There are two general camps of thought when it comes to making observations of Marco Rubio over the years.
One is that he plays dumb, while the second is that he’s genuinely dumb. As regular readers of this blog may have noticed, my money’s always been on number two. As to why that is, well, here is exhibit infinity.
Over at The Nation, Ari Berman writes today of an account from October where Rubio was asked a few questions about voting during a campaign stop in Iowa. I would say his answers were classic Rubio, but that would be giving him more credit than he deserves. His responses were kind of stunning, even for him:
Q.: “What about the six-hour long lines to vote in Miami? [During the 2012 election]”
A.: “That is only on Election Day.”
The takeaway being…..good news! There are no lines at the polls during the days when elections are not being held!
This was only half of his wrong answer, because there were also long lines during early voting days. But, as you’ll probably surmise below, he was probably clueless about this too.
Q.: “What is your opinion about the ex-felon voter purge that caused thousands of legitimate voters not to be able to vote? [During the 2000 election in Florida]”
A.: “No one intentionally kept anyone from voting,” Rubio said. “It is unconstitutional and illegal to deliberately keep someone from voting?”
This response is classic Rubio, in that he didn’t answer the question. However, that intentionally keeping someone from voting is unconstitutional and illegal has never stopped Republicans from doing so, especially in Florida, where ex-felons were indeed wrongfully purged from the rolls during the 2000 election. Rubio was, of course, an elected official in the state of Florida at the time. It was an event in our voting history that was pretty hard to miss, so I’ll give him the “just playing dumb” benefit of the doubt on this one. Maybe…
Q.: “What about the restrictions on voting drives that kept the League of Women Voters from conducting their voter drives? [During the 2012 election in Florida]”
A.: “No one intentionally kept anyone from voting.”
Yes, Rubio, as a matter of fact they did. Placing restrictions on registration drives tends to cut down on voter registration, and subsequently, the act of voting. Again, another ugly episode in voter suppression in the state of Florida that was pretty hard to miss, unless you’re Marco Rubio, who has a hard time grasping things going on right under his nose in Washington, much less back home, as is quite apparent in the final part of his Q & A with this voter in Iowa who was much better informed than Marco:
Q.: “Do you support the Voting Rights Amendment Act?” Olsen asked. (He meant to ask about more recent legislation, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, which would restore Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.)
A.: “I am not familiar with that bill,” Rubio said. “If you get me a copy of that bill, I can take a look at it.”
"I am not familiar with that bill?"
“Well, Senator Rubio, it has been out for many months,” Olsen responded. “I am surprised you are not familiar with it.”
We Floridians are sadly not surprised by that at all. Because Rubio showing up in Washington once in a while would be a good way to familiarize himself with the bill, or any other for that matter. But after more than four years of absenteeism before he announced he was running for President, followed by an even worse record after he did, we all know that’s not going to happen. Rubio himself has confirmed this on many occasions.
But there was more:
“Well, get me a copy of it,” Rubio said.
“I will,” Olsen said.
A sitting senator, running for President, asking a voter to go out and fetch him a copy of a bill that would restore a crucial section of the Voting Rights Act that he, the sitting senator, is not “familiar with,” and promising to “take a look at it” when the voter gets it for him.
This is Presidential? How can one make the case he's Presidential material when he's so painfully uninterested in governing, painfully unaware of the issues, and has little interest on getting educated on, or up to speed with all of the above? It’s almost as mind boggling as having an entire city in the news for being poisoned by a fellow Republican and Rubio saying that isn’t something he’s "quite frankly followed." Or denying climate change, ignoring laws and reality, or saying that a weather disaster that killed over 30 people was a "good thing."
This is where my problem with the “just playing dumb” theory of Marco Rubio doesn’t pass the smell test.
If you were running for President, and had some expectation of winning, wouldn’t you at the least pretend to be smart?
Face it people, it’s not an act.
Marco Rubio should just go back to Washington, pack up, and then do us all a favor and pack it in.