Until yesterday, Rubio was exuding enthusiasm. He promised people that he was going to win his race in Florida. Instead, he was beaten badly by Donald Trump. Rubio had been verbose in his analysis of what the country needed, and last night he extended his analysis to an often heard fatalism about God's will. He said it was "not God's plan that I be president in 2016 or maybe ever." He also asked God to strengthen the Republican Party (God the Republican!).
Whether he believes that Obama's victories in 2008 and 2012 were God's plan he has left unexpressed. But switching to earthly circumstances, Mr. Rubio describes his campaign as having been overwhelmed by an angry mood in the Republican electorate. He said that it had been impossible to repel the long-term political forces powering Mr. Trump. He has described the US as "in the middle of a real political storm – a real tsunami" and that "we should have seen this coming."
He tried. His message was a blend of personal faith, American exceptionalism, compassionate conservatism regarding poverty and education, immigration reform, large across-the-board tax cuts and a hawkish foreign policy in the interest of national security. He is described as establishment candidate in an anti-establishment year and as falling between the cracks between the two. To some he looked a bit weak and nervous during his attempt to be aggressive against Donald Trump, which helped Trump in calling him little Rubio.
A look of strength and toughness is carrying the day. I am biased, of course, and see Rubio as a sincere guy, a good guy, perhaps made so in part by his faith, and fluid in speech with some intelligence and definitely a lot of enthusiasm. He understands struggle and parents sacrificing for their children, but it's not enough. He is sophomoric, and in analyzing realities he is a bit scattered. And one important strength in a president, of course, is an ability to analyze. We need someone in the White House who is more than an emoter-in-chief. We need someone who can analyze their way through problems.
Also, Americans are mostly a people of faith but they have demonstrated a shyness in backing people who are intensely religious. Note Rick Santorum's failed race for the Republican Party's nomination in 2012 – if you can consider Mitt Romney someone with less outward religious intensity than Santorum. (Certainly Trump is less outwardly intense than Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Atheists, of course, are the least popular among political office seekers.)
In addition to attributing his defeat to God's will, Rubio found blame with the "political establishment." In his speech last night he spoke of the Tea Party political wave that he rode into his Senate seat in January 2011 (a wave I submit contained some illusion about non-politicians taking over and doing better than other politicians). Last night Rubio complained that despite the Tea Party's success in 2010 "nothing changed," and he complained that after the "success" in 2014 again nothing changed. This he blamed on the "political establishment" – although the political establishment was what the Tea Party had been running against. Is he saying that the Tea Party's success was their exaggeration? Last night he accused the establishment of having "looked down on conservatives," and found fault with the conservative movement, which he said was "supposed to be about principles and ideas." And said he had been trying the "bridge the gap" between the establishment and principled conservatives. Perhaps he is saying that his attempted compromise with the "political establishment" failed him. Who knows? He also attributed his failure to his principled refusal to take what he considers Donald Trump's low road – which, adding to the confusion, is a way of blaming the voters.
In looking for favorable and unfavorable opinions of Rubio, the following are three separate comments sent to today's New York Times:
I never agreed with his social stance nor how much he would allow religion to affect his decisions, but I liked his optimism and his hope for young men like myself. He was moderate, had strong economic views, great foreign policy but sadly people did not recognize this or just could not trust him. Hopefully as he matures and gets more involved with the Senate he can grow onto people, Democratic and Republican alike.
His youth had nothing to do with it. Rubio will have very little additional wisdom or understanding of issues 10, 20 or 30 years from now.
Rubio got what he deserved. He was too shallow and too glib to ever become the President of the United States.
Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.