Sen. Marco Rubio hit a home run Tuesday night, but let’s face it, he fell on his face rounding the bases.
It’s been strange to me to hear the indignation in some quarters that the press is covering an obvious and glaring gaffe. Some of the same people who are uncontrollably amused by every bumbling error Joe Biden makes think somehow the MSM is responsible for Rubio’s dessicated tongue.
In case you just got back from a trip to the mountains, this is what we’re talking about:
What’s wrong with Republicans, can’t they stage manage anything anymore? Does it really take a genius to put a glass of water within reach of someone making a 15 minute speech?
Rubio’s water damage is not, as some maintain, a trivial distraction. If Ronald Reagan’s avuncular reassurance and perfect delivery was part of what made him great, then what was this?
Rubio seemed a little stiff, was plucking oddly at his face, and had this pleading, defensive quality that made me think he was going to break out in tears at any moment and wail, Republicans are not bad people, don’t you see? Were he more in command, Rubio would have at least excused himself to take a sip, not look like the artful dodger reaching over to steal an apple from the fruitstand.
Rubio blew it, turning just the type of explanation of conservative values the GOP has been longing for into a national punchline.
Because, what a speech it was. Unlike Mitt Romney, who was forever attempting to surgically attach principles onto his rhetoric to try to prove he was a severe conservative, Rubio delivered the type of remarks that can only come from the heart of someone who truly believes in the values of Goldwater and Reagan.
A couple of notable excerpts:
This opportunity – to make it to the middle class or beyond no matter where you start out in life – it isn’t bestowed on us from Washington. It comes from a vibrant free economy where people can risk their own money to open a business. And when they succeed, they hire more people, who in turn invest or spend the money they make, helping others start a business and create jobs . . .
The truth is every problem can’t be solved by government. Many are caused by the moral breakdown in our society. And the answers to those challenges lie primarily in our families and our faiths, not our politicians . . .
More government isn’t going to help you get ahead. It’s going to hold you back.
More government isn’t going to create more opportunities. It’s going to limit them.
And more government isn’t going to inspire new ideas, new businesses and new private sector jobs. It’s going to create uncertainty . . .
Our strength has never come from the White House or the Capitol. It’s always come from our people. A people united by the American idea that, if you have a dream and you are willing to work hard, nothing should be impossible.
And finally, someone has the guts to buck the conventional wisdom and say this:
This idea – that our problems were caused by a government that was too small – it’s just not true. In fact, a major cause of our recent downturn was a housing crisis created by reckless government policies.
This is a Reaganesque text. It can only come from a person who understands and believes conservative thought, and who, we know, can communicate effectively when he’s not having an off night.
The excuses I’ve heard from Rubio make things worse. “It’d been a long day at work, we’d already done an 18-minute recording in Spanish,” he said.
Well, this was a critical moment for him, and for conservatives. Why didn’t he spend the day at the pool relaxing up with a frozen daiquiri? And why was he giving the speech in Spanish? This isn’t a bilingual country.
Marco Rubio is a talented and thoughtful politician, and he’ll come back from this. But he screwed up a great opportunity.
There will, however, be others.