The boys and girls in the bubble(s): Marco Rubio had a strange five minutes last Saturday night.
Derided all week as the heavily memorized "boy in the bubble," he seemed to go out of his way to enact the critique in an exchange with his week-long tormentor, Chris Christie.
What the heck did Rubio do? He stated an ugly claim about Obama, then recited it three more times, almost verbatim, while under attack from Christie. All in less than five minutes!
On this videotape of the debate, you can see Rubio state his point for the first time at 18:15, roughly ten minutes into the debate. At 22:40, you can see him repeat his point for the third separate time.
Mathematically, that means he stated his talking point four separate times. Four times, in just a bit under five minutes!
It looked even stranger than it sounds; many people noticed. This morning, on Morning Joe, Willie Haskell-Geist Jr. literally said that his eight-year-old daughter looked up from her Legos to remark on the repetition!
Who knows? It could even be true. Warning, though—it's Morning Joe!
(This strangest of all "cable news" programs has been waging propaganda wars against Candidate Clinton and Candidate Rubio, while love-love-love-love loving their Trump. For a report about one possible motive concerning Rubio, you can just click here.)
Should we decide our elections this way? On balance, we would say no, but Rubio did create a strange moment. Equally strange? The difficulty the press corps has had in counting up the number of times the candidate stated his memorized point.
In Sunday's hard-copy New York Times, two different reports gave the impression that Rubio had stated his point just two times in all. Readers might therefore have been puzzled by all the fuss about the flap. But so it goes in the glorious Times, our most hapless Potemkin newspaper.
Candidate Rubio, "the boy in the bubble," authored a rather strange moment last Saturday night. That's where Paul Krugman starts his new column—but doggone it! Even Krugman seems to have counted wrong:
KRUGMAN (2/8/16): By now everyone who follows politics knows about Marco Rubio’s software-glitch performance in Saturday’s Republican debate. (I’d say broken-record performance, but that would be showing my age.) Not only did he respond to a challenge from Chris Christie about his lack of achievements by repeating, verbatim, the same line from his stump speech he had used a moment earlier; when Mr. Christie mocked his canned delivery, he repeated the same line yet again.From that, you'd think that Rubio stated his point three times in all. If you watch that videotape, you can see that the count is four. (See text of his statements below.)
Whatever! Krugman goes on to offer an insightful column about the current team of Republican candidates, and about the GOP writ large.
Krugman notes the profusion of bogus claims Republican candidates routinely recite in the normal course of debate and discussion—the way they "spout canned talking points that are divorced from reality." By the end of his column, he's using the "bubble" metaphor too, though in a somewhat different way:
KRUGMAN: But don’t all politicians spout canned answers that bear little relationship to reality? No.As a general matter, we tend to agree with Krugman's analysis. We tend to agree that "Foxification" has helped create a world in which "Republican primary voters live in a media bubble into which awkward facts can’t penetrate."
Like her or not, Hillary Clinton is a genuine policy wonk, who can think on her feet and clearly knows what she is talking about on many issues. Bernie Sanders is much more of a one-note candidate, but at least his signature issue—rising inequality and the effects of money on politics—reflects real concerns.
When you revisit Democratic debates after what went down Saturday, it doesn’t feel as if you’re watching a different party, it feels as if you’ve entered a different intellectual and moral universe.
So how did this happen to the G.O.P.? In a direct sense, I suspect that it has a lot to do with Foxification, the way Republican primary voters live in a media bubble into which awkward facts can’t penetrate. But there must be deeper causes behind the creation of that bubble.
Whatever the ultimate reason, however, the point is that while Mr. Rubio did indeed make a fool of himself on Saturday, he wasn’t the only person on that stage spouting canned talking points that are divorced from reality. They all were, even if the other candidates managed to avoid repeating themselves word for word.
Having said that, we think he goes a bit too easy on Us—on the ever-growing bubble within which we the liberals function.
Is there any way in which we the liberals "live in a bubble into which awkward facts can’t penetrate?" Increasingly, Krugman has suggested that Candidate Sanders and his supporters live in something resembling a bubble of that type.
In our view, the same is true of Candidate Clinton and her supporters up to some sort of point. More and more, it's plainly true of the liberal world as a whole.
It's always easy to spot the bubble encasing the other tribe. This week, as we finish our current report, we'll make one last attempt at describing our own tribe's growing bubble.
Is our bubble as bad as their bubble? In some ways, our bubble is worse! We say that because the bubble in question is ours, and therefore is our responsibility.
Without any question, the other tribe's bubble is striking, but we have a bubble too. And within that bubble, we live on the fuel known as tribal hatred, as groups have done since we the humans first crawled out of the swamp, emerging up into the mud.
Many academics and scholars are now saying that the year just past was, to use their unpleasant term, a year of liberal loathing. Next week, we expect to open a new pavilion in which we'll be exploring a whole different set of topics.
This week, we plan to make one last attempt to outline our own tribe's unfortunate hatred and loathing. We think that loathing is a bad look. We doubt that it serves the world's interests.
Tomorrow: From December 10, videotape of four voters!
The gentleman's four recitations: Starting at 18:15 on that videotape, you can see Candidate Rubio make the four declarations shown below.
He does so in less than five minutes. In the process, he created a very strange look. Just ask Willie's daughter!
RUBIO (2/6/16): And let's dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country, to make America more like the rest of the world. That's why he passed Obamacare and the stimulus and Dodd-Frank and the deal with Iran. It is a systematic effort to change America.By our analysts' count, Rubio stated this point four times. As you can see on that videotape, it happened in less than five minutes.
RUBIO: But I would add this. Let's dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. He is trying to change this country. He wants America to become more like the rest of the world. We don't want to be like the rest of the world, we want to be the United States of America. And when I'm elected president, this will become, once again, the single greatest nation in the history of the world, not the disaster Barack Obama has imposed upon us.
RUBIO: Here's the bottom line. This notion that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing is just not true. He knows exactly what he's doing.
RUBIO: We have to understand what we're going through here. We are not facing a president that doesn't know what he's doing. He knows what he is doing. That's why he's done the things he's done. That's why we have a president that passed Obamacare and the stimulus. All this damage that he's done to America is deliberate.