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Home/Daniel Larison/What Rubio Doesn’t Know

What Rubio Doesn’t Know

Robert Merry takes Rubio to task for the confused talking points he used last week at CPAC:

And now we have the spectacle of Rubio demonstrating that in tossing off his speculations on what’s driving President Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East, he doesn’t know what he is talking about. He has shown himself to be intellectually callow.

Merry is referring here specifically to the odd argument Rubio used to try to criticize the administration’s handling of the war on ISIS and its negotiations with Iran at the same time, but there are other examples that support what he’s saying. Rubio’s errors aren’t limited to one bungled red-meat attack line delivered to a conference audience. He makes these errors fairly often in many different venues, but there is almost no one on the right interested in drawing attention to them. Rubio is credited with “expertise” on foreign policy issues in large part because he is willing to claim that he has it, and because he can recite hard-line talking points with conviction that is usually more than enough. Whether he is making self-serving claims to avoid responsibility for the consequences of the Libyan intervention that he strongly supported or desperately defending a bankrupt Cuba policy, Rubio’s hawkish instincts keep landing him on the wrong side of important issues. However, because he doesn’t break from the party on foreign policy, his “expertise” is automatically accepted by others in his party despite a record of bad policy judgments. His fellow hawks can’t fault Rubio for his errors without acknowledging their own.

It also helps that he can make false claims before audiences that don’t know any better and get away with it. His repeatedinsistence on the supposed importance of Shia apocalypticism in understanding Iranian regime behavior is one example of this. To someone who knows little or nothing about Shi’ism or Iran, Rubio’s confident declarations about the regime’s motivations may sound authoritative and compelling, but he is, in fact, spouting nonsense. It doesn’t take much scrutiny to find that Rubio “doesn’t know what he is talking about,” as Merry says, but in order for that discovery to take place someone has to bother to check the senator’s claims.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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