Last night’s CNN national security debate was a testosterone-fueled neo-con slugfest in which most of the candidates vied with one another over how quickly after their election they would launch another Mideast invasion – while doing their best to avoid saying how many troops and how much American money would be committed to a third American war in the Middle East.
Governor John Kasich of Ohio even attempted to pump some air into his lagging campaign by saying “it’s time that we punched the Russians in the nose,” seeming to forget that of all the competing interests in the world the Russians are the only ones with near-parity to us in nuclear weapons.
Despite the often warlike tone of the debate, which was frequently encouraged by the media questions, Senator Marco Rubio, who has positioned himself as the leading hawk in the field came off the worse for his encounters with Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and frontrunner Donald Trump.
In the post-debate analysis CNN’s Van Jones (who is also a former Obama administration official) observed that “this is the first time I saw Marco Rubio rattled” and that Rubio “lost his cool.”
Jones further noted that he was surprised that there wasn’t as much “firepower directed at Trump” following all the “shocking things” he said about Muslims and that the debate revealed “a competition between these two young rising stars” in Cruz and Rubio.
In the end, Jones gave his outlook on the race* if those two are the ones left standing:
“Listen, I thought that Rubio for the first time on a debate stage, lost. I thought, for the first time on a debate stage, he looked rattled. He was getting hit by Cruz and he was getting hit on the other side by Rand Paul and he lost his cool, so I think if there is a competition between these two young rising stars, not only is Cruz beating him in Iowa and beating him in the ground game, he beat him on the stage tonight. That’s bad for Rubio.”
Senator Rubio’s attempts to use his membership on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence as the basis of his argument in favor of the surveillance state also fell flat when Senator Rand Paul confronted him.
Using one of the oldest tricks in Washington when debating national security matters Rubio said in defense of his advocacy of the surveillance of millions of innocent Americans, “Let me be very careful when answering this, because I don’t think national television in front of 15 million people is the place to discuss classified information. So let me just be very clear. There is nothing that we are allowed to do under this bill [The USA Freedom Act ]that we could not do before.”
Of course there’s nothing classified about the text of The USA Freedom Act, so Rubio was merely being clever and reminding the audience he’s on the Senate Intel Committee.
Senator Paul for his part was having none of it and quickly shot down the notion that Americans are less safe because the government actually follows the Constitution:
“You know, I think Marco gets it completely wrong. We are not any safer through the bulk collection of all Americans’ records. In fact, I think we’re less safe. We get so distracted by all of the information, we’re not spending enough time getting specific immigration — specific information on terrorists.”
Senator Paul went on to note that Rubio was the leading voice on the Obama – Rubio open borders bill, the so-called “Gang of Eight” amnesty for illegal aliens legislation:
“The other thing is, is the one thing that might have stopped San Bernardino, that might have stopped 9/11 would have been stricter controls on those who came here. And Marco has opposed at every point increased security — border security for those who come to our country.
On his Gang of Eight bill, he would have liberalized immigration, but he did not — and he steadfastly opposed any new border security requirements for refugees or students.
Last week, I introduced another bill saying we need more security, we need more scrutiny. Once again, Marco opposed this. So Marco can’t have it both ways. He thinks he wants to be this, “Oh, I’m great and strong on national defense.” But he’s the weakest of all the candidates on immigration. He is the one for an open border that is leaving us defenseless. If we want to defend the country, we have to defend against who’s coming in, and Marco is — has more of an allegiance to Chuck Schumer and to the liberals than he does to conservative policy.”
Senator Paul followed up with this key indictment of Rubio’s record on national security:
“The thing is, is that every terrorist attack we’ve had since 9/11 has been legal immigration. Marco wants to expand that. I want more rules, more scrutiny, and to defend the country, you have to defend the border.”
Senator Paul’s precise and truthful attack on Rubio’s record on open borders left Rubio reeling and he never really, as CNN’s Van Jones put it, recovered his “cool”…