While it’s the awkward lunge for the water bottle that everyone will remember from Marco Rubio’s rebuttal of the State of the Union, what the content and tone of the address convey is significant. Yes, Rubio flubbed the speech, although what impact that has upon his chances for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination remains to be seen. However, the defensive tone of the speech, combined with the content, indicates a Republican Party on the ropes that is struggling with messaging and ideas. That was evident from the moment he opened his mouth and began to speak last night.
At the very outset it was clear that Rubio was on the defensive against what Republicans are correctly perceived as wanting to do. He discussed what Republicans didn’t want to do. He launched into the same old, and tired, attacks against President Obama. He effectively called him a communist, socialist, take your pick of various scare tactics used against anyone left of center. It was straight out of the Republican playbook, but with a tone that made clear the speaker was unsure if those scare tactics would work. After all, Mitt Romney ran on those exact same scare tactics and he’s still Former Gov. Romney, while President Obama just delivered another State of the Union address.
Most remarkable, though, was a prescient criticism of the Rubio rebuttal that I heard, although I forgot the person who mentioned it. It basically went along these lines:
Marco Rubio just criticized ‘big’ government by pointing out everything that government has done for him and his family.