouldn’t trust him to wield any power at all.

      • Cruz might be a machivellian but I don’t agree that he has no executive experience. He chairs two Senate subcommittees. He hasn’t ran a business to my knowledge or been a state governor but looking at Trump’s business experience and nefarious ways, I’d rather have Cruz as POTUS any day.

        • 1) He might be a Machiavellian?
          2) I never wrote, nor do I believe, that Cruz isn’t better than Trump. Anyone and anything is better than Trump, Cruz included. I could not be clearer on this.
          3) At least Cruz is smart. Trump is Fredo: “I’m smart!”

  8. He’s an unqualified candidate to be president. What has he ever done or accomplished that makes him worthy for even running for president?

    He’s good at memorizing answers to questions and pronouncing the words to the memorized answers clearly. He’s the quintessential example of the phrase “all talk no action.”

    He’s way over his head running for President and because of his running, a more qualified candidate in Jeb bush got left out.

    This guy is all ego. Win governor of Florida and accomplish something there, then in 8 years you can try again so You have an actual record and not just memorized pointless dreamer talk.

    • You can’t blame Jeb’s failure on Trump. He was a terrible candidate, did not project strength, said stupid things, and couldn’t even answer a simple question about his brothers call in Iraq, which he had to know was coming. Offering to be the third in a line of mediocre Presidents with the same name was not much of a platform.

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