Marco Rubio Is Apparently a Robot Sent from the Past to Destroy the Future

Yesterday, Marco Rubio made another flub that left him appearing more robotic than human. Just as he did in his interaction with Chris Christie in the last debate, Rubio repeated a mess of talking points in a dizzying rhetorical meltdown. Here’s video:

And here’s the transcript:

We are taking our message to families that are struggling to raise their children in the 21st century because as you saw Jeanette and I are raising our four children in the 21st century and we know how hard it’s become to instill our values in our kids, instead of the values they try to ram down our throats. In the 21st century, it’s become harder than ever to instill in your children the values they teach in our homes and in our church, instead of the values that they try to ram down our throats in the movies, in music, and in popular culture.

Bleep-bloop-blorp! Does-not-compute!

Bleep-bloop-blorp! Does-not-compute!

Fascinating stuff, here. I’m most struck by that awkward repetition of “the values that they try to ram down our throats,” which even seems to give Rubio pause on the second instance, and the ill-fitting talk about the 21st century, which has been a recurring theme in Rubio’s campaign. Ever since he announced his candidacy, Rubio has pivoted off his youth and inexperience by talking endlessly about the 21st century, which frankly feels, in 2016, like a quaint callback to 1999. Here, Rubio overindulges in the 21st century talk, which makes it sound hollow. The thing that truly gifted orators understand about claiming the future is that it’s showing, not telling, that matters. Steve Jobs didn’t bore us with talk about what the iPhone could become. He showed us what it did and let us imagine the rest. John F. Kennedy didn’t confuse the American public with scientific jargon; he promised to take us to the moon.

As with most politicians, Rubio’s overstatements disguise an untruth. He is not interested in the future. I’ve written about his reliance on old ideas before. The only way that Rubio’s brand of trickle down economics differs from the trickle down economics of Mitt Romney or George W. Bush or George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan is that it favors the wealthy even more than any of the plans that came before. His tax plan is downright disastrous.

But his tax plan isn’t the only callback in Marco Rubio’s campaign. He’s also out of step with the 21st century’s acceptance of same-sex marriage. Michael Barbaro at the New York Times wrote about Rubio’s encounter with a gay man named Timothy Kierstead at a New Hampshire diner. Kierstead argued that Rubio didn’t care about gay people.

Mr. Rubio, who was standing with his youngest son, Dominick, 8, by his side, gently disagreed. “No, I just believe marriage is between one man and one woman.”

“Well,” replied Mr. Kierstead, “that’s your belief.”

Mr. Rubio continued: “I think that’s what the law should be. And if you don’t agree you should have the law changed by a legislature.”

Again, if you look at Rubio’s comments, they don’t really make sense. Same-sex marriage has been affirmed by the Supreme Court as the law of the land. And Rubio doesn’t agree with same-sex marriage, but he encourages Kierstead to overrule Rubio’s (non-existent) anti-gay-marriage law by convincing a legislature to make gay marriage legal, even though it’s already legal? This is all very mysterious and confusing and insubstantial. And it flies in the face of Rubio’s claims to be a 21st century candidate. Why would anyone want to turn back the clock to the bad old 20th century days of the Defense of Marriage Act? Same-sex marriage is a settled issue in America in the 21st century. We prefer including more married couples, not fewer, in our society. It’s better for our communities, our economy, and our families. Someone should reprogram Rubio’s faulty speech program; even a broken robot should understand that we want a more inclusive society in America.

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Paul Constant
Paul Constant has written about politics, books, and film for Newsweek, The Progressive, the Utne Reader, and alternative weeklies around the country.