On Thursday night, during the debate, I witnessed a stunning act of valor. Like Gandalf on the bridge at Khazad-dûm, Marco Rubio threw himself at the Balrog.
‘You cannot pass,’ he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. ‘I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.’
The Balrog made no answer. The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly onto the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall; but still Gandalf could be seen, glimmering in the gloom; he seemed small, and altogether alone: grey and bent, like a wizened tree before the onset of a storm.
Rubio took on the Apfelstrudelfuhrer with a yuge dose of his own medicine–a rapid fire string of personal insults and base accusations–calling Trump out as the fraud is is, and in so doing took himself out of the race.
It was a stunning act of nobility and self-sacrifice. Without it, the cause was surely doomed, because Trump, like the Balrog, was an ancient force from the depths of tremendous innate power, which could not be defeated by mere men and hobbits.
‘You cannot pass!’ he said.
With a bound the Balrog leaped full upon the bridge. Its whip whirled and hissed.
‘He cannot stand alone!’ cried Aragorn suddenly and ran back along the bridge. ‘Elendil!’ he shouted. ‘I am with you, Gandalf!’
‘Gondor!’ cried Boromir and leaped after him.
At that moment Gandalf lifted his staff, and crying aloud he smote the bridge before him. The staff broke asunder and fell from his hand. A blinding sheet of white flame sprang up. The bridge cracked. Right at the Balrog’s feet it broke, and the stone upon which it stood crashed into the gulf, while the rest remained, poised, quivering like a tongue of rock thrust out into emptiness.
With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished. But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard’s knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. ‘Fly, you fools!’ he cried, and was gone.”
Marco Rubio must exit the race as a candidate, and return as a hero. Marco the White.
Just as Gandalf enabled the Fellowship to continue on its perilous quest, dying in his combat with the Balrog and returning with new life from Eru Ilúvatar, the god of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Marco Rubio must return with new life as Ted Cruz’s running mate. Cruz can beat Trump, but victory is tenuous. It’s assured if Marco the White returns with new life and a mission to keep Trump down for good.
Only a week ago, I opined that both Rubio and Cruz must both stay in the race. But now things have changed. After Thursday’s sacrificial act, and Cruz’s victories last night, it’s clear that Rubio’s ghost only gets in the way of Cruz’s victory and the quest’s success.
But it’s not just a matter of timing now. And it’s not a matter of Rubio staying in through the next debate either. You only get one Khazad-dûm. That act only works one time. If you try it again, two things happen: (1) Trump will react differently because he’s now prepared for it (he’s not, after all, stupid); and (2) people will get bored with it.
If I might mix my metaphors a bit, there’s a military doctrine in infantry fighting called “fire and movement.” It’s the result of many lessons learned from the time of the red coats and Napoleonic troops through the Civil War, into World War I. The advent of weapons like machine guns caused unbelievable carnage to formed up troops. In any case, the point of fire and maneuver is to pin your enemy down while not getting pinned yourself.
Attacking Trump twice from the same position, with Cruz acting presidential and Rubio heaving himself on grenades, won’t work. To win in a debate, or on the campaign trail, Cruz and Rubio have to fire and maneuver, over and over again. They have to pin Trump like they did in the last few weeks, without getting pinned themselves. The only way to do that is by close coordination as a team.
Before Thursday’s debate, Cruz and Rubio have to come together as a unity ticket. Cruz has to lead the ticket and Rubio has to be the undercard. That’s the only way. Cruz will be able to stop Trump, and Rubio gets to return as Marco the White, a hero.
This is the turning of the tide, and there’s only one moment we have to seize the initiative and keep it. Today, if possible, for the win, Cruz and Rubio must join, or the moment may be lost.