“At times, Rubio’s biography, his youth and his eloquence seemed to make him the natural candidate for a party in search of What Comes Next. And in certain ways he was victimized by a conservative electorate that fears the future, that wants any “new” synthesis to simply recreate the glories of a vanished American past.
But he was also a victim of his own fateful look backward, his assumption that what worked for the last Republican president could be made to work again. It didn’t, it couldn’t, and it probably won’t be tried again: Whoever wins the nomination in 2016, George W. Bush has gone down to defeat.”
Calling what Rubio was peddling “Bushism” probably exaggerates by considerable degree the coherence and consistency of policy under the administration of George W. Bush. It is easy to identify the ingredients: social conservatism, Wilsonian adventurism, and an apparently uncontrollable impulse to drop trou and reach for his shoes in the presence of investment bankers and Fortune 500 executives.
But Douthat’s larger point is well taken: the end of Rubio was a rejection of what the GOP has spent the last quarter century trying to peddle. The American right – and I’m talking about regular Joes, not the Party Establishment or the Elites – does not rebottled vintage, and that’s been obvious since long before Marco’s pathetic home state results yesterday. Unfortunately, the Party was too busy working itself into a fit of pique about That Man In The White House to recognize that the rejection of Mitt Romney was less about the man than a shocked reaction to just how blatantly craven to a coalition of the sanctimonious and the privileged the GOP appeared to have become.
Naturally, what Trump – and, to a considerable degree, Sanders – is peddling is not the answer. There are a lot of Americans who are fed up with the status quo. The difference is that some of us have the presence of mind to recognize that anger is not a healthy extension of passion, and that rage is an invitation to be manipulated rather than a latent force for positive change.
But Rubio offered neither the calm experience that would have promised a steady hand upon the tiller of state, nor the imagination and creativity that should have been the hallmarks of his relative youth.
Goodbye, Marco. Let your departure be a reminder for all politicians that there is a difference between timeless values and outdated policies.