Donald Trump

Rubio Is Saying Nasty Things About Trump, but Let's Not Pretend This Isn't Politics as Usual

It's that time where some pointlessly fret about the mud-slinging.


Rumor has it the real reason Dewey lost against Truman was because of his stubby fingers.

Sen. Marco Rubio managed to stay in the news over the weekend amid all the Oscar coverage. He did so by continuing to go after Trump. He and Sen. Ted Cruz hit him hard at last Thursday's debate, making it personal, calling Trump out for the lawsuits against his Trump University and his lack of any policy details, which as Peter Suderman has already noted, absolutely dosn't matter in this primary.

Rubio's weekend strategy was to continue riffing on Trump at rallies with jokey insults and personal attacks, sounding like every single comedian talking about the rich, crass real estate magnate. It's fighting fire with fire, mud with mud. And it got Rubio media attention, and that's certainly important for the candidate.

But it also drew out the expected, "Oh no, this election cycle is heading for the gutter" response. Tim Carney over at the Washington Examiner takes note of the mixed reaction. Republicans who loathe Trump are thrilled to see signs of his weaknesses as a candidate, but worry at the costs of pursuing them:

"He's 6'2," Marco Rubio said of Donald Trump Sunday night, "which is why I don't understand why he has hands the size of someone who's 5'2. You know what they say about men with small hands."

It was perhaps the most explicit small-penis joke in the history of presidential politics.

Rubio has crawled into the mud with his vulgarian opponent. This may be necessary if he is to beat Trump, but it clearly carries dire risks for a man who wants to come across as presidential.

"I liked him until he got down in the mud with Trump," Paul Eveland told me before the Rubio rally. While his wife, Ceci, is behind Rubio, Paul is undecided. Ceci granted that point: "It's disrespectful to the office."

Donald Lawrence calls Trump "a damn clown. I used to watch people like that on cartoons." But Lawrence, who was dragged to the rally by his wife, a Marco fan, doesn't appreciate Rubio's style of fighting the clown Trump. "It kinda made them look like they were a big joke," said Lawrence. "You get somebody who wants to joke around, you wonder how good a president they'll be."

Maybe that's another axis of confusion in this fight of "establishment" vs. "outsiders": a conflict over how seriously we ought to treat the president and how serious the president ought to be. Maybe part of the problem is that many people treat the presidency too seriously? Trump's candidacy revolves around him promising things to his constituents that he'll likely never be able to deliver. If the office of the president hadn't been able to develop to the point where checks and balances are few and far between and the president acts as though he can simply bypass Congress to get his agenda implemented, we perhaps wouldn't have to be worry about Trump's con job.

Much has been written about Trump appealing to those who feel marginalized by the nature of political power. Peggy Noonan noted that Trump's appeal is among Americans who feel "unprotected" by the manner by which politicians dole out power. For those who understand the kind of crony capitalism Trump represents, the conflict may seem very strange: Trump's completely at home at this kind of pay-for-play political system, and Rubio and Cruz both have attacked him for this very reason.

But what Trump is nakedly selling is that he'll be more than happy to use this power on behalf of those who support him and to punish those who oppose him. Trump's corruption is actually part of his selling point. And arguably it wouldn't work if Americans hadn't infused the role of the presidency with its current level of power. Trump is the natural conclusion for trajectory the presidency has been heading for a while. Don't blame the Ku Klux Klan. It's the fault of anybody who thought that the role of the president is to fix whatever ails the citizenry, separation of powers be damned.

And about the mud-flinging—It seems that we've reached the part of the election cycle where everybody pretends that it's the worst that we've ever seen. It's not. America has a history of very nasty election campaigns going back centuries. Watch more from ReasonTV below:

And while the attacks may have gotten Rubio more press, it's not clear that it's actually going to change anything. The latest polls give Trump a massive lead. We'll find out what happens tomorrow. 

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  1. You know what they say about men with small hands.

    Oh, Rubio. It’s not cute when you do it. You need new handlers.

    1. With smaller, err, hands?

    2. and you know what they say about handlers with small hands.

      My lord; the campaign has descended to penis jokes.

  2. Rubio is a boy playing a man’s game.

    1. Rubio doesn’t know how to think on his feet. He does best at wonkish thinking away from the crowd, not to imply the result is actually good, but it’s better than his reactions under fire.

      Whereas Trump doesn’t think at all in any planning kind of way, in any way that people can write up as procedures or plans. Heaven help any of his aides who are tasked with implementing what he says! Except that he has such a short attention span, they can do pretty much anything and he won’t remember whether he asked for it at all, let alone whether it’s what he asked for.

      1. And this guy will have his finger on the Nurse, um I mean, Nuke button!

        Land of Confusion indeed.

  3. Maybe part of the problem is that many people treat the presidency too seriously?

    This is absolutely part of the problem. The role is CEO of the federal government, not king of the Americans. These guys are the hired help and completely replaceable.

    1. they – and I mean the lords of Congress, too – have long since gotten passed the notion that they work for us. They believe, and act like, it’s the other way around.

    2. The role is CEO of the federal government, not king of the Americans.

      They are working on that. After all, BHO has already claimed the right of High Justice.

    3. I’ve been trying to explain this to people. The President’s job should be to be a spokesman and cheerleader for America, in the same way that a CEO is for his company. They also have to make some tough decisions, but their choice of advisers is key there. A President shouldn’t be a policy wonk.

  4. it’s not that rubio is gay, he’s just trump dick size curious.

  5. Aaron Burr was a sitting Vice President when he killed the previous Secretary of the Treasury in a duel. Anybody who thinks politics is particularly nasty today or that Obama (or anyone) has seen more hate and opposition thrown their way is woefully ignorant of history.

    1. +1 Dais caning.

    2. Forget the 18th Century, what about last decade? Howard Dean, who was then chairman of the DNC, said that thinking Bush knew about 911 beforehand and let it happen for political reason was “serious position held by a lot of people”. Elected Democratic politicians said that Bush invaded Iraq as a way to enrich Haliburton.

      And these same people are now claiming Trump is too uncivl and dishonest to hold high office.

    3. Aaron Burr was a sitting Vice President when he killed the previous Secretary of the Treasury in a duel.

      Who would win in a duel today, Joe Biden or Henry Paulson?

      1. Mrs Biden would fire a few shot gun blasts into the sky off the back porch and Paulsen would back away.

  6. The libertarian case for Trump – he is pulling back the veil and showing democracy and politics for the sham that they are. It’s always been a clown show, but such jokes tend to be reserved only for the Republicans who end up putting up some sham centrist candidate who the media considers somewhat palpable in primary season, but paints as a dirty extremist come election time. Well, the Trumpnado is unavoidable and Hillary aint coming out of it unscathed.

    I have accepted there is no good that will come of this election cycle policy wise for libertarians. Not a single god damn thing. But at the least I’ll get to see Trump on stage in a debate with Hillary. I will, god willing, get to see him drag her into the mud and ruthlessly call her out for what she is. I would love nothing more than to see her called a crook or felon in person. I would love to see someone tell her she belongs in jail and not running for office. To her face tell her she is a hypocrite. Hillary has lived in a cocoon for the better part of 30 years now. She will fold and it will be a thing of beauty to watch. It will be worse than Jeb.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. That’s really all we have left.

    2. But then Trump will be President. I’m not sure how that ends well

      1. Its all relative, bassjoe.

        I’m pretty sure we aren’t going to see anything remotely libertarian out of the current apparat. Reducing it to smoking rubble is no guarantee that what comes after will be better, but its a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for changing course.

    3. Everybody in the media and all my anti-Trump liberal friends seem to be convinced that Hillary would beat Trump in a landslide. I actually think Donald could win the popular vote. Other than their personalities and his nonsense about Mexicans, I have yet to hear one solid argument for how Donald Trump would be worse than Hillary in practice. At least with Trump there is no history so there’s a small chance he’ll tone it down. Hillary has a very long history of being on the failing side of basically everything she’s ever touched. 4 years of chaos and a complete dismantling of Washington might be good. Or we could vote a 3rd party in…

      1. I can think of a lot of reasons why Trump would be worse than Hillary. She has experience, he doesn’t. She has a political machine and connections, he doesn’t. She knows and converses with foreign leaders, he doesn’t even know who David Duke is. She doesn’t endorse any of the Trump policies, which are unenforceable as a president, or extremely costly, such as his proposed tax cut (The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates its 10-year cost at $9.5 trillion, or $11.2 trillion with interest). Like her or not (and I don’t), she’s a considerably better choice than Don.

    4. The libertarian case for Trump – he is pulling back the veil and showing democracy and politics for the sham that they are.

      Yes, by inviting more people to oppress their neighbors, and by turning doing so into a fun mob game.

  7. Trump is the natural conclusion for trajectory the presidency has been heading for a while.

    Pretty much, this. This is what the progtard’s who have taken over both parties have turned the presidency into. We’re going to get the government those assholes deserve, good and hard. Regardless of who wins the general election.

    1. I have yet to hear a single criticism of Trump that can’t be made of any number of other politicians that the people making these criticisms would be happy to support. So what bothers these people is not anything Trump says or would do. What bugs them is that he would do those things for the benefit of someone other than them.

  8. I will give a big thumbs up to whoever has been writing Marco’s material these left few days. It has been about the only entertaining part of the campaign so far.

    If he can’t become president and gets bored with not showing up for work in the senate, he and his team have real potential for a late night TV show.

  9. Donald trump is like way too full of himself. wow.

  10. I wonder what the election in 2020 is going to be like.

  11. Scott, if you don’t think that last debate and the slinging that followed isn’t the most childish we’ve seen in our lifetimes, you’re not paying attention.

  12. Of all the people to point a finger at anyone else for being rude or nasty, Trump is not the one. He’s like the monkey in the zoo flinging poop through the cage bars at anyone in striking distance.

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