March 2016-McCormick Place
The discovery last month that Marco Rubio, our own Florida candidate, is a robot is perhaps the most bizarre incident in a presidential primary campaign that has not been lacking in bizarreness. He showed what many consider a fundamental weakness, when the windup key in the middle of his back got stuck at a most unfortunate time—the last Republican debate before the critical New Hampshire primary. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie could not stop giggling as Rubio, four times, repeated the same inane comment about President Barack Obama knowing exactly what he was doing, which is basically destroying the American way of life as we know it. He did it even after Christie began mocking him, to the amusement of whomever was still watching, when most of the world was focusing on the upcoming debate between Peyton Manning and Cam Newton. Rubio should have excused himself to visit the men’s room and get an attendant to jiggle the windup key, freeing it the way you do a toilet handle when the flushing float gets stuck.
Well, one thing it did was stop the comparison between Rubio and Obama, and even sometimes President John F. Kennedy, when it comes to youth and inexperience. The Obama comparison is fair, in terms of their common youth and short-term experience on the national level. And like Kennedy, he was able to attract rich supporters, although in Kennedy’s case the principal backer was his father. Other than that, any comparison to Kennedy is bogus. Republicans attacked Kennedy for his youth in 1960. President Dwight D. Eisenhower contemptuously called him “that boy” although to his credit, not in public. Well, that boy was in Nazi Germany before World War II, and appalled by the blatant anti-Semitism, and the war he saw coming. In contrast, his father, ambassador to England at the time, seemed to admire the German regime. Kennedy wrote a book, “Why England Slept,” while still at Harvard. Later, he won one of the highest awards the U.S. Navy can give for extraordinary actions when his Patrol Torpedo boat was sunk off Guadalcanal. He lost a brother and brother-in-law in that war, so he was entitled to an opinion when it came to the use of military force. It is hard to believe that he would not be more perceptive than most of the presidential candidates on matters such as ISIS.
One gets the impression that most of our current candidates, if given a blank world map, would put Damascus in the hills of Virginia and Cairo in Illinois.
Kennedy served in Congress and then in the Senate for 14 years before he ran for president. He visited Vietnam (along with his brother Bobby) in the 1950s when the French were fighting a losing war against a nationalist movement, and returned home convinced that efforts to thwart such movements were doomed to failure. His reluctance to continue supporting our unfortunate involvement in Vietnam is one of the reasons he was murdered by the military-industrial complex. So much for his inexperience.
Unlike Rubio, Kennedy was never accused of robotic responses to questions. It has been written that Rubio speaks in paragraphs, flawlessly delivered and, his opponents say, memorized. Kennedy, although one of the greatest political speakers in our history, was much different in spontaneous remarks. He was the master of the “uh” delay.
When asked about an important subject at a press conference, his response would sound like this:
“I would, uh, just, uh, let me say this on that. We’re, uh, prepahing a white papah on the subject of Cuber and that will be released next week.”
And, almost always, that shut up the press, and most of them didn’t ask what ever happened to the “white papah.”
Today we fret about the amount of money that goes into politics. Your average politician loses sleep trying to figure out ways to hide it. Rubio’s wife has been on a major benefactor’s payroll. These politicians in Florida with enormous PACs can’t find enough relatives to put on their payrolls.
When challenged decades ago on a similar subject, Kennedy produced a telegram he attributed to his father: “Don’t buy one vote more than you need. I refuse to pay for a landslide.”
After his debate disaster, it was reported that longtime Rubio associates say he suffers from anxiety problems, which sometimes lead to panic attacks. Are we dealing with a mental health issue here? If so, his health might benefit if he studied Kennedy’s style, especially his use of the “uh” factor.
He, uh, might, uh, also, uh, seek less stressful work, such as, uh—bahtendah.