James Poulos: Marco Rubio Is a Horrible Failure

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. pauses while addressing the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., Saturday, March 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
AP Photo/Cliff Owen

Columnist James Poulos writes that Marco Rubio, “poster child for the [Republican] party’s hopefulness of audacity has simply failed.” 

From The Week:

As important as it is for Republicans to comprehend why Trump and Cruz have done so well, they could benefit even more from coming to terms with why Rubio has done so poorly. For Trump’s support is a mirror image of the party’s full court press for Rubio.

From the beginning, Rubio was the face of establishmentarianism today, establishmentarianism tomorrow, and establishmentarianism forever. More Dubya-esque even than Jeb, more chipper than even Lindsey Graham, he was, on paper, the perfect dauphin: Change generations and ethnicities, and pow — no further change needed!

It is this flawed conceit that Republican voters have soundly rejected. But as the Rubio campaign floundered, it swam deeper into the depths. Gone was the candidate’s bold but borderline overshare testimony to his faith, replaced by huffy digs at Trump’s equipment. Instead of putting meat on the bones of his vaguely plausible yet deeply absurd claim that nothing matters if we’re not safe, foreign policy substance was substituted with ever more hyped-up rhetoric — flowery talk of Reaganesque optimism doubly unplugged from the state of the party and the state of the nation.

For all his talent and good intentions, Rubio proved that there’s something much worse in this populist season than being born on third and thinking you just hit a triple. However subliminal, his sense of upwardly mobile entitlement was weirdly off-putting and perversely reminiscent of the entitled yes-kid who thinks he should get what he wants because he knows exactly how to give his teachers and school administrators exactly what they want. Rather than embodying the 20th-century Republican story of increase earned through luck and pluck, he became an avatar of the 21st-century striver whose stock in trade is his special snowflakehood.

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