The most common formulation for political failure in a presidential campaign is this: It was too little, too late. But in the case of Marco Rubio, it was too little, too soon.
Rubio withdrew from the presidential race Tuesday, another patch of bloodstained pavement on Trump Boulevard. Our self-described favorite son managed to lose 66 of the 67 counties in Florida to a bloated, orange buffoon with genetically engineered hair.
How did Rubio achieve this grand face-plant on his home turf? In the end, Rubio was the first millennial presidential candidate, and he embodied the narcissistic worst of the selfie generation. He didn’t accomplish anything, rarely showed up for work, and was convinced he deserved a promotion.
It was Rubio who launched his campaign with these unintentionally prophetic words in the summer of 2015:
“I have heard some suggest that I should step aside and wait my turn. But I cannot. Because I believe our very identity as an exceptional nation is at stake, and I can make a difference as President.”
It was a classically self-absorbed Rubio take: Only he was capable of leading America in these uniquely turbulent times. I remember being floored when I heard those words because I had witnessed firsthand Rubio’s tenure as Speaker of the Florida House, and I knew he talked a good game but rarely delivered.
The sad reality was that Rubio spent a great deal of time hanging out with the Miami-Dade legislative delegation at the back of the chamber while he delegated the gavel to someone else. Despite the flashy promise of his “100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future” book, very few of his ideas ever made the leap into reality. It’s the same lack of commitment to the tedious work of true public service that left Rick Santorum struggling to identify a single accomplishment Rubio had achieved.
During the rest of the campaign, pundits will say it was when Rubio started making penis jokes on the trail that he revealed his shallowness. They’re wrong. His much greater shallowness was revealed when, for more than six months, he stood absolutely silent while Donald Trump berated Americans because of their gender, ethnicity or religion.
When it was time to stand up for average Americans, Marco Rubio made the crass political calculation that he risked losing the opportunity to steal Trump voters if he disparaged Trump.
All that was necessary for Trump to triumph was for good men to say nothing, and Rubio chose that coward’s course.
Marco, Floridians resoundingly answered the question you implicitly raised in your announcement speech: You should have waited your turn. And, if there’s any karmic justice in the political process, you won’t be given another.
Peter Schorsch is a new media publisher and political consultant based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Column courtesy of Context Florida.