The right temperament for the job

Republican presidential candidate (and modern-day hybrid of Walt Whitman and Martin Luther King) Marco Rubio, was last seen desperately working to dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing (SPOILER: he knows exactly what he’s doing).

My word, he’s still at it! Keep dispelling with that notion, Senator!

Today, Rubio was the subject of a piece by Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins. Actually it’s an excerpt from Coppins’s book, The Wilderness, but Buzzfeed published it today…you get my meaning. Anyway, the section that’s garnered the most attention is this one:

To rivals, Rubio’s reflexive retreat to the same snippet of well-rehearsed rhetoric — over and over, and over, and over again — was proof of the freshman senator’s status as a lightweight. To supporters, the wobbly display was a forgivable fluke, one bad moment blown wildly out of proportion by a bloodthirsty press corps.

But to those who have known him longest, Rubio’s flustered performance Saturday night fit perfectly with an all-too-familiar strain of his personality, one that his handlers and image-makers have labored for years to keep out of public view. Though generally seen as cool-headed and quick on his feet, Rubio is known to friends, allies, and advisers for a kind of incurable anxiousness — and an occasional propensity to panic in moments of crisis, both real and imagined.

I have to agree with Josh Marshall here: “an occasional propensity to panic in moments of crisis” seems like a pretty terrible quality in a presidential candidate. I mean, I’ve never been president, never known any presidents, never been near a president. I’ve never even taken a White House tour. But it seems, to my obviously layman’s eye, that being presidency means dealing with a pretty much never-ending stream of crises. And most of them are far more consequential than “Charlie Crist’s surrogate said something mean about me.” How’s President Rubio (yikes) going to handle an actual crisis if he’s still “training himself to take setbacks in stride,” which is an actual quote from the piece? Frankly, now I’m a little panicked at the prospect of finding out.

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