Thursday night’s Republican primary debate held promise, if only because Donald Trump and his antics would be absent. The Donald was apparently worried that Megyn Kelly would give him cooties, or, ya know, ask him substantive questions. With the carnival barker absent, this was an opportunity for the presidential hopefuls to demonstrate their gravitas and qualifications.
There was a chorus of conservative voices excited about Senator Marco Rubio afterwards, and that excitement wasn’t necessarily misplaced. Relative to the rest of the folks on the stage, Rubio didn’t do terribly. That said, not doing terribly on a stage full of absurdity isn’t saying much. There was one instance, in particular, that deserves a point-by-point analysis of the nonsense.
The eye rolls start early here, as Christ Almighty is invoked in the name of poll points:
BAIER: Now let’s talk about electability, Senator. TIME magazine once called you “the Republican savior.” Rush Limbaugh and others said you likely will be president some day.
But if you look at the recent average of polls in your home state of Florida, you’re in third trailing Donald trump by 24 points. If the people who know you best have you there, why should the rest of the country elect you?
RUBIO: Well, let me be clear about one thing, there’s only one savior and it’s not me. It’s Jesus Christ who came down to earth and died for our sins.
Talk about blatant pandering. He was ready for that one, and took advantage of a moment to bang that Bible hard.
But you know what, if we’re looking at a comparison to Christ, Rubio is definitely right that he doesn’t fit the bill. An unapologetic capitalist who takes pride in discriminating against members of the LGBT community, wants to send all immigrants packing, and thinks he knows more than women about what they should or should not do with their bodies, he couldn’t be further from the man he’s praising.
Anyway, let’s continue.
RUBIO: And so — and I’ve always made that clear about that cover story.
As far as the polls are concerned, Iowa, on Monday night you’re going to go to a caucus site and you’ll be the first Americans that vote in this election. You will be the first Americans that get to answer the fundamental question, what comes next for this country after seven disastrous years of Barack Obama?
Disastrous, eh? That’s quite the statement. What’s happened over the past 7 years? What has Obama done?
- Passed legislation allowing millions of unemployed and underemployed college grads to retain insurance coverage under their parents’ policies.
- Decreased the rate of uninsured adults to 11.9%.
- Implemented a healthcare policy that cost billions less than originally anticipated while extending insurance to those who need it most.
- Ordered an audit of all government contracts to combat waste and abuse.
- Pulled the economy back from the brink after Wall Street kneecapped Main Street through domestic and international interventions.
- Created five times as many jobs than George W. Bush in 2010 alone, with the unemployment rate dropping below the historical average.
- Eliminated “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
- Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.
- Appointed more openly gay officials than anyone in history.
- Appointed the first openly transgender cabinet official in history.
- Issued an order requiring hospitals to allow visitation by same-sex couples.
- Named the first woman as chair of the Federal Reserve.
- Banned all federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.
- Pushed reforms to drug sentencing guidelines.
- Successfully leveraged sanctions and diplomacy to reign in Iran’s nuclear program.
- Closed a number of secret military detention facilities.
- Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any previous president within the first six months in office.
- Ended the F-22 program — related to aircraft never actually flown in battle — saving $4 billion.
- Banned “enhanced interrogation” — aka torture — on his second day in office.
- Opened the first embassy in Cuba in over 55 years while building improved relations with the nation.
- Killed Osama Bin Laden.
- Passed the largest spending increase in 30 years for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, including a $4.6 billion expansion for mental health services.
- Doubled federal spending on clean energy research.
- Decreased dependence on foreign oil to its lowest rate since 1985.
- Nominated judicial superheroes Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.
- Eliminated funding for abstinence-only education and eliminated the global gag rule.
- Issued executive orders to promote smart gun technology and require more robust background checks for those seeking to purchase a gun.
But Rubio didn’t stop there.
And let me tell you what the answer better not be. It better not be Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is a socialist. I think Bernie Sanders is good candidate for president… of Sweden.
We don’t want to be Sweden. We want to be the United States of America.
The U.S. becoming more like Sweden? OH THE HORROR! You know what some of the differences are when you live in Sweden instead of the U.S. are?
- You’re 91.83% less likely to be in prison.
- You have 11.26% more free time.
- You experience 48.89% less of a class divide.
- You consume 45.01% less oil.
- You spend 40.2% less on healthcare.
- You’re 76.32% less likely to be murdered.
- You’re 57.86% less likely to die in infancy.
- You’re likely to live 2.33 years longer.
- You’re 83.33% less likely to be HIV positive.
- Your GDP per capital is 7% higher.
- Your inflation rate is 66% lower
- You’re five times less likely to be obese.
- Your country’s carbon dioxide emissions per capita will be three times less.
- Your country will have actually held their banks accountable for their contributions to 2008 and bounced back faster than the rest of the nations hit hard.
Sounds like a terrible place, right?
But let’s put aside the Sweden thing for a second, and talk about this whole socialist drum that Rubio and others have been banging. The problem with banging said drum is that they have no idea what they’re talking about.
For starters, Sanders isn’t a pure socialist; he’s a democratic socialist. He’s spoken openly on the subject in the past, but the short version is this: democratic socialism refers to a political system whereby citizen contributions generate services and infrastructures that provide public benefit and a higher quality of life, and economic regulation that addresses income inequality and fraud while continuing to encourage innovation.
In short, it’s sort of what we’re trying — poorly — to do with our current structure. Sanders wants to take the nation to the next level. Rubio can take issue with that, but he’s only muddying the conversation at this particular point.
Sanders wasn’t his only target. He couldn’t not take aim at Clinton, of course.
And Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton is disqualified from being the commander-in-chief of the United States. In fact, one of her first acts as president may very well be to pardon herself because Hillary Clinton…
Hillary Clinton stored classified information on her private server. And Hillary Clinton lied to the families of those four brave Americans who lost their life in Benghazi. And anyone who lies to the families of Americans who have died in the service of this country can never be commander-in-chief of the United States.
Alright, he’s got a little bit of traction here. There’s a strong case to be made that Clinton could and should be brought up on charges for the email fiasco, but in this political environment, it’s just not going to happen. But lying to the families of those killed in Benghazi? Rubio is once again wandering into la-la land on that one, repeating the bedtime stories the GOP has been reciting for years now. How many committees must be convened to put that myth to bed?
It may seem a little silly to spend all this time scrutinizing Rubio, especially so small a chunk of his speaking time the other night. But even though the polls aren’t looking great for him right now, and even though Rubio himself shirks from the label, he may well be the savior for the GOP when it comes down to it. He’s young, he’s a solid orator, he’s improving in the debates, he’s more substantive than many of the other candidates, he’s got a much better collaborative track record in Congress, and carries far less baggage than many in the field. He’s still extreme, but compared to the folks he’s going up against, he looks positively moderate.
That’s why scrutinizing his nonsense matters. Don’t get lulled into thinking he’s “not that bad.” He is. You just need to pay attention to see it.