Marco Rubio revealed that his greatest strength is his greatest weakness at Saturday night’s GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire.
When confronted by Chris Christie with the less-than-creative observation that the Senator’s entire campaign revolves around him regurgitating carefully poll-tested “25-second speeches,” Marco Rubio regurgitated the same talking point again and again on Sunday.
The line “Obama knows exactly what he’s doing” is a telltale example of the mini-Trump, hyper-pessimistic belligerence that has defined Rubio’s campaign, which has begun to drown in an undertow of anti-Muslim bigotry. Rubio’s sinister suggestion about the president arises from the fevered swamps of the Republican right , where Dinesh D’Souza gets rich and gets jailed while suggesting that Obama has a secret anti-colonialist plan to ruin America. Newt Gingrich picked up this strain of conspiratorial nonsense in 2012, although since then it has largely dissipated into the wingnut-o-sphere as the nation experienced the best two years of job creation since the late 1990s.
To say “Obama knows exactly what he’s doing” sounds like a scary proposition in the GOP primary, where voters believe he is about to seize their guns and replace them with health insurance. But it’s actually a great election talking point. And if a Democratic candidate is elected in November, it will largely be the result of Barack Obama’s continued popularity.
The president’s approval rating is flirting with 50 percent, giving him the highest favorable rating of any active national political figure by far. When Gallup asked Americans last month whether they’re better off now than eight years ago, 50 percent said, “Yes.” In this ultra-partisan atmosphere that is the closest thing you’re going to get to a consensus.
Marco Rubio, on the other hand, is forced to flee his immigration bill, which is the closest thing to an accomplishment in his Senate career. Whenever he has been faced with a major challenge — in his State of the Union response, when House Republicans refused to even vote on his bill, during Saturday’s debate — he has crumbled.
Still, the press loves his face and GOP donors love his pliability. What plutocrat wouldn’t love a guy who wants to cut the richest Americans’ tax rate to zero?
But Rubio is right about Barack Obama. He clearly knows exactly what he’s doing Because despite inevitable imperfections and failings, especially in Syria and the Veterans Administration, and amidst multifarious disasters that he inherited, Obama’s successes far outshine his limitations. Today, our first African-American president heads towards his home stretch as the first president since Eisenhower to conclude a second term without being personally implicated in scandal.
Here are five examples of Barack Obama knowing exactly what he’s doing.
- We have the best economy in the world.
Republicans have been clear that president is only responsible for jobs created or stock market conditions when the news is bad. America’s economy isn’t great — unless you compare it to the rest of this century and the rest of the world. While our economy still needs tons of improvement to repair the hollowing out of decades of conservative policies, we’ve experienced more than six years of unfettered private sector job growth, an undisputed record. Best of all, job creation picked up dramatically since taxes went up on the rich and Obamacare went into full effect, disproving conservative economic nostrums yet again.
- Our uninsured rate is at a historic low.
About nine out of ten Americans now have health insurance. Seventeen million Americans gaining coverage doesn’t mean health care in America is perfect. It just means Obama knows what he’s doing. At the very least he has a lot better sense of what he’s doing than the last president, who numbly watched about 8 million Americans lose their insurance.
- He’s gotten the rest of the world, including China, to commit to fighting climate change.
Marco Rubio lives in a state that’s literally sinking into the the horrors of global warming. But the only evidence he needs to assure us that climate change doesn’t exist are checks from his donors. Obama, however, accepts climate science and has done more than all other presidents combined to fight it. His greatest accomplishment on this front — even greater than building a clean energy industry that could save the world via the Stimulus — is taking away the right’s favorite excuse for doing nothing about this looming disaster. He “pushed publicly and privately for China to commit to serious, meaningful reductions in emissions. The result was a landmark bilateral agreement where, for the first time, China agreed to concrete targets for emissions reductions. That, in turn, helped pave the way for the COP21 agreement reached in Paris,” explained Brandon Fureigh of the Truman National Security Project.
- Iran has given up 99 percent of its uranium peacefully.
As we continue to deal with the endless consequences of a war we launched to remove weapons of mass destruction that didn’t actually exist, Obama has led the global effort to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. Thus far the government in Tehran has complied fully with the agreement and willingly avoided any path that could lead to it gaining such a weapon. “And even if the Iranians were to attempt to produce enough nuclear fuel for a bomb, it will now take them more than a year to do so,” the New York Times editorial board noted. “Before the agreement, that breakout time was two to three months.”
- Under Obama, abortions and teen pregnancies have fallen to new lows.
If you actually care about preventing abortions, you should be a huge fan of Barack Obama. Rubio said that he’d be willing to lose an election to defend his view that abortion should become illegal, even in cases of rape and incest. But the biggest difference between Rubio and Obama is that Obama prevents abortions. The abortion rate today is about half of what it was in 1976. Teen pregnancies are at an all-time low. Here is the greatest irony of the so-called life debate: Abortion is more common where it’s illegal. And if you want to prevent abortions, you do the opposite of what Republicans did in Texas by defunding Planned Parenthood and denying poor women access to health care. Instead, you do what Barack Obama did, with the greatest expansion of contraception coverage in American history via the Affordable Care Act, which may have been the one thing the U.S. government has done that will prevent the most abortions. Of course, Marco Rubio wants to repeal it.