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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Don’t listen to the ‘Marcobot,’ Obama is looking out for us

Marco Rubio’s debate comments have garnered him a lot of attention over recent weeks, though probably not the type of attention he wanted. In the Feb. 6 debate before the New Hampshire primary, Rubio was slammed by pundits, opponents and voters for repeating a scripted attack on President Obama four separate times.

The line, which was no more than various iterations of “Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He is trying to change this country,” was restated four times even after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called out Marco Rubio for repeating himself.

The fallout was swift and brutal. Rubio faced an onslaught of criticism and skepticism from the media with memes of “marcobot” quickly making their way around the Internet as the gaffe continued to be replayed. Instead of finishing second — or even first — in New Hampshire, as his campaign had optimistically hoped to do after a strong third place in Iowa, Rubio finished fifth, trailing behind John Kasich, Ted Cruz and even Jeb Bush. Instead of consolidating established support and entering the next primaries as the most likely contender to both Trump and Cruz, Rubio’s gaffe could potentially end his campaign.

The actual content of the line Rubio was hell-bent on repeating, however, has gotten far less attention from the media.

There are two layers to Rubio’s attack on the President and both have been common tropes of Rubio’s campaign for months. First, Rubio’s attack on Obama seeks to mitigate criticisms from Republicans that Marco is too young and inexperienced — a line that has been a favorite talking point for Republicans about Barack Obama for almost a decade. If Rubio can put the blame of Obama-era policy on intentional decision-making by the president, rather than on youth and inexperience, then Rubio can ideally blunt fears of Republican primary voters about electing another young, first-term senator to the White House.

The other intention behind Rubio’s line of attacks against Obama is far more sinister and repugnant. By saying that Obama has “deliberately weakened America,” Rubio is promoting the notion that Obama is intentionally making decisions and passing legislation not because he believes it’s the right thing to do or the best thing for the United States, but because he purposefully wants to inflict harm on the country.

It wasn’t too long ago that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani had this to say about President Obama: “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me.”

All of these attacks fall in line with years of Republican attacks calling into question Obama’s religious beliefs, sympathy for terrorists, birth certificate, loyalty to the United States and secret identity as a socialist or communist.

Even national embarrassment and a dip in the polls weren’t enough for Rubio to back off. Last week on Fox News he continued his attack line: “I’ll continue to say this: Barack Obama is undermining this country. He is hurting this country. He is doing serious damage to this country in a way that I believe is part of a plan to weaken America on the global stage.”

This rhetoric has real consequences. Almost one-third of all Americans, and 43 percent of Republicans believe Obama is a Muslim according to a CNN/ORC poll from last September. Perpetual and consistent comments about the Obama’s disloyalty to America and intentional strategy to weaken the United States only leads to more political polarization and demonization of our country’s leaders.

Elections and political discourse are essential for the United States. We need genuine debates about the role of government, foreign affairs strategies, and a host of other social, economic and international issues. But Rubio’s tactic of questioning the loyalty of the president of the United States is absurd. Disagree with Obama, but don’t peddle dangerous rhetoric that insinuates passing the Affordable Care Act, curbing carbon emissions, pushing for gun control, advocating for LGBTQ rights and brokering international agreements with Iran, are all parts of a secret plot to destroy America.

If we can’t agree that both sides are genuinely doing what they think is best for the citizens they represent, then compromise and political progress will never be a reality in this country. 

Follow Jacob Winkelman on Twitter

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