February 8th, 2016

About that Christie-Rubio flap last Saturday

I mentioned the other day that I was going to write more on the Christie-Rubio exchange during the last debate, the one that has everyone abuzz. I’ve been working on an article that I might ship out (if it doesn’t get published elsewhere, it will appear on this blog soon), but I thought in the meantime I’d just summarize what I discovered.

Strangely enough, when I actually went back to the transcript of the debate (something very few people seem to have done), I was very surprised to find that Christie was startlingly wrong. What’s more, Christie was repeatedly ignoring Rubio’s main point and repeating his own flawed premise. Rubio was repeating himself in response because Christie kept restating the error.

When people (and that most definitely included me) listened to the debate, they didn’t catch it. It happens fast, and you have to be tracking the back-and-forth very very carefully. But going back to the transcript and reading closely, I found it fairly clear.

Unfortunately, because of Christie’s emphasis on Rubio’s repetition (as though that has any deep meaning), Rubio’s point got lost. Rubio would have done well to have specifically said something like “You keep repeating your error and that’s why I’m repeating my answer,” but that was his biggest failure, and it was rhetorical.

Those who believe that it was Christie who had a good night must believe it’s true that Obama is a bad president because of inexperience, because that was Christie’s position. In other words, Christie’s answer to the “knave or fool?” question for Obama is: fool.

That, IMHO, makes Christie a fool about the biggest question of Obama’s presidency, and in addition a fool about the danger the left presents. Rubio was trying to say that. Too bad Christie’s belittling of Rubio’s method of saying it fooled so many listeners.

I wonder: would people have liked it better if Rubio had just let the analogy of his inexperience with Obama’s inexperience—and the idea that that’s the source of Obama’s “errors”—stand? Or would it have been better if, instead of saying “Obama knows exactly what he’s doing” several times, Rubio had said “Obama is aware is the meaning and consequences of his own actions, and is therefore culpable rather than incompetent?” Yes, Rubio repeated himself for emphasis, but he also said plenty of other things that evening (and elsewhere) that weren’t in his stump speech. And of course Christie, and the others, repeat themselves all the time.

Rubio is not necessarily my frontrunner. I’m most simpatico with Cruz’s stances on most things, although I worry about his “electability” (I’m growing to hate that word). And in the past I’ve been somewhat positive towards Christie, as well as of Rubio. My defense of Rubio here is because of what I found when I went to the transcript—and not just what I found about Rubio, but what I found about Christie.

[NOTE: And by the way, although I don’t happen to think repetition is a crime when you’re making an important point, here’s a piece on how Christie repeated himself during the same debate.]

[ADDENDUM: I plan to be more specific in my longer piece. But in response to a commenter request, here’s a really quick listing of what Christie got wrong in terms of content:

(1) the idea that Obama’s flaws stem from inexperience rather than intent, a serious and dangerous underestimation of the man’s agenda, and the left’s agenda. That was why Rubio was hammering that point home. Not only did Christie have no effective answer, he didn’t even attempt to answer at any point, just kept repeating his error.
(2) Christie had no answer to Rubio’s charge about his snow removal faux pas (and it was Christie who cited snow removal as some sort of experience relevant to the presidency, which it is not)
(3) Christie had no answer to Rubio’s charge about Christie’s budget failings.

Actually, of Rubio’s three points, Christie only even attempted to answer one—the snow removal charge. And he did so ineffectively.]

52 Responses to “About that Christie-Rubio flap last Saturday”

  1. Cornhead Says:

    Rubio in the Obama as knave camp but he needs to expound and rephrase this more. Neo’s phrasing is a good start. Obama’s intentional destruction of our coal, oil and gas companies is an excellent example. Rumors of a giant LNG BK today.

    Chris is a nasty piece of work. Unelectable.

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    Cornhead:

    Christie is like a drowning man who reaches out to another person and tries to pull him under, too.

    And boy, when I went back to that transcript, the shallowness of his responses and the tricks he used were glaringly obvious.

  3. sdferr Says:

    On repetition, it used to be said: dis kai tris t’agatha

    two and three times the true (things)

  4. OlderandWheezier Says:

    Neo, could you be more specific as to where Christie errs? I think I know where you’re going, but I don’t want to assume. And I might want to rebut some of the “Marco Roboto” dimwits who are spreading the meme.

  5. Cornhead Says:

    Marco and his team will have a smart response to the Marco Robot meme.

  6. OlderandWheezier Says:

    Cornhead,

    Maybe they should counter with something about C3PO taking Jabba the Hutt to task?

    (no, I’m not really a Star Wars geek)

  7. sdferr Says:

    Andrew McCarthy had like thoughts (“Rubio Was Right, and Christie Wrong, about Obama”) to neo-neocon’s excellent thoughts.

  8. boxty Says:

    Christie’s error is that he thinks you have to have executive experience to be a successful President. Obama is an example where a Washington neophyte has run circles around the Republicans and the Clinton machine. Someone else on another blog mentioned that Rubio should have used Lincoln as an example where Christie is wrong about a strong, principled leader needing executive experience.

    Carter was a governor but nobody looks at him as a role model for the Presidency.

  9. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Christie’s error resonated because people are sick to death of slick politicians. Rubio’s inability to respond, gave credibility to Christie’s implication that Rubio is a Republican “slick Willie”.

    Rubio was unable to respond both because he was unprepared for that line of attack and most of all because he knows it’s true. The truism that, “Figures don’t lie but liars figure” applies here because Rubio’s public declarations and political record demonstrate him to be a lying, political opportunist.

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    Actually, Rubio did respond on his record AND about Obama–but everyone forgot that first part because Christie then attacked on styel because it was Christie who had no adequate response on content.

    Cristie’s ploy worked with most people to deflect them from what actually was happening in terms of the content of the argument.

    My longer piece will go into the details.

    And in fact, although Rubio mentioned his record, he didn’t go into enough of his own record. He has one, particularly in Florida as Speaker, which is nothing to sneeze at. He also made the point (which has also been forgotten in Christie’s histrionics) that mere experience does not matter, it’s the record of achievement that matters. And he attacked Christie on the record of Christie’s budget, for which it was Christie who had no response except: snow removal! Which Rubio also attacked.

    All forgotten in the drama of the “you’re repeating yourself” crapola.

    Now, you may not think Rubio’s record and experience are adequate, and you may think Christie’s are great, but Rubio certainly did defend his and attack Christie’s, in addition to Rubio’s talking correctly about Obama’s inexperience vs. intent.

  11. neo-neocon Says:

    OlderandWheezier:

    My longer piece will go into the details.

  12. Irene Says:

    My problem with Rubio is not with his repetitions. It’s that he never says exactly how he’s going to make America “America” again. And I’m talking about the real problems: 94+million working age adults out of the job force, $19+trillion debt, and all the other really important stuff (financial crisis anyone????) that is never addressed.

    As far as his record goes, all I see is that he’s either been part of the problem, or conveniently absent when the going got tough.

  13. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    It was Christie who was unable to respond, and he deflected the audience from awareness of that by criticizing Rubio’s delivery. It was all rhetorical on Christie’s part (which I learned from reading the transcript), and he’s good at it because he’s a very experienced prosecutor.

    So, people are sick of slick politicians, but not of slick rhetorical tricks from lawyers. Great.

  14. geokstr Says:

    I posted this on the last comment on the last post, but I wanted to repeat it here.

    Christie’s attacks on Rubio’s multiple responses about Obama were stupid, ill-informed and showed his utter lack of empathy for the concerns of the Tea Parties, the rest of the conservative base and lots of moderates as well.

    The point was that Obama is not incompetent, but that everything he’s doing is quite deliberate and designed to “fundamentally transform” a country he despises into something it was never set up to be. Why do you think the base is so lathered up about handing the Congress to the Republicans only to watch them deliberately enable everything he’s doing?

    The entire field ought to be pointing that out, and tarring Hillary/Bernie/Biden as Obama’s 3rd term on steroids. Only Cruz has been saying that until Rubio on Saturday, and even he ought to mention it a lot more. There are a lot of people still giving Obama the benefit of the doubt for his disastrous performance because the media has portrayed him as the victim of a situation left for him by those dastardly Republicans, and that no one else could have done a better job than Obama under the circumstances..

    Any patriotic American who loves this country could have done a far superior job on ending the recession, creating the environment for job creation, forestalling the upheaval in the Middle East, protecting our liberties and defending the Constitution simply by dint of not purposefully trying to make the situation worse.

  15. neo-neocon Says:

    OlderandWheezier:

    But if you want a really quick response listing what Christie got wrong:

    (1) the idea that Obama’s flaws stem from inexperience rather than intent, a serious and dangerous underestimation of the man’s agenda, and the left’s agenda. That was why Rubio was hammering that point home. Not only did Christie have no effective answer, he didn’t even attempt to answer at any point, just kept repeating his error.
    (2) Christie had no answer to Rubio’s charge about his snow removal faux pas (and it was Christie who cited snow removal as some sort of experience relevant to the presidency, which it is not)
    (3) Christie had no answer to Rubio’s charge about his budget failings.

    Actually, of Rubio’s three points, Christie only even attempted to answer one, the snow removal charge. And he did so ineffectively, so then he attacked Rubio on style.

  16. notherbob2 Says:

    The current rule book seems to hold that the Republican candidate needs to be perceived to be as much like Reagan as possible because Reagan won the general election. If a candidate cannot bring that off, due to age, experience, skill, etc., then the next best thing is to be another Obama. If voters were smarter now, after experiencing President Obama, that should be deadly. In politics, counting on voters being smarter usually doesn’t work. Hence we have Cruz and Rubio, one term Senators who speak well and have little executive experience. If this type of candidate requires the viewer to “check the transcript” to determine his meaning…

  17. Stan on the Brazos Says:

    I agree with Rubico, Obama is working on his plan and beliefs. Recently started reading Bernard Lewis’s 2004 book “The Crisis of Islam” (gave my first copy to my youngest before he left for Iraq). The very short intro, 30 pages pretty well explains Obama, no I am not saying Obama is a Moslem, just his early schooling and influences in Indonesia plus Valeria Jarret, a Moslem, likely creates a more Moslem way of thinking when reviewing policy.

  18. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    neo,

    I am not a fan of Chris Christie nor was I, in any way, offering support for Christie. I simply offered an explanation for why Christie’s categorization of Rubio resonates with many people. Which BTW is also why Rubio’s response was ‘forgotten’ and/or missed by people.

    Rubio’s record of ‘achievements’ since entering the Senate is what is relevant and that record is appaling.

    On the other hand, Christie’s record on national issues is that of a RINO and thus to me, of complete disinterest.

    BTW, I fully support Rubio’s characterization of Obama as “knowing exactly what he is doing” and that his intention is fundamentally destructive to America. But that Rubio is to be commended on his frankness on this important issue, changes not a bit the profound lack of character that he has revealed.

    Finally, slick politicians and slick lawyers are two sides of the same coin. They both employ slick rhetorical tricks.

    Hillary, a former lawyer turned politician has offered a superb example of the use of a rhetorical trick. As, in seeking to defect public criticism, she has repeatedly stated that she never sent emails marked ‘classified’ which, as she knows that materials are never marked “classified” but instead given other labels is… technically true. (It depends on what the meaning of is, is…)

    And, we know that she must have ordered that the markings on the emails on the secured servers, be stripped of their classifications before they were sent to her private email account.

  19. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “Hence we have Cruz and Rubio, one term Senators who speak well and have little executive experience.” notherbob2

    A number of Presidents have had little executive experience. A mature perspective, good instincts and a “quick study” are, I suspect of greater importance.

    But character counts most of all. IMO, of the candidates, Cruz, Carson and Fiorina stand above the others.

  20. Ann Says:

    What about Rubio and the “provision (inserted into last year’s annual spending bill and now again into this year’s) that requires the risk-corridor program in Obamacare to be budget neutral”?

    Here’s Yuval Levin at NRO on the matter:

    So what, you might ask, does Marco Rubio have to do with this complicated story? The answer, it seems to me, is that none of it would have happened if Rubio had not made the risk-corridor insurer bailout an issue, starting in 2013. Before that, a few health wonks on the right had raised red flags about the issue, but it wasn’t until Rubio and his staff grasped its significance, insistently drew attention to it, and produced a bill to avert an insurer bailout that the issue became prominent among the priorities of Obamacare’s opponents. Rubio was without question the first and most significant congressional voice on this subject, and if he hadn’t done the work he did, the risk-corridor neutralization provision would not have been in last year’s (or this year’s) budget bill.

  21. LJB Says:

    “But character counts most of all. IMO, of the candidates, Cruz, Carson and Fiorina stand above the others.”

    A week ago, I would have agreed with you on all three. After this week’s post-Iowa nonsense (which, it seems, he has done everything he could to perpetuate) I am much less impressed with Dr. Carson’s character than I was.

  22. Richard Saunders Says:

    Neo, Cornhead, et al — you are just way off base on this. Your response is based on the premise that the question to Rubio was why he is running for President or why he thinks Obama has been bad for the country. It wasn’t — the question was “Tonight, what are your accomplishments in the Senate that demonstrate you are ready to be President of the United States?”

    Rubio answered with one sentence about his record in Florida and in the Senate, three sentences about Joe Biden, and then launched into his “Barak Obama is a knave” speech. It was totally nonresponsive and irrelevant to the question.

    Christie’s comment was directly on point — when you’re a governor, it’s not enough to make speeches, you actually have to do stuff.

    Rubio then comes back with one sentence relevant to the point — that Christie didn’t want to go back to New Jersey for the snowstorm, then for the second time launched into the “Barak Obama is a knave” speech again. Again, completely off the point.

    Then the moderator called on Bush, and Bush addressed the question, leadership, and he, like Christie, pointed out that Rubio is a gifted politician and may have the skills necessary to be president, but soaring eloquence doesn’t demonstrate them.

    It’s like if I go to the hardware store, and my wife asks me, “Did you buy anything there?” and I answer, “Boy, they have a lot of really cool stuff there.” Then she’ll say, “But did you buy anything there?” If I say, “Did you know they have a reverse widget with a 90-degree elbow-L and dual pistons?” she’ll say, “ANSWER THE QUESTION!”

    Both Christie and Bush responded to the question, which was about Rubio’s executive experience, and NOT whether Obama is a fool or a knave. That just wasn’t on the table, and Christie was 100% right — Rubio answered with an irrelevant, canned sound bite – twice! If Christie understood the moderator’s question, and Bush understood the question, I’m very surprised that you don’t.

  23. blert Says:

    Richard Saunders…

    That’s NOT how political discourse in these so-called debates runs.

    Sorry.

    One only has so much air time.

    So EVERYONE sticks to their driving points.

    The LAST thing you ever can suffer is to be back-peddling to the other fellow’s points.

    That’s Political Discourse 101.

  24. neo-neocon Says:

    Richard Saunders:

    In the longer piece I’m working on, I analyze the question and each man’s answer, point by point. It is you who are off base; it pays to carefully study the transcript sentence by sentence through the entire exchange, as I have.

    Not that most people will know or care. But believe me, I can make my case. It is based on what actually happened, not what you may remember or think happened.

    For example, here was the question Muir actually asked:

    Senator Rubio. I want to stay on the issue of readiness to be president and experience and questions about you being a first-term senator.

    Governor Christie warning voters here in New Hampshire against voting for another first-term senator as America did with Barack Obama in 2008. Arguing that you are, quote, “not ready to be president of the United States.”…Tonight, what are your accomplishments in the Senate that demonstrate you are ready to be president of the United States?

    So there was a very specific question for Rubio about his experience and status as a first-term senator, with an explicit reference to Christie’s previously having compared Rubio’s unreadiness with Obama’s (another first-term senator). In response, first Rubio quickly lists some of his own accomplishments, reminding the audience that not only was he a US senator but that he also was in the Florida legislature.

    That part of the answer finished, Rubio then explains that length of service in the Senate is hardly a sufficient recommendation, using Joe Biden’ lengthy tenure there as an example. Then he goes on to respond to Christie’s specific equating of his inexperience with Obama’s, as Muir had pointed out, and says that the problem with Obama was not inexperience.

    It’s only when Christie later repeats his equation of Rubio with Obama that Rubio comes to repeat his answer. This is Christie speaking [italics mine]:

    …what we need to have in this country is not to make the same mistake we made eight years ago. The fact is it does matter when you have to make decisions and be held accountable for them…

    I like Marco Rubio, and he’s a smart person and a good guy, but he simply does not have the experience to be president of the United States and make these decisions. We’ve watched it happen, everybody. For the last seven years, the people of New Hampshire are smart. Do not make the same mistake again.

    Three times there Christie accuses Rubio of being like Obama because Obama is inexperienced and so is Rubio. Rubio is supposed to ignore this? It’s Christie who is ignoring Rubio’s point about the fact that Obama knew what he was doing and didn’t do it through inexperience—a point which Christie never responds to, by the way.

    There’s much much more. As I said, I have a full analysis of the back and forth, and Rubio is almost entirely on point and responding to Christie’s repeated charges that Rubio is like Obama due to inexperience.

  25. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    LBJ,

    I haven’t paid much attention to Carson. A good man, who has no chance of election and for me too religiously dogmatic in his perceptive ‘filters’.

    I suspect his frustration with his low ratings has caused him to over emphasize the ‘immorality’ of Cruz’s team jumping on the CNN rumor.

    I think it likely that Cruz’s team viewed that rumor as ‘manna from heaven’ perceiving Carson’s supporters, many evangelical, as naturally falling to Cruz when Carson drops out. Cruz’s people are perhaps more guilty of not looking with greater skepticism at a rumor ‘too good to be true’ but that’s a level of saintliness unreasonable to expect today.

  26. neo-neocon Says:

    On Carson at the debate:

    Until this debate, Ben Carson had been the most consistently likable person of all, whatever you may think of his qualifications to be president. Personally, I think he’d make a pretty good one if he was pressed into service (fast learner, calm temperament, basic conservative), but that’s the only way he could be nominated at this point and it’s not going to happen. And last Saturday night at the debate’s beginning, he seemed to be demonstrating he seemed to be demonstrating his stellar personal attributes: he responded to one of the “gotcha” questions near the outset by saying he wasn’t going to attack other Republicans and quoted Reagan’s eleventh commandment, which made me feel a sense of relief that maybe it wouldn’t be one of those MSM-guided attack fests after all—and then Carson proceeded to do just that to Ted Cruz, in a slightly subtle way that came across to me as snide and sneaky and passive-aggressive.

    In other words, he said he wouldn’t do something and then proceeded to do it. That was the first time Carson seemed like an ordinary politician to me, and it didn’t enhance him in my eyes. For me, it was a surprise and a disappointment that set me on edge at the outset.

  27. blert Says:

    Dilbert // Scott Adams is speculating that the GOPe will pull out all the stops to make Rubio a “surprisingly strong” second place finisher in New Hampshire.

    Lest Trump run the tables.

    &&&&&&&

    What I see is “all hands on deck” to stop Ted Cruz — and a flaming attempt by Fox News to make Ted a Non-Person.

    He’s at the top of the heap — but NOT worthy of mention — whatsoever — WRT New Hampshire.

    Fox has ENTIRELY gone over to the Left Side.

    Darth Murdoch has had his sway.

  28. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    It is Christie who was the “slick lawyer” in his exchange with Rubio.

    I found a lot of surprises when I studied the transcript.

    My point in making the “slick lawyer” remark was that it was Christie who was being the slick lawyer here, as I found by actually taking a long, hard look. Understand that, when I heard the exchange, that was not my impression at all. My auditory impression was wrong about what had happened.

  29. J.J. Says:

    It seems to me that Rubio could have rephrased his answer so it didn’t seem so repetitive.

    He might have said, “The failures of the Obama administration are not the result of his inexperience, but of his inflexible progressive domestic policies and his over reliance on diplomacy and appeasement in foreign relations. He carries out those policies very well because he believes in them, but they are simply the wrong policies. That is why he is failing, not because of his inexperience.”

  30. neo-neocon Says:

    J.J.:

    Yes, of course he might have done so, but I wonder why we should care.

    Rubio had said plenty of things in that debate that were not from his stump speeches, and others (including Christie) had said things that they say when campaigning all the time. And vice versa. So what? Are we really so hung up on wanting them to use synonyms, like in a term paper?

    And in fact, Rubio did not say exactly the same things, even in the part were we perceive he did. He mixed it up a little each time, and added or subtracted a few things. Yes, he was on message. But the only part, I think, that was exactly the same was “Obama knew exactly what he was doing.” Why would it be better if he’d said, “Obama was precisely aware of what he did” or something like that? Anyone who watches Rubio knows that, whether they like or dislike him, approve of his policies or not, he’s smart and he can use English like any other person, and come up with novel sentences. He can even make ad lib jokes. Is this an elocution contest?

  31. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    neo,

    I’m not arguing in favor of Christie. Of course he’s a slick lawyer. His charge that Rubio is a slick politician resonates with many because of Rubio’s actions since his election to the Senate.

  32. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    If that’s what Christie wanted to charge Rubio with, all he had to do was say so. It’s not that hard: “Marco, you’re a slick politician because of what [fill in the blank] in the Senate.”

    Ah, but Christie can’t do that, because he’s gone back and forth on too many things, and is a slick politician himself. So instead he charges Rubio with repeating himself, after Christie has repeated himself and thrown a different, nonsensical charge against Rubio: that Rubio will be just like Obama because they are both single term senators.

    But for a lot of people, Christie “wins” that one. For me, it caused me to withdraw any support I’d ever had from Christie.

  33. parker Says:

    Christie and Jeb! are floundering, damaging and overtaking Rubio is their only hope for staying on past SC. Reading the transcript, as opposed to watching the debate, I have to agree that Christie was trying to score points by badgering Rubio, and he is the one that the msm should be tittering about, not Rubio. Rubio could have stated his case better, but he scores points with me by tagging bho as a knave.

    I am curious about the gope; they must realize the 3 governors are not going to be the nominee, so why has the gope not infomed the governors to lay off Rubio? He is their best hope to remain players in the next administration, unless they would rather deal with the “malleable” Trump.

    What I do know is the gope would choose to lose if it avoids a Cruz/Fiorina regime.

  34. Philip Says:

    Hi, neo,

    That’s a good bit of work you seem to have put into working through this. It takes a fair amount of work to figure this stuff out sometimes. It hadn’t occurred to me to dig out the transcript and do what you did. Thanks.

  35. Richard Saunders Says:

    I saw the debate, and I read the transcript, as I have read many transcripts during the course of my sordid life. Transcripts are not always accurate (see the first line of the second paragraph of Trump’s second quote), nor do they convey the oral and non-verbal cues of the speaker’s quote (see “My Cousin Vinny”).

    What I see here is people responding to what they would have liked to have been said rather that what was actually said. Reminds me of something I learned in speech class in high school, later quoted by Alan Greenspan, “I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

    At least when Cato the Elder added “Carthago delenda est” to the end of his speeches, he had a long and distinguished career of military and public service to look back on.

    Further deponent sayeth not.

  36. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “For me, it caused me to withdraw any support I’d ever had from Christie.” neo

    Welcome to the club. Initially impressed with Christie for his apparent straightforwardness, I lost faith in Christie some time before Hurricane Sandy, when I learned of his extensive connections to and support from Muslim organizations in NJ. His interactions with Obama after Sandy confirmed my low opinion of him.

    Personally, I think that both you neo and Richard make valid points. The truth of the matter is many layered and multi-factored.

    parker,

    Political ambition, at least temporarily, can supersede donor disapproval. Nor is the GOPe monolithic. It’s an allience of individual interests. Much overlap in interests but the lust for power, money and influence are egoistic in nature. At this early stage the GOPe may be taking a hands off approach, a case of let the fiercest predator win. Plenty of time yet to bring whichever beast emerges as ‘alpha’ to heel.

  37. notherbob2 Says:

    neo said: “Why would it be better if he’d said, “Obama was precisely aware of what he did” or something like that?”
    I am very hesitant to answer that question because of the excellent content of the comments above. However, if neo really doesn’t understand why it would have been better (IMHO) it would improve her analysis if she does understand. Rubio, by his repetition, seemed to demonstrate that he did not grasp the issue he was being presented with even if he actually did. He loses so many points on this apparent lack of comprehension because the audience clearly heard Christie accuse him of repeating canned comments. Just how is a further recitation of the same canned comment an appropriate response? In fact, it is the least appropriate response. What would be an appropriate respones? Something like: “I can only repeat what I just said because it is my answer to your question.” Add this blunder to the water-drinking eplsode…
    I am not saying that this incident is conclusive. It reinforces a meme that Rubio would no doubt not desire to add fuel to reinforce.

  38. neo-neocon Says:

    notherbob2:

    My question was actually rhetorical, but I guess I didn’t make that clear. In fact, I do understand why it would have sounded better if Rubio had phrased it differently, of course. The point I was trying to make is that phrasing it differently or phrasing it the same has nothing to do with what he said and why he kept repeating himself and the point he was making, the substance of the thing. Rubio’s error was a rhetorical one, and Christie’s only “win” was a mere rhetorical one, as well. But, unfortunately, people respond to that sort of trickery—oooo, he’s repeating himself! Must mean he doesn’t know what he’s saying! Rather than noticing that it was actually Christie who had been talking nonsense.

    One might say that Christie won on process, Rubio on content. But flashy process can trump (pardon the expression) actual content, unfortunately.

    Believe me, I get it.

  39. LJB Says:

    “…then Carson proceeded to do just that to Ted Cruz, in a slightly subtle way that came across to me as snide and sneaky and passive-aggressive.

    In other words, he said he wouldn’t do something and then proceeded to do it. That was the first time Carson seemed like an ordinary politician to me, and it didn’t enhance him in my eyes. For me, it was a surprise and a disappointment that set me on edge at the outset.”

    Sadly, it was not the first time Carson has been a politician this week that I have seen.

    There was the press conference where he called on Cruz to be accountable for what Cruz’s staffer had done, and at the same press conference, refused to be held accountable for what his staffer did in starting the whole mess. And that was after Cruz had called him and apologized.

    There was the patently false claim of “getting new clothes”, which Carson himself doubled down on in that same press conference, rather petulantly, in fact.

    There was discovering that his campaign had been forced to paint his image on a bus and drive it around Iowa without him, in order to deceive folks into thinking that Carson was in state when he was not, followed by the hypocrisy of pointing the finger at Cruz over “deceitfulness”, when he apparently could not be bothered to do the hard ground work that Cruz did.

    There was discovering that his campaign was burning through funds (including spending it on private flights) and was actually in the red – and that 20 members of his NH staff had just defected en masse to the Cruz campaign before the Iowa caucus, which means he had an axe to grind already.

    There was the incident at the debate (quoting and violating the 11th commandment) followed by him rushing off to the media to claim that Cruz “begged” him for a private meeting. Carson is quoted by the Washington Post as saying:

    “In the interview, Carson said pointedly that if the meeting with Cruz is scheduled, that does not mean that the senator will be absolved.”

    I doubt it would be possible Cruz to be “absolved” at this point, for absolving someone requires you to give up the leverage you have over them…and Carson clearly isn’t interested in that.

    A year and a half ago, I was intrigued by the possibility of Dr. Carson running for President. At this point, I have gone from intrigued to “nice guy, not president material” to the point you made earlier – he’s passive aggressive, sneaky and snide. Very disappointing.

  40. PatD Says:

    Perception is reality.

    I recall reading about a Senate confirmation hearing for a Middle East State Department post. The candidate is doing fine until Joe Biden steps up. This is NOT an accurate transcript. In fact, I’m making it up from a dim memory. But it doesn’t matter.

    Biden: “Do you know the prime minister of Burundi?” Flustered candidate: “No”. Biden: Who is our ambassador to Rwanda? Flustered candidate: “I don’t know”.

    After Biden had finished with a dozen more similar questions, the candidate’s credibility was destroyed. Afterwards, he asked Biden why he’d asked him so many irrelevant questions. Biden said, “Heck, I didn’t know the answers either, but you lost”.

  41. Dennis Says:

    I agree with Geoffrey Britain that Christie is too much of an to be effective in protecting us from militant Islam. I appreciate Neo’s analysis of the debate. In my opinion, Christie did nothing to advance his own likability by using cheap lawyerly tricks in his attacks on Rubio. Hopefully, Christie will soon drop out of the race.

    In our war with militant Islam, Jeb Bush has doubled down on his brother’s mistaken assertions that there is no connection between Islam and terrorism. If he were elected he would probably promote the interests of Islam against Christians almost as effectively as Obama has done.

    I agree with what people have said about Carson. His milking the situation with Cruz comes across as petty. LJB has brought up some interesting facts about the Carson campaign that I had not heard before. Clearly the argument that Carson makes that he was just picking up some clothes it a lie which clashes badly with his public persona as an all around good guy.

  42. blert Says:

    Geoffrey Britain Says:
    February 8th, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    “For me, it caused me to withdraw any support I’d ever had from Christie.” neo

    Welcome to the club. Initially impressed with Christie for his apparent straightforwardness, I lost faith in Christie some time before Hurricane Sandy, when I learned of his extensive connections to and support from Muslim organizations in NJ. His interactions with Obama after Sandy confirmed my low opinion of him.

    &&&&&

    Preach it brother.

  43. Dennis Says:

    Sorry about the typos. I meant to say that Jeb Bush is an Islamophile but for some reason that word didn’t come through when I posted.

    After 9/11 George Bush made the dangerous statement that Islam is a religion of peace. His national policy after 9/11 made us feel he was doing something but unfortunately it was completely misguided. Because of his illusions about the potential for freedom in Islamic culture Bush managed to expend great resources and many American lives with little to show for it. When he removed Saddam Hassein’s secular Baathist regime he removed a major enemy of the Islamist regime in Iran which greatly strengthened them.

    If one agrees with Bush that Islam is a religion of peace, the corollary is that that the more Islam in a country the more peace. Since he was all in with Islam, Bush ignored the rising murder of Christians in Iraq under his watch. Obama simply accelerated the decline in the region that Bush had already initiated. Now thanks to Bush we have more Islam in Iraq but no peace. Afghanistan is still a land of terrible desolation and tyranny.

  44. expat Says:

    I’m beginnning to think we have a clash of NY/NJ values here. It’s Trump and Christie making deals with the Mafia because that’s what you have to do in their neck of the woods. This is a bit less obvious with Trump because he started on the immigration thing that brought him unwwavering support from some.

    On the other side, you have Bush and Kasich who make deals with the other side because they think the represent a part of America that has to be included. That would be OK in some circumstances but not today. Today, the left is winning on too many fronts, from white-guilt-supported BLM to making nice with CAIR. What Bush and Kasich have done in Ohio and Florida is important because it shows that states can be effective in running things without the mass of federal regulations. That is an important lesson.

    However, what they have not done is make people confront the fallacies of leftist thinking. I know that such a confrontation won’t turn the masses into changers, but we need it to reach some people to get a hearing on the national level about national policies. We also need it to provide more coherent conservative talking points to local and state politicians who may do good things like lowering taxes or creating jobs. Cruz and Fiorino get this.

    The problem is that the left is constantly promoting feel-good solutions that never get to the root of the problem, be it Michelle’s thinking that eating habits will change based on school menus, to BO’s thinking that a 24 year old thug who can’t read will become a good father and provider by letting him out of jail early. Someone has to address the root causes of problems and do so in cooperation with some of the grass roots who are affected. This is what Ryan is trying to do.

    I personally think we need all types–the Ryans, the Kasichs and the Bushes, but we need someone at the top who can bring them together under a philosophical roof that ordinary people can understand. I think Cruz could do this if he starts to emphasize his ability to prioritize our problems and stand up on the most important while compromising on others. If he can identify the roots of our problems and give the governors both latitude and praise for their work in chipping away at the behomoth that is paralyzing us, he could be an excellent president.

  45. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Dennis,

    “After 9/11 George Bush made the dangerous statement that Islam is a religion of peace.”

    Agreed. The adviser who fed Bush that POV was the aged Islamic historian Bernard Lewis. Which raises troubling questions about Lewis.

    “His national policy after 9/11 made us feel he was doing something but unfortunately it was completely misguided.”

    Yes, Bush’s neocon strategy was founded upon the faulty premise that a universal aspiration for self-determination superseded cultural and religious imperatives.

    “Because of his illusions about the potential for freedom in Islamic culture Bush managed to expend great resources and many American lives with little to show for it.”

    Somewhat untrue. That was Bush’s motivation but not the strategic rationale for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The Bush administration’s rationale in invading Iraq was to send a message that the status quo had fundamentally changed.

    That message was intended for two groups, first to the rogue nations that offer territorial refuge and logistical support to terrorist organizations AND secondly to the enabling nations (Russia, China and the EU) who, mainly in the UN, prevent effective retaliation against the rogue nations.

    “Rogue states never turn out to be quite the pariah’s they are deemed. They are only able to cause, or at least threaten to cause, mayhem because they enjoy the covert support – usually by means of technology transfers – of one or more major powers within the charmed circle of global “good guys”. Margaret Thatcher

    What caused the failure of Bush’s strategy was the loss of support from the public, which was due to the continual attacks from the democrats and their propaganda organ, the mass media.

    “When he removed Saddam Hassein’s secular Baathist regime he removed a major enemy of the Islamist regime in Iran which greatly strengthened them.”

    That was an inevitable consequence of the failure of Bush’s WoT strategy, a failure directly attributable to the Left. To hamstring Bush, the left betrayed America. Had the Left placed the West’s survival above ideology, Iran would have backed down, just as Ghaddafi did and we would not now be facing a nuclear Iran.

  46. Lurch Says:

    all this consternation over someone repeating a point is just so much BS. If you want people to get your point, you have to REPEAT your point. I believe the minimum is three times.

    and anyone who really believes that Obama hadn’t known what he was doing to America during his two terms in office, I have a bridge to sell you.

  47. Richard Saunders Says:

    Geoffrey B — I don’t think Bush’s message was intended for either the rogue nations nor the enabler nations — it was intended to enable our “friends” in the Middle East to get on board with overthrowing Saddam Hussein. And maybe even, to get our “friends” to stop funding Wahabi-ism and hence, terrorism.

    While Bush’s strategy did have some elements of neocon (the politics formerly known as ‘Liberal”) democracy-spreading (he was very influenced by Sharansky’s book), the main purpose was, as Eriic and I have pointed out, to overthrow Saddam, put in place a cooperative government and leave a large number of US troops in the heart of the Middle East.

    As you say, the strategy was defeated by “the continual attacks from the democrats and their propaganda organ, the mass media.”

    BTW, Dennis, Saddam could tell which way the wind was blowing in the Islamic world, and was increasingly Islamizing his regime.

  48. expat Says:

    Richard,
    In addition , Saddam may not have cared for Allah, but he definitely was part of the Muslim strong man culture. Plus, he was aiming his arrows at us, not directly, but by making us look weak at the UN and within the Muslim world.

  49. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “I don’t think Bush’s message was intended for either the rogue nations nor the enabler nations — it was intended to enable our “friends” in the Middle East to get on board with overthrowing Saddam Hussein. And maybe even, to get our “friends” to stop funding Wahabi-ism and hence, terrorism.” Richard

    The secondary effect of getting the Saudi’s, Qatar, etc. to drop their funding of terrorism was certainly hoped for but our “friends” in the Middle East lacked both the ability and will to overthrow Saddam Hussein. That assertion is supported by those same funders of jihad abstaining from directly confronting ISIS, which militarily is much less strong than was Saddam. (Yemen is directly on the Saudi’s south border, which is the only reason they’re fighting and, they’re loosing, despite air superiority)

    I’m certain that the message was intended for both the rogue nations and the enabler nations and, that assertion is supported by Ghaddaffi’s reaction of loudly announcing the dropping of his pursuit of nukes. He got the message. On the other hand, the Iranians being religious fanatics would only have been convinced had the ‘coalition forces, after destroying the Iraq military, turned and headed for the Iranian border, giving Iran 24 hours to submit.

    Any “War on Terror” must account for the rogue nations and enabling nations to have any chance of success. Whether Bush was clear on that or not, it is a certainty that Cheney was clear on it and would have insisted on a strategy that recognized and purported to deal with those factors. And without Cheney’s endorsement, Bush would never have approved the neocon strategy.

  50. Richard Saunders Says:

    Geoffrey B — Rumsfield also, I’m sure.

  51. J.J. Says:

    When Rubio says, “Obama knew exactly what he was doing,” what image appears in your brain?

    In my brain it brings an image of a crafty villain who is plotting to destroy the country. It is a dissonant message for those who don’t think Obama’s “failures” are intentional. Christie is obviously one of them. He seems to believe that the failures of Obama’s tenure are the result of inexperience, not conscious decisions based on Obama’s ideology. That makes me think that Christie is not very perceptive about the issues.

    I know many people in my neighborhood who do not believe that Obama is intentionally screwing up the country. Some of them believe that the country’s problems are probably because he is inexperienced. IMO, you need to connect the problems/failures to his ideology and that he has been rather successful in carrying out his policies, which has led to our present problems because the policies are wrong.

    Rubio said that Obama is trying to make us more like Europe or words to that effect. That statement does not register with many LIVs because they may actually think of Europe as a rather interesting place filled with museums, battlefields, churches, and other interesting antiquities. They wonder why being more like Europe is a bad thing. The vast majority of LIVs are not well informed on economic, political, and governmental issues. They are more interested in their neighborhood charity work, their book clubs, their vacation outings, keeping up with their neighbors, and other such things than they are in the meaning of progressive economic and political policies or why the country is floundering.

    Recently a neighbor was complaining about the state of affairs in the country. I began an explanation of how Obama’s policies have thwarted progress both economically and in the GWOT. He became quite agitated and red in the face. “I don’t know about that. You could be right, but it just makes my head hurt to try to decipher it. I don’t like to think about it!” End of conversation. He is typical of my neighbors. All well meaning, decent people, but without a clue when it comes to issues on a national or international level. Yet they vote.

  52. expat Says:

    J.J.,
    Inexperience may part of Obama’s problem, but much more serious is his refusal to learn from his own mistakes or take advice. He went into office thinking he was smarter than everyone else. Do these LIV not value humility or curiosity? How could Christie not see this.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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