Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Rubio Campaign Comes To Minnesota

Marco Rubio is now the Republican establishment candidate this cycle now that Jeb Bush had dropped out. As befits a political season in which no one knows anything, polling taken after Jeb's exit showed Donald Trump gaining strength as some of the former's supporters went to the latter, against all intuition.

Rubio was permanently damaged in the New Hampshire primary debate when he was shown by Gov. Chris Christie to be a shallow, brittle, robotic candidate who is highly scripted and trotted out only in carefully controlled environments. He has one stale stump speech which he delivers as his handlers and bundlers move him about the country like a Stepford candidate before Stepford audiences.

It was to see firsthand this unimpressive performance that brought more than a thousand people to downtown Minneapolis late yesterday afternoon. Crowd estimates were as high as 1600 though there was some dispute as to the real numbers. By any estimation, however, it was a very good sized crowd for a candidate who came in third in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire and barely second in South Carolina. He was in Minnesota the day of the Nevada caucus and moved on from here to Michigan, actually saying "Goodbye Michigan" at the end of his performance instead of Minnesota.

I followed along on Twitter which increasingly is better than real life, except for the penchant of its owners and management to persecute conservatives and conservative ideas on that troubled platform.

The entire event seemed like some sort of elaborate ritual which no longer had any power or meaning but which went on regardless because the production company no longer had any idea what to put on stage and the audience had an inability to desire anything different from that which had come before.

In short, more cowbell in an election cycle in which cowbells were thrown out the window, beginning June 16, 2015.

No matter, this is Minnesota republicans, who haven't managed to win a statewide race in more than decade. Like the incompetence of the consultant class nationally, state republicans, activists and vendors care demonstrably more for making money than for any given candidate to actually win.

To get a sense of just how marooned the Minnesota republican establishment has become, look at this interview between Neil Cavuto and Saudi Arabian lobbyist and former Senator Norm Coleman. The reason proffered to vote for Rubio is that he isn't Trump. Neither is Ted Cruz so what's the case for Marco? Coleman trots out the usual reasons but none are persuasive, either individually or cumulatively. You can watch that video by clicking here.

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I saw some tweets during the Rubio rally with the hashtag "grow the party." Well one candidate is doing this in ways unimaginable until just recently and that candidate isn't the donors' choice Rubio. When I saw pictures of the event there didn't seem to be many minorities so what exactly was being grown remained unknown to me. One progressive asked on Twitter if Rubio made any mention of the Iron Range to which I replied that those uploads hadn't been installed yet.

The Rubio campaign is a last ditch effort to return things to the status quo before Trump announced and changed the political landscape of America forever. It's not possible to do that, of course, but those who made good livings off of not being very good, but instead connected, aren't willing to see the corrupt system that supported them die off without a fight. 

One of the animating issues in this presidential race is illegal immigration and its disastrous effects on our nation. Without Trump in the race the subject would never have gotten the attention and traction that it has. Republican donors want cheap labor at any cost and democrats want uneducated, unskilled voters dependent on government largesse. It's an unholy alliance that's ruining our country without the consent of the governed, the chief republican proponent of which was Marco Rubio. 

Because I was not following his speech in real time online, I asked a reporter from the Star Tribune if Rubio had addressed immigration whatsoever in his remarks. The reply I received: no. There you have it. Or rather, don't.

It's emblematic of Minnesota republicans to crowd behind a candidate who has no clear path to the nomination, who cannot name a single state he will win in next Tuesday's Super Tuesday primary and where he leads the polling in exactly none of the states that will vote. This, this is the political acumen of Minnesota republicans who in the last presidential caucus went with that winner Rick Santorum. 

The Minnesota Marco rally was surreal because it took place as though the old order wasn't under assault and failing badly, as though Trump hadn't thoroughly upended politics in ways never seen before and as though the Rubio campaign didn't need to adjust in any meaningful way. Another word for this is denial. The dog food is served. Eat the damn dog food. 

The scene was so out of touch with reality that at one point I tweeted it reminded me of the Russian Provisional Government following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, only not when it first was formed but instead in September, 1917.

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