A low standard for a ‘rising star’

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Every feature story on Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) includes the same, obligatory references to him being a “rising star” with a very bright future in Republican politics. He appears to have national ambitions – Rubio added a prominent neocon to his foreign policy team this week – and enough institutional support from his party to go far.

But I remain convinced that the hype surrounding the Florida Republican has outpaced his ability to keep up with it. Did you catch Rubio’s interview with Bill O’Reilly this week?

I won’t fact-check the entire 10-minute discussion, but focusing on the White House’s efforts to reduce gun violence, Rubio specifically said President Obama proposed a “gun ban,” despite the fact that President Obama did not, in our reality, propose a gun ban. The comment was followed by this rather hysterical rant.

“I actually think the President and he doesn’t have the guts to admit it – he’s not a believer in the Second Amendment although he states that he is. And that’s what I’m saying. Is these guys don’t – the Second Amendment is in the Constitution. I didn’t write the Constitution. Neither did you, neither did he. If he doesn’t want the Second Amendment to be in the Constitution or if he wants reform the Second Amendment then have the guts to admit that.”

This school-yard bravado probably impressed the GOP base, but this rhetoric is incoherent. As Rubio sees it, the president is secretly opposed to the Second Amendment, but the senator who didn’t read Obama’s policy has unique insights, can read between the lines, and knows the truth that the rascally president is hiding.

Rubio also feels comfortable delivering this unhinged message with chest-thumping bluster about Obama not having “the guts” to admit a belief that doesn’t exist.

Can someone remind me why the political world expects voters to take this guy seriously as a national leader?

During his tenure in Washington, his most notable legislative accomplishment has been sponsoring “a resolution designating September 2011 as National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.” Rubio hopes to build on this record by copying President Obama’s immigration policy.

His breakthrough moment in 2012 came when he seemed troubled by a question on how old the planet is, which came on the heels of Rubio arguing that George W. Bush “did a fantastic job” as president.

Rubio may have national ambitions, but I’m not convinced he’s ready for prime time.

Marco Rubio

A low standard for a 'rising star'

Updated