Why Rubio Struck Out

Marco Rubio’s 2016 Presidential campaign is over. Under-performing from the start, never able to get real traction and command serious attention from either the media or Republican Party insiders, Rubio vacated his Florida Senate seat to embark on a fool’s errand, chasing a ghost he never had any chance of capturing.

Going in, it looked better: If there was ever a prototypically-perfect Republican candidate for a normal election cycle, Rubio was certainly it:

  • Handsome, youthful and energetic, telegenic, personally likeable
  • Great verbal acuity, never at a loss for the quick, pithy answer, able to frame arguments in logical, sequential, easy-to-follow paragraphs
  • Impressive command of the issues, especially foreign policy
  • Conservative “bone fides” on low taxes and family values
  • Undeniably compelling personal American Dream rags-to-riches story
  • Hispanic, Cuban heritage, fluent in Spanish

Check, check, check. Every box, like no other Republican candidate, ever. Bring ‘em on. Finally -- this is the Republican candidate with the political skills and personal qualities that can go toe-to-toe with Hillary and the liberal media and beat them outright. This is not the milquetoast Bob Dole or the old, unattractive only-sort-of-conservative John McCain or the strangely placid and complacent Mitt Romney.

In baseball, they call the great players “five-tool” players, because they have all five essential athletic tools needed to excel: Hit for a high batting average, hit for power, run, field and throw. Marco had that “can’t miss” label on him, full of promise, a future star for sure.

But like the criticism that military generals always prepare for the last war and are thus usually unprepared for future threats, Rubio was perfectly prepared and well equipped to fight a political war that never materialized.

The electorate -- full-spectrum, liberal to conservative, secular to religious, traditional to New Age -- is restless and unsatisfied with the status quo. There are so many factors and conditions extant in the country today with which there is great dissatisfaction and unease. Some of these factors are “conservative” issues, some are “liberal” issues, some are both, some defy ideological categorization.

In no particular order and by no means all-inclusive, some of the issues on peoples’ minds are:

  • The still-sluggish economy 6 years into the so-called “recovery,” official stats be d*mned, where many people seem unable to get ahead and earn solid, reliably-increasing wages
  • Ever-increasing health-care and prescription drug costs
  • The out-of-control cost and diminished-returns value of higher education
  • PC-ism run amok, to the point of tangible negative intrusion on everyday American culture
  • Uncontrolled illegal immigration
  • A lowering of the middle class’s standard of living and lessoning of their future employment advancement prospects
  • Incompetent Government, unable to care for our Vets, unable to avoid wasting billions on backing failed alternative energy companies, unable to stand “tough” against foreign adversaries like Iran

There are certainly many others that can be added to this list. They’d all be valid and they all add up to the same thing: A general feeling of unease, a fear that basic longstanding structural elements in American culture and society are failing, the thought that our economy can no longer -- and may never again -- generate safe, secure, increasingly attractive employment opportunities for people in all sectors of the employment population.

Rubio was like the general perfectly prepared to fight yesterday’s war. He would correct every shortcoming of past failed Republicans, make every right move where Dole, McCain and Romney made the wrong ones. Rubio had the tools. He’d lay back on that slow curve, adjust his swing and knock it out of the park. Game over! We win!

Except that someone forgot to tell Marco that we’re not playing baseball this year. His five expertly-honed, sharpened-to-perfection tools were irrelevant. He never got to use them.

None of the other so-called “traditional” Republican candidates have all the tools either. They all have one or more of the following shortcomings: unlikeable, physically unattractive, inadequate speaking/inspirational ability, “extreme” positions that large voting blocs find “scary,” and other imperfections.  This is not the year for a traditional five-tool Republican candidate.

If not for the “deserved inevitability” of Hillary Clinton’s liberal media/Party resource-backed First Woman campaign, the Democrats could very well have as wide-open a nominating season on their hands as do the Republicans. The “issues list” above is very strong and deep, and as noted, decidedly cuts across ideological lines.

That’s why Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have, in dramatic fashion, both tapped into the electorate’s angst and abject dissatisfaction over the country’s direction. They obviously appeal to different groups for different reasons, but their respective campaign successes are borne from similar seeds. People are quite fed up with the fundamentally dishonest DC-insiders “Good ‘ol Boys” game. That game is -- to agree with Bernie completely -- a “rigged” game.

Far from the Founders’ original intent of Citizen Legislators (where concerned, informed citizens would put their personal lives on hold for a few years to serve as Representatives, and then return to private life) politics has mutated into a hideously unrecognizable social deformity, becoming a corrupt, rancid career path where preserving power and building multiple impenetrable layers of accountability-shielding insulation has become the primary goal.

If Sanders’s refreshing candor and sincere belief in his own somewhat unrealistically extreme positions threatens the comfortable and predictable serenity of day-to-day Democratic/DC deal-making operations, then Donald Trump’s primary election successes with such a huge number of disaffected voters can only be seen as a ticking nuclear dirty bomb planted at the feet of Republican DC lifers. The legions of John Boehner-types in DC -- tranquil and lethargic while wallowing in their lobbyists’ never-drying monies and their untraceable taxpayer-funded expense accounts and retirement perks -- would rather have a conventional Democratic President beat a conventional non-Trumpian Republican candidate in November’s election, as long as it means that their existing party power structure remains intact. The same is true in reverse for the Dems.

It is the perception that Trump is completely unaccountable to and unbeholden to the conventional power/money brokers in the Republican Party that has the DC Party Brokers so apoplectic. If he were to get elected, then business as usual in DC would be over. Their comfortable little power/money fiefdoms would cease to exist.

If this weren’t the year of the Deserved Inevitability of the First Woman, then the Dems might be similarly concerned, although the size of Bernie’s threat to Democratic deal-making/palm-greasing business as usual -- while real -- is an order of magnitude smaller than Trump’s.

Flawed though the two of them are -- and we’ll let others fill in those blanks in a different setting, so please, keep your focus on the subject at hand -- Sanders and Trump are not playing baseball. They are not five-tool players, for on their field, those skills matter not.

Hillary’s being on the scene as the Inevitable Deserving First Woman is masking a real, undeniable continental shift in the way voters view conventional “always been this way” politics. Trump is likely a long shot to win in November, the reasons for which, again, I’ll be only too delighted to let others enumerate. This is not that article. But Hillary is the most conventional of any conventional candidate who ever lived, a Party animal and inside operative of the very highest order.

If she has somehow missed the stark, blunt message that the Sanders and Trump campaigns have unerringly illuminated with such crystal clarity -- and being so unimaginatively conventional, the guess is yes, she has missed it -- then her presidency is likely doomed to be a hackneyed governance marked by a willfully short and uninspired reach with minimal consequential accomplishments.

Marco Rubio’s 2016 Presidential campaign is over. Under-performing from the start, never able to get real traction and command serious attention from either the media or Republican Party insiders, Rubio vacated his Florida Senate seat to embark on a fool’s errand, chasing a ghost he never had any chance of capturing.

Going in, it looked better: If there was ever a prototypically-perfect Republican candidate for a normal election cycle, Rubio was certainly it:

  • Handsome, youthful and energetic, telegenic, personally likeable
  • Great verbal acuity, never at a loss for the quick, pithy answer, able to frame arguments in logical, sequential, easy-to-follow paragraphs
  • Impressive command of the issues, especially foreign policy
  • Conservative “bone fides” on low taxes and family values
  • Undeniably compelling personal American Dream rags-to-riches story
  • Hispanic, Cuban heritage, fluent in Spanish

Check, check, check. Every box, like no other Republican candidate, ever. Bring ‘em on. Finally -- this is the Republican candidate with the political skills and personal qualities that can go toe-to-toe with Hillary and the liberal media and beat them outright. This is not the milquetoast Bob Dole or the old, unattractive only-sort-of-conservative John McCain or the strangely placid and complacent Mitt Romney.

In baseball, they call the great players “five-tool” players, because they have all five essential athletic tools needed to excel: Hit for a high batting average, hit for power, run, field and throw. Marco had that “can’t miss” label on him, full of promise, a future star for sure.

But like the criticism that military generals always prepare for the last war and are thus usually unprepared for future threats, Rubio was perfectly prepared and well equipped to fight a political war that never materialized.

The electorate -- full-spectrum, liberal to conservative, secular to religious, traditional to New Age -- is restless and unsatisfied with the status quo. There are so many factors and conditions extant in the country today with which there is great dissatisfaction and unease. Some of these factors are “conservative” issues, some are “liberal” issues, some are both, some defy ideological categorization.

In no particular order and by no means all-inclusive, some of the issues on peoples’ minds are:

  • The still-sluggish economy 6 years into the so-called “recovery,” official stats be d*mned, where many people seem unable to get ahead and earn solid, reliably-increasing wages
  • Ever-increasing health-care and prescription drug costs
  • The out-of-control cost and diminished-returns value of higher education
  • PC-ism run amok, to the point of tangible negative intrusion on everyday American culture
  • Uncontrolled illegal immigration
  • A lowering of the middle class’s standard of living and lessoning of their future employment advancement prospects
  • Incompetent Government, unable to care for our Vets, unable to avoid wasting billions on backing failed alternative energy companies, unable to stand “tough” against foreign adversaries like Iran

There are certainly many others that can be added to this list. They’d all be valid and they all add up to the same thing: A general feeling of unease, a fear that basic longstanding structural elements in American culture and society are failing, the thought that our economy can no longer -- and may never again -- generate safe, secure, increasingly attractive employment opportunities for people in all sectors of the employment population.

Rubio was like the general perfectly prepared to fight yesterday’s war. He would correct every shortcoming of past failed Republicans, make every right move where Dole, McCain and Romney made the wrong ones. Rubio had the tools. He’d lay back on that slow curve, adjust his swing and knock it out of the park. Game over! We win!

Except that someone forgot to tell Marco that we’re not playing baseball this year. His five expertly-honed, sharpened-to-perfection tools were irrelevant. He never got to use them.

None of the other so-called “traditional” Republican candidates have all the tools either. They all have one or more of the following shortcomings: unlikeable, physically unattractive, inadequate speaking/inspirational ability, “extreme” positions that large voting blocs find “scary,” and other imperfections.  This is not the year for a traditional five-tool Republican candidate.

If not for the “deserved inevitability” of Hillary Clinton’s liberal media/Party resource-backed First Woman campaign, the Democrats could very well have as wide-open a nominating season on their hands as do the Republicans. The “issues list” above is very strong and deep, and as noted, decidedly cuts across ideological lines.

That’s why Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have, in dramatic fashion, both tapped into the electorate’s angst and abject dissatisfaction over the country’s direction. They obviously appeal to different groups for different reasons, but their respective campaign successes are borne from similar seeds. People are quite fed up with the fundamentally dishonest DC-insiders “Good ‘ol Boys” game. That game is -- to agree with Bernie completely -- a “rigged” game.

Far from the Founders’ original intent of Citizen Legislators (where concerned, informed citizens would put their personal lives on hold for a few years to serve as Representatives, and then return to private life) politics has mutated into a hideously unrecognizable social deformity, becoming a corrupt, rancid career path where preserving power and building multiple impenetrable layers of accountability-shielding insulation has become the primary goal.

If Sanders’s refreshing candor and sincere belief in his own somewhat unrealistically extreme positions threatens the comfortable and predictable serenity of day-to-day Democratic/DC deal-making operations, then Donald Trump’s primary election successes with such a huge number of disaffected voters can only be seen as a ticking nuclear dirty bomb planted at the feet of Republican DC lifers. The legions of John Boehner-types in DC -- tranquil and lethargic while wallowing in their lobbyists’ never-drying monies and their untraceable taxpayer-funded expense accounts and retirement perks -- would rather have a conventional Democratic President beat a conventional non-Trumpian Republican candidate in November’s election, as long as it means that their existing party power structure remains intact. The same is true in reverse for the Dems.

It is the perception that Trump is completely unaccountable to and unbeholden to the conventional power/money brokers in the Republican Party that has the DC Party Brokers so apoplectic. If he were to get elected, then business as usual in DC would be over. Their comfortable little power/money fiefdoms would cease to exist.

If this weren’t the year of the Deserved Inevitability of the First Woman, then the Dems might be similarly concerned, although the size of Bernie’s threat to Democratic deal-making/palm-greasing business as usual -- while real -- is an order of magnitude smaller than Trump’s.

Flawed though the two of them are -- and we’ll let others fill in those blanks in a different setting, so please, keep your focus on the subject at hand -- Sanders and Trump are not playing baseball. They are not five-tool players, for on their field, those skills matter not.

Hillary’s being on the scene as the Inevitable Deserving First Woman is masking a real, undeniable continental shift in the way voters view conventional “always been this way” politics. Trump is likely a long shot to win in November, the reasons for which, again, I’ll be only too delighted to let others enumerate. This is not that article. But Hillary is the most conventional of any conventional candidate who ever lived, a Party animal and inside operative of the very highest order.

If she has somehow missed the stark, blunt message that the Sanders and Trump campaigns have unerringly illuminated with such crystal clarity -- and being so unimaginatively conventional, the guess is yes, she has missed it -- then her presidency is likely doomed to be a hackneyed governance marked by a willfully short and uninspired reach with minimal consequential accomplishments.