Much of the political press leans left and has zero experience in politics. Perhaps they graduated Ivy League, did a tour or two at Salon or some lefty blog, then got in on the ground floor at a national media outlet covering politics. They can afford to split rent with five other bros or gals, buy a couple pairs of skinny jeans that they’ll refer to in the singular as a pant or a jean, and silently mock all the people they encounter on the campaign trail who are not cool or sophisticated or dressed like they robbed a Goodwill store in Bangkok. These political reporters have decided that Marco Rubio is a robot because they hear him repeat his lines all the time. They are idiots and Marco knows what he is doing.
The truth of the matter is that while the candidates on the debate stage with Marco and the reporters who resentfully follow him around all the time have heard the same lines over and over and over, most of the American public has not. And when the people in Nashua, NH hear it for the first time, it may be new to the press, but in Manchester it is new to the crowd and old to the press. By the time Rubio gets to Lebanon, NH, the crowd again hears it for the first time, but the press has heard it incessantly.
Therefore Rubio is a robot to the press and his debate stage opponents.
To the public, though, he is on message. For eight years the GOP elite and pundit class have bitched and moaned that the GOP needed to stay focused and on message. Along come Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio who both relentlessly stay on message and the GOP have decided one is unlikable and the other is a robot. It is all nonsense. It is a mutually sympathetic circle jerk of pundits and press racing each other to come up with the wittiest stereotype to capture the imagination of bored politicos tired of the cold in Iowa and New Hampshire. It is a game to the press, but is a life and death, daily struggle to the voters who yearn for something more and something else. Just as the “Cruz is not likable” line is unfair to Cruz, the “Rubio is a robot” line is unfair to Rubio. Cruz may be unlikable to Washington politicos and Rubio a repetitive robot to the same group, but the American public have not seemed to notice.
The first time you watch Marco Rubio debate, you will almost certainly be wowed. He speaks not in sentences but in paragraphs. He has an answer, fully formed, for every question. He comes across as deeply well-versed and well-spoken on, well, everything.
The second time you watch Rubio debate, you’ll probably feel the same. Maybe even the third time.
But, over time, you’ll start to notice that the paragraphs that Rubio speaks in start to sound a lot alike. That’s because they are. And, you’ll start to see Rubio as less the smartest kid in the class and more as the kid who memorized every answer in the book but doesn’t have much of a clue about what it all really means.
Who the hell watches debates that much besides the political junkies and the press? I eat, breathe, and sleep this business, have flown to several debates, and been to my fair share of Iowa diners. Even I have not watched all the debates. The American people surely have not.
This is not to say Rubio does not have problems. He does. He is not connecting well with blue collar voters desperate for an alternative. Rubio is going for high and mighty “shining city on a hill” rhetoric when the guy at the local gas station just wants somebody to tell him the bad guys will die, the good guys will win, and Washington will stop screwing with your light bulb of choice. Rubio isn’t there in tone. He isn’t there in the fortitude category. His passion and righteous indignation has come off as over the top angry, not ballsy determination.
But none of that has to do with repetition.
The Circle of Jerks may be tired of it, but the American people are only just tuning in. That the media and Rubio’s political opponents have generated an entire caricature of Rubio over his ability to stay on message says more about Rubio’s critics than it does Rubio. In a season when nobody knows what anybody stands for, Rubio’s repetition paints his positions in bold colors. Everyone knows where he stands — he thinks Barack Obama has committed malfeasance in office while Chris Christie, who attacked Rubio for repetition, cannot stay on message on guns, abortion, or even whether what he thinks of Barack Obama.