Posts Tagged ‘Marco Rubio’

Yup. He won second place in the Nevada caucus last night. Which is like winning first place in Rubio-land. He said on the TV this morning that he feels “good about our second-place finish.” Congratulations!

Meanwhile, in the real world, Trump won again. The inevitability of his nomination is beginning to seem, well, inevitable. But a glimmer of hope for sane Americans can be found in the 1992 presidential campaign, where Bill Clinton lost the first four primaries, and nine of the first ten. Bob Dole lost four out of the first five on the Republican side in 1996. So I guess Rubio isn’t out of this thing entirely.

How about Ted Cruz? Hard to see a path for him.

John Kasich today: “Of course I’m staying in. Why would I drop out when I’ve got the best chance to be the nominee outside of Trump?” Memo to John: You’re gonna need to win at some point. Or at least come in second so that you can claim you won.

And we can’t forget Ben Carson, another card carrying member of the deep bench. Apparently he’s finally come to the realization that his campaign is nothing but a scam. “We had people who didn’t really seem to understand finances,” a laughing Carson told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on “CNN Newsroom,” adding, “or maybe they did—maybe they were doing it on purpose.”

And lastly: Whomever is the Democratic nominee had better not take Trump lightly, assuming he is the Republican nominee. Paul Waldman outlines Trump’s potential strengths in the general election.

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Yes, Marco is the big winner of the night! By coming in third. Or maybe second. And he’s not talking participation trophy here. No, he’s a winner, yes he is! Sheesh. At least he’s getting a lot of practice delivering his victory speech for when he actually needs it. If he ever does.

The big news, of course, is that the Donald Trump felled another member of The Deep Bench, namely Jeb! Bush. The Deep Bench was so deep–remember?–that a complete novice of a politician has laid waste to most of them. I feel a little sad for Jeb!. I mean, he was always supposed to be the smart one, but in the end he was bested by his dumb brother. That’s gotta sting. You know it does. But I’m also a little sad for Jeb! because he was really just about the only one to pushback against Trump’s ugly bigotry. So now the Republicans get to own Trump. He is them and they are him.

And we might be better off with him than Rubio, anyway–that is, assuming either one of them can beat Hillary. Matt Yglesias had an interesting piece on Vox the other day, titled “Why I’m more worried about Marco Rubio than Donald Trump.”

Yglesias explains that Rubio’s budget math is “ridiculous.” Remember: Republicans are supposed to be the ones who know how to manage budgets. You’d never know it from their presidential candidates.

Rubio has proposed a tax cut that will reduce federal revenue by $6.8 trillion over 10 years. Numbers that large don’t mean anything to people, so for comparison’s sake let’s say that if we entirely eliminated American military spending over that period we still couldn’t quite pay for it.

But of course Rubio doesn’t want to eliminate military spending — he wants to spend more. He also promises to avoid any cuts to Social Security and Medicare for people currently at or near retirement. For good measure, he is also proposing a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. You could eliminate the entire non-defense discretionary budget and you’d still need $100 billion to $200 billion more per year in cuts to make this work.

This is, of course, totally unworkable. And the process that led Rubio to this point is telling and troubling.

Rubio entered the Senate at a time when an intellectual movement known as “reform” was hot in conservative circles, which argued that Republicans should concentrate less on supply-side tax cuts and more on tax policy focused on the working class. This originally took the form of a $2.4 trillion tax cut plan crafted by Utah Sen. Mike Lee that Rubio signed on to but then kept transforming into a larger and more regressive tax cut, as Rubio came under pressure from the supply-side wing of the party and it became clear that the constituency for “reform” conservatism was limited to a handful of media figures. Eager to prove that his dalliance with the reformocons was over, he actually ended up proposing to entirely eliminate taxes on investment income, meaning that billionaire captains of industry could end up paying nothing at all.

The upshot is a plan that is costly and regressive, yet paired with other commitments around entitlements, military spending, and constitutional amendments that make it completely impossible.

Trump’s tax plan is even costlier than Rubio’s by most measures. But in his defense, he barely ever talks about it and hasn’t compounded the cost problem with a balanced-budget amendment or a firm commitment to enormous quantities of new military spending.

Then there’s Rubio’s foreign policy:

Rubio’s approach to world affairs essentially repeats the “let’s have it all and who cares if it adds up” mentality of his fiscal policy. His solution to every problem is to confront some foreign country more aggressively, with no regard to the idea of trade-offs or tensions between goals or limits to how much the United States can bite off at any particular time.

There’s more in the article. I guess we shouldn’t worry too much until Rubio actually wins something.

I got a chuckle out of this article the other day. It seems that even Rubio’s Senate colleagues and fellow Republicans can’t think of a single thing Rubio has, er, accomplished. Rick Santorum appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, where host Joe Scarborough, who seems to be in the tank for his pal, The Donald, asked Santorum a simple question.

Asked repeatedly to name a single one of Sen. Marco Rubio’s accomplishments while serving five years as a U.S. senator representing Florida, Rick Santorum – who just endorsed the GOP lawmaker after bowing out of the presidential race himself on Wednesday – struggled to come up with any during an appearance Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Santorum floundered right off the bat when asked to list Rubio’s “top accomplishment” while in office. “Well, I mean, I would just say that this is a guy who’s been able to, No. 1, win a tough election in Florida and pull people together from a variety of different spots. This is a guy that I think can work together with people,” he said. “That’s the thing I like about him the most.”

Yet host Joe Scarborough didn’t ask which personal quality of Rubio’s Santorum liked the most. He asked for just one standout accomplishment – so he pressed the former Pennsylvania senator again: “So he can win, but he’s been in the Senate for four years. Can you name his top accomplishment in the Senate, actually working in the Senate doing something that tilted your decision to Marco Rubio?”

Santorum danced around the question for a second time, concluding that “I guess it’s hard to say there are accomplishments” when a junior senator is working in a government “where nothing gets done.”

“Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski called the exchange with Santorum “disturbing.”

Meanwhile, Scarborough brought up the fact that Republicans have been in the Senate majority for the past two years, and asked for a third time: “Can you name one thing that he’s passed in the last two years?” eventually pleading with Santorum to “like one accomplishment – just one, just one – that Marco achieved.”

Santorum then blamed President Obama for Rubio’s lack of accomplishments in the Senate, saying “he spent four years in the United States Senate being frustrated like everybody else that nothing got done, and then you can’t point to him and say nothing got done and therefore he has no accomplishments. The problem is we have a president who doesn’t work with people.”

Eventually, however, Santorum did offer an example of a Rubio achievement, albeit a vague one.

“Well, I know he included something that went after the insurance companies in the most recent omnibus. He fought for that, to stop bailing out insurance companies. That’s one thing I’m familiar that I just saw recently, ” he said. “But – and again, he was on the campaign trail and accomplished that. The bottom line is there isn’t a lot of accomplishments, Joe, and I just don’t think it’s a fair question to say.”

Oh. It’s Obama’s fault. And Rubio was on the campaign trail and, you know, didn’t have time to actually accomplish anything. Also, it’s not fair to ask about Rubio’s accomplishments. Got it.

So it didn’t take more than an hour or two after Antonin Scalia’s death for Republican leaders to insist that President Obama has no right to nominate a successor to Scalia. It’s all nakedly political, of course, the hypocrisy clear in chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley’s shifting views.

Marco Rubio insists that President Obama, with nearly a year to go in his four-year term, is already a “lame duck” president. Look, we all know what this really is: Republicans have never accepted the legitimacy of President Barack Obama. As Amanda Marcotte writes, “Everyone knows the real reason is the conservative base has never accepted that a black Democrat could be a legitimately elected President, and after 7 years of having to live with a President the majority of white voters voted against, Republicans are going to use this as a chance to throw a nationwide temper tantrum.”

But this does set up an interesting dynamic to the 2016 presidential election, as Marcotte explains:

This is especially delicious since the only Republican candidate who has a chance to walk away from this unscathed — maybe even finding a way to turn it to his advantage— is Donald Trump. The two candidates who are currently best positioned to unseat Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, are both senators and both have indicated their willingness to join their fellow Republicans in the Senate in blocking whoever Obama nominates, just because he nominated them. The bad loser vibe, where Republicans punish not just Obama but the whole country because they refuse to accept he won the 2012 election fair and square, will rub off on them.

Trump, however, has a real chance here to score some points. Vague promises that he will straighten up D.C. and end all this pointless bickering and gridlock— because he’s a winner who gets things done or whatever empty braggadocio he wants to throw out— and he can set himself apart from Cruz and Rubio, all without actually having to commit to either offending the Obama-hating base or having to endorse the astounding immaturity that has infected every last member of the congressional Republican caucus.

All of which is simply fantastic for whatever Democrat wins the nomination, of course, but there will likely be down ticket effects, too. Every single Democrat running for Congress will be able to point to this story about Republican-caused gridlock and promise that electing them will help ungum the works. It’ll be a simple, effective pitch that happens to have the benefit of being completely true.

Anyway, more folks weigh in on who they think President Obama will nominate for the vacancy caused by the death of Antonin Scalia.

Robert Reich claims to have inside information as to the administration’s thinking:

My mole in the White House tells me Obama will nominate 46-year-old Judge Sri Srinivasan, an Indian-American jurist who Obama nominated in 2013 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — and the Senate confirmed unanimously. Having confirmed him unanimously just three years ago, it would be difficult (but hardly impossible) for Republicans to oppose him now. (Twelve former Solicitors General, including Republican notables as Paul Clement and Kenneth Starr had endorsed his confirmation. Moreover, the D.C. Circuit has long been a Supreme Court farm team – Scalia himself, along with John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were judges there before ascending to the Supreme Court.)

But is Srinivasan progressive? He had been Obama’s principal Deputy Solicitor General before the nomination, arguing Supreme Court cases in support of affirmative action and against Indiana’s restrictive voter ID law, for example. But this record doesn’t prove much. (Having once worked as an assistant Solicitor General, I know the inhabitants of that office will argue whatever halfway respectable arguments the Justice Department and, indirectly, the President, wants made.)

Before the Obama administration, Srinivasan worked for five years in George W. Bush’s Justice Department. Prior to that, as an attorney in the private firm of O’Melveny & Myers, he defended Exxon Mobil in a lawsuit brought by Indonesians who accused the company’s security forces of torture, murder, and other violations against their people; successfully represented a newspaper that fired its employees for unionizing; and defended Enron’s former CEO, Jeffrey Skilling, later convicted for financial fraud. But in these instances, too, it could be argued he was just representing clients. Another clue: After graduating Stanford Law School in 1995, Srinivasan clerked for two Republican-appointed jurists – Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor – both of whom were considered moderate.

Since he became a judge on the D.C. Circuit, he hasn’t tipped his hand. But I discovered one morsel of information that might interest you: In 2000, he worked on Al Gore’s legal team in the infamous Supreme Court case of “Bush v. Gore.”
My suspicion is Obama couldn’t do better than Srinivasan. No other nominee with get a majority of Senate votes. What do you think?

Then there’s the outside-the-box theory that Obama should nominate Nevada Republican governor Brian Sandoval:

Sandoval began his political career in Nevada’s state assembly, before serving on the state gaming commission and as attorney general. He was nominated to a seat on the U.S. District Court by President George W. Bush, on the recommendation of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — who may have worried that Sandoval was plotting a bid for Reid’s Senate seat. Sandoval won confirmation by an 89-0 margin; four years later, he quit to run for governor.

The first Hispanic governor in Nevada’s history, Sandoval won re-election in 2014 with more than 70 percent of the vote, after Democrats failed to find a serious candidate to take on the long-shot challenge. He has the political experience of Earl Warren, and the combined political and judicial experience of Sandra Day O’Connor, both of whom were nominated for the high court by Republican presidents — albeit in very different eras.

But Sandoval does not fit the mold of traditional Republican, even in Western states where the party embraces a more libertarian bent. He is unabashedly pro-choice, and he was the only Republican governor to both expand Medicaid and establish a state-run health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act. Though he opposed Obama’s signature domestic achievement from the start, Sandoval has said that it became the law of the land after the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality.

In choosing Sandoval, Obama would have the opportunity to cement another part of his legacy. The candidate who ran under the banner of hope and change is also the candidate who paid for more negative advertisements than any other in history. His fundraising ability virtually single-handedly rendered irrelevant the system of federal campaign-matching funds. Obama is, without doubt, as political as most of his predecessors.

And picking a Hispanic Republican who would likely be blocked by a Republican Senate would have starkly political consequences, especially in the months leading to a presidential election. Republicans are already on thin ice with Hispanic voters, who have voted increasingly for Democrats in recent years: George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. Mitt Romney won just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012.

A “deep bench” update…

I didn’t watch the entire Republican debate last night, but I watched enough. Most people are talking about the poor showing of Marco Rubio, particularly his moment of “flat out panic and mental paralysis,” repeating the same phrase over and over: “Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.” As far as repetition, many observers have noted for a while that Marco’s debate performances mostly consist of regurgitating the same old talking points he uses in his stump speeches, which also vary little from one giving to the next.

But let’s also remember that Rubio used to claim that President Obama didn’t know what he’s doing. Now, he can’t stop himself from repeating that Obama does know what he’s doing. Marco, Marco, Marco… Do you have any convictions that you will stick to? Of course, this is the fundamental problem of conservative Obama hatred: They can’t decide whether he’s an incompetent, bumbling fool, or a devious, brilliant schemer bent on intentionally destroying the United States. They don’t even bother acknowledging their inconsistency; that would require some introspection on their part.

Anyway, I’ve long thought that Rubio comes across as a poor imitation of Barack Obama–leaving aside their ideological differences, of course. I mean, let’s face it, the absurd conservative criticism of Obama–not vetted, uses a teleprompter–just falls apart in the face of Rubio. And David Frum, in a series of tweets last night, made that point devastating clear. Below are the tweets in text form, but you can go here to see them in their original form.

Rubio’s 4x repeat was not an act of excessive message discipline. It was a display of panic at a moment of uncertainty.

Faced with a genuinely new situation, Rubio could not figure out what to do… and so stumbled into doing precisely the wrong thing.

The bug question about Rubio is: can this untested novice cope with the demands of the presidency?

Voters have pitifully little information about hi. In this way, Rubio is NOT like Obama at all.

The question D[emocratic] voters were asking in 2008 was: who’d opposed the Iraq war? Obama had little record – bit was the right record for Ds.

On the central question of 2016, immigration, Rubio go the answer massively wrong from a Republican point of view.

Phyllis Schlafly here massively documents how wrong (from an R point of view) Rubio was http://www.eagleforum.org/immigration/rubio-record.html

Worse, Rubio’s explanations re immigration raise questions about how well he ever understood what he was doing.

Was he merely a personable front man? Was he outwitted by Chuck Schumer? What did he learn from what he himself now describes as error?

Rubio has gotten away with his glibness because of persistent R under-estimation of Barack Obama.

Candidate Obama in 2008 was dangerously untested yes, but he was obviously a man of profound depths.

Obama had laid out his whole philosophy of life in a massive, highly self-aware and very revealing memoir.

But yes, the lack of experience in Obama was grounds for worry. That’s why Obama added Biden to the ticket.

With Rubio, though, Republicans are asked to nominate an unknown quantity – wrong by his own admission on his most important decision.

Republicans are asked to nominate an unknown quantity who has not offered useful information to predict the kind of president he’d be.

Last night, they got a maybe unfair glimpse of the kind of president he’d be when the pressure was on.

It was unnerving – and what has Rubio offered over this campaign to calm those nerves when they twitch?

The world instantly tests new presidents. Nobody can be fully read. But some are more read; some are less – and less is dangerous.

Good Lord. Put CNBC together with the Republican presidential candidates and what do you get? A circus. Clowns on stage, clowns asking the questions. My God.

A few observations:

  • There’s no way Carly can get elected. She has no likable qualities whatsoever. That’s kind of important when you’re running for president.
  • Let’s remember What Chris Christie stands for: “As reported Sunday by Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post, Christie met with 200 citizens at the Jersey shore last week and, regarding state worker retirement benefits, declared: ‘Promises were made that can’t be kept… Welcome to the real world, folks.'” Those were pensions that were earned. They weren’t gifts. Christie doesn’t give a shit.
  • Trump: “I used the bankruptcy laws to my benefit.” We get it, Donald. You use everything to your benefit. Never mind anybody else who got screwed because you welched on your debts.
  • Huckabee is always angry. It’s not a good look for a candidate, if you ask me. But then, conservatives in general seem to always be angry with, well, everything.
  • A note to Marco Rubio: A good, polished answer to the now oft-asked question about your mismanagement of your personal finances. However: I didn’t inherit any money, either. My Dad disappeared when I was a kid. My mom worked a full time job to raise her kids. I had to work to pay for my schooling, too; nobody gave me a single penny of help. On the other hand, I didn’t borrow money to do it. I didn’t buy a second house to have it foreclosed. I didn’t buy extravagances like speedboats that I couldn’t afford. I haven’t raided my IRA. I’ve never intermingled business and personal funds. You did. I’m not impressed.
  • Carson claims he’s had nothing to do with fraudulent Mannatech? Um… Ben Carson: “The wonderful thing about a company like Mannatech is that they recognize that when God made us, He gave us the right fuel. And that fuel was the right kind of healthy food. You know we live in a society that is very sophisticated, and sometimes we’re not able to achieve the original diet. And we have to alter our diet to fit our lifestyle. Many of the natural things are not included in our diet. Basically what the company is doing is trying to find a way to restore natural diet as a medicine or as a mechanism for maintaining health.” See him talk about the virtues of snake oil Mannatech here
  • When asked about H1B visas, Rubio says we need “reforms.” What he means is, we need regulations. He even went on to list a few. For example, before you hire anyone from abroad, you would have to advertise the job for 180 days. You also have to prove that you would pay these people more than you would pay someone else. It cracks me up to listen to these guys claim regulations are from satan while at the same time citing the need for regulations. And then he linked H1B visas to a lack of vocational education. We’re not bringing in auto mechanics on H1B visas, Marco.
  • In addition to the regulations boogeyman, there’s the timeworn conservative complaint that Democrats simply promise freebies to people. So it was interesting to hear Jeb! crow about how his tax plan gives $2000 to every family. On the other hand, Jeb! is toast. Done. Remember when everyone told us he was the smart brother? Maybe, but he’s a terrible politician. But at least his fantasy football team is seven and oh!
  • And another thing. These guys constantly complain that everyone–everyone–is smarter than us hapless Americans. ISIS, Mexico, Iran… Even more amusing is the fact that conservatives actually believe they’re the dumbest of dumb Americans. How many times do we hear about how smart and shrewd those dirty, rotten liberals are–out-manuveuring conservatives at every turn? Why, it’s the reason the liberal agenda is winning. (Oh, sorry, I think I read this type of whining at BV4.)
  • Jeb!: We need regulation for fantasy football because “they can’t regulate themselves.” Dammit! I though regulations were bad for America.
  • Rand Paul: It’s the greatest generation’s fault that Medicare and Social Security are broken, because they “had too many damn kids.” Way to throw the Greatest Generation under the bus, Rand! My son watched that part, then turned and left, muttering, “He has no chance to be president.” Couldn’t agree more.
  • Ted Cruz: Let’s go back to the gold standard!
  • Carly: “We need a proven leader who produces results.” Better start looking for him (or her), Carly, because you haven’t produced any results ever.
  • Trump: “I’m such a great negotiator that I coerced CNBC to cut the length of the debate by an hour! Imagine what I could do for America!”
  • Is CNBC really a part of the “mainstream media”? I think this is the first time I’ve ever watched it. Doesn’t seem very mainstream to me, and judging by their on-screen personalities–clowns like Jim Cramer and Rick Santelli–it’s hard to imagine anyone considering them mainstream.
  • Honesty was almost as big a loser at the third Republican debate as Jeb!. Kevin Drum offers just a few examples.
  • To me, Marco Rubio is the most formidable candidate of the bunch. My money’s on him to get the nomination. Carly has no chance, as noted above. Huckabee is just an angry old man who has no chance. Kasich doesn’t play to the base; he has no chance. Jeb! is just a terrible candidate; Rubio ate him for lunch. Can we just trim the field now?

How often have we heard from conservatives about the deep Republican “bench”? In their telling, there are literally a dozen or more highly qualified candidates just waiting in the wings to take back the White House. And that doesn’t even include such singular talents as Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, who so far have chosen to sit this one out. Why, according to conservatives, any one of these candidates would be a brilliant choice as president.

Then came The Donald who, intentionally or not, exposed the entire field for what it really is. This point was put forth today by, of all people, Rich Lowry, in an article on Politico entitled, “The GOP Field That Failed.”

The rise of Donald Trump is, in part, a function of a vacuum.

He is thriving in a Republican field that is large, talented and, so far, underwhelming. There’s 17 candidates and nothing on. Except Donald Trump.

Now, this has much to do with the media, and with Trump’s unique qualities as a showman. He has the advantage of not caring, about anything apparently — the facts, his reputation, or, ultimately, winning the presidency. In consequence, he is a free man.

The Jorge Ramos incident was Trump in microcosm. He did what no other Republican politician could get away with (having a security guy manhandle a Latino reporter) and displayed a cavalier disregard for reality by denying he was having Ramos removed, even as he had him removed. But the episode was mesmerizing, and Trump — in his madcap way — was commanding in how he handled it.

If any other candidate had done that or something similar, it would have been a signature event of his campaign, but for Trump it was just another day on the trail, to be eclipsed by some other memorable event tomorrow.

Trump has at least half a dozen such indelible moments — his bizarre announcement, the John McCain diss, the Lindsey Graham cellphone, the Megyn Kelly fight (x2), the Mobile rally — when the rest of the field has almost none. No speech, no policy proposal, no argument, nothing from the other candidates has come close to capturing the imagination of voters, giving Trump the space to loom all the larger.

The weakness starts at the top, or what was supposed to be the top. In the normal course of things, the establishment front-runner provides coherence to the field. Hence, the expectation that the field would have Jeb Bush and a not-Bush, or maybe two. For the moment, this assumption has collapsed, as the current shape of the field is Trump and everyone else.

This is quite the comedown for Bush. His “shock and awe” has turned into getting sand kicked on him at the beach by a loudmouth and bully. It’s not just that Bush is trailing Trump badly in the polls; he has acceded to the terms of the debate being set by the mogul. It wasn’t long ago that Bush swore off talking about Trump, as basically beneath him. Now, he is sniping with him daily.

Before he got in the race, Bush spoke of only wanting to do it if he could run joyfully. Little did he know that he would be joyously grappling with an ill-informed blowhard who takes it as his daily obligation to insult Bush and trample on the pieties he holds dear.

In the argument with Trump over mass deportation, clearly Bush is right. But the split screen with Trump doesn’t necessarily do him any favors. Trump is such a forceful communicator that he comes off as some sort of throwback alpha male, whereas Bush is such an earnest wonk he looks and sounds like a sensitive dad from a contemporary sitcom. It’s like watching a WWE wrestler get a stern talking to from Ned Flanders.

Bush is not a natural performer to begin with (he struggles with set speeches), and he believes his contribution to the race is to be the nonthreatening Republican, which is often indistinguishable from the uninteresting Republican. So while Bush has methodically built the superstructure of an impressive campaign — with fundraising, organization and policy proposals — he has so far barely warmed up an ember among voters.

Scott Walker, in contrast, had a surge early in the campaign. It dissipated over time when his limited preparation on national issues didn’t match his outsized early press exposure. A so-so debate performance and the rise of Trump have continued his long fade to middle of the pack in the latest early state polling (tied for fourth in New Hampshire and tied for seventh in South Carolina).

Walker’s ability to appeal to both the establishment and activist wings of the party had looked like a strength, but now it seems a precarious balancing act, made all the more difficult by a panicky reaction to Trump.

No sooner had Walker pronounced himself “aggressively normal” in the debate than he seemed to opt for just “aggressive” in an attempt to play to the passions tapped by Trump. Who could have predicted that the Midwestern candidate who tells stories about buying shirts for $1 at Kohl’s would have to play populist catch-up with the New York billionaire who travels by eponymous helicopter?

Walker had already changed his mind about immigration, shifting from support for a “comprehensive” approach to strong opposition to amnesty. Trump has pushed him further, and Walker has gotten tangled up on the issue of birthright citizenship.

At the Iowa State Fair, he seemed at one point to say that he was opposed to it. Then, he told John Harwood of CNBC he wouldn’t take a position on it. Finally, on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” he danced around a question on the 14th Amendment before saying that anything that goes beyond simply enforcing our immigration laws is a red herring.

Earlier this week, Walker blasted President Barack Obama for hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping for a state visit, even though as governor he had been friendly to China and obligingly wore a Chinese-American flag pin in an appearance on Chinese state TV.
It’s one thing to play to the mood of voters; it’s another to give the appearance of not quite knowing who you are, which is much more deadly than an August dip in the polls.

As for Marco Rubio, for whom expectations have been so high, he has been the least reactive to Trump. His campaign is still betting on the long game. It believes his natural talent will tell over time, but he doesn’t have a natural geographic or ideological base, and his 21st-century economic agenda — although thoughtful — is not likely to stoke enthusiasm among primary voters.

Ted Cruz may be benefiting most from the Trump surge in his strategic positioning. He has a cogent theory of the case, which is that if he is nice to Trump — and the other outsider candidates — he eventually can inherent his supporters. This makes intuitive sense, although Cruz — exceedingly careful in crafting his words and in calculating his interest — is hardly a natural anti-politician.

It is still August, of course. The rules of gravity say Trump will come back down to earth. The media interest that is so intense now could burn out. His lack of seriousness should be a drag over time, and he will still have to weather more debates and presumably — should he stay strong — a barrage of negative ads.

Even if he fades, though, someone else will have to fill the screen. To this point, No one else has been big or vivid enough to do it.

So Marco Rubio still refuses to answer the question of whether or not he has smoked marijuana.

“Here’s the problem with that question in American politics,” Rubio said. “If you say you did, suddenly there are all these people saying ‘Well, it’s not a big deal, look at all these successful people who did it.’ On the other side of it, if you tell people that you didn’t, they won’t believe you.”

And if you refuse to answer entirely, then people will think you’re nothing but a craven politician with something to hide.

Marco, Marco, Marco… If you hadn’t smoked weed, you would say so. We all know you smoked, and your lame excuses for refusing to answer the question just make you look, well, lame.

P.S. I was going to tag this with slang terms for marijuana, but there are way too many for that!

So while conservatives compete with each other to see who can be Dumb & Dumber when it comes to climate change, the rest of us have to deal with reality.

Clear skies above but water below, a woman on a moped navigates a flooded street corner on Miami Beach, an all-too-familiar sign for residents of this iconic peninsula where the ocean seems more likely than ever to swamp Ocean Drive one day.

If there’s an image that starkly illustrates the threats of climate change, it’s this photograph, which was included in the recent National Climate Assessment released by the White House. It is noteworthy because the flood is from exceptionally high spring tides – not heavy rains. Tidal flooding like that is relatively new. And scary. “People in Miami Beach are living climate change,” said David Nolan, a meteorology and physical oceanography professor at the University of Miami. “They’re on the frontline.”

The people of Miami Beach didn’t need the National Climate Assessment to tell them low-lying south Florida is “exceptionally vulnerable to sea level rise”. The city is already spending $206m to overhaul its drainage system.

The day after the White House released its climate change report, Miami-Dade County’s commission passed a 6 May resolution that calls on planners to account for sea level rise. Local officials across the four counties of south Florida are making similar moves. Almost anyone who lives in south Florida has a nagging fear about climate change. It’s both abstract and, at times, very real.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Chait writes about President Obama’s dilemma when it comes to the new Environmental Protection Agency rules he will announce in a few weeks regulating carbon emissions.

The best way to think of the dilemma is keeping in mind the three things Obama wants his regulations to accomplish: He wants them to effectively reduce carbon pollution, he wants them not to cost consumers too much, and he wants to be sure they can survive legal challenge. The trouble is that he can only pick two of these. And the primary question weighing on administration regulators as they make their decision will be how to read the mind of Anthony Kennedy.

No matter what he decides, conservatives will scream and shout in protest, in part because their overarching strategy is to oppose any Obama initiative and deny him any accomplishments. It’s a helluva way to run a government.