Rubio, of course, could have slammed the door in Chris Christie’s face with an ad-libbed answer about the number of canned lines and repeated themes that Christie used (did you know that Chris Christie was a federal prosecutor?), but instead, he tried to “take the high road” and avoid attacking Christie. In other contexts, Rubio proved that he’s actually pretty good on his feet, but in the New Hampshire debate, he slavishly adhered to an overly-cautious strategy that utterly destroyed him.(Here, it is important not to blame Christie; his attacks should have been anticipated and should have been parried.)
A stronger performance at that debate might have meant a vastly different outcome.
Why should the Daddy Party settle for “the Bubble Boy” when they could have “Daddy” himself? All else was secondary, this time around.
If and when the Republicans or the Right or Conservatives, not always the same thing, develop or re-develop a credible praxis for national governance, then one or another individual will step forward who seems to possess sufficient rationality, or to offer a rational choice, along with the requisite phallic energy or aura.
The role of leading the Republican coalition during this conjunctural nadir for it on the national level fell to a towering and bellowing parody of machismo who promised ecstasies of overcompensation: Political-ideological Viagra. Republicanism or American Conservatism has been strong on every other level, and may retain its blocking position on the federal level, but it is specifically and significantly in relation to national politics and national leadership, the positive purposes, if any, of the American state, that its core premises fail or that, for now, its natural coalition fails to coalesce.
Modern Republicanism needs a greater enemy than ISIS or the Clintons to force its factions together and undermine their domestic adversaries. Rubio’s neoconservatism referenced bygone and imagined new eras of dominance, but Rubio’s campaign and against Trump and Christie Rubio himself expressed, embodied, and seemed even to undergo, or perhaps to re-enact, its emasculation.