Today’s faux outrage at Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) response to GQ’s “how old is the Earth” question suggests three things: first, that the 2016 presidential campaign is, indeed, underway. Second, that any conservative with national aspirations (or aspiring to enter the national conversation) should expect, at some inevitable point, that a narrative-framing gotcha question will emerge. Third, that efforts to deligitimize Marco Rubio’s national profile have entered their next phase.
The sound of Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) voice is The Brown Noise to many on the Left and in the mainstream media, sheer terror to those whose livelihoods depend on (a) continued Democratic governance and/or (b) continued wedges between Hispanics and conservative leaders/communicators/policymakers. Efforts to destroy Rubio’s national profile (and potential electability) have been underway for quite some time now, and I spotted a clear trend back in October of 2011- which I then called Operation Get Rubio.
Recall that the War on Women narrative of the past election was not initially launched post-Akin and Mourdock, or in the wake of Flukegate, but at the New Hampshire GOP primary debate. Mitt Romney basically Bryce Harpered the question, but the narrative was sprung at the next available opportunity, and it stuck. This is the same goal of the creation v. evolution question here. As Bryan Preston posits, there can be no other purpose other than to create a narrative touchstone from which to operate, probe, and undermine.
Here’s the whole question and answer:
GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?
Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.
The response was OK on substance, but left enough room for narrative framing.
Witness coverage from Talking Points Memo:
Marco Rubio declines to say how old Earth is: "I'm not a scientist, man" tpm.ly/TMrLFm—
Talking Points Memo (@TPM) November 19, 2012
Rubio on Earth's age: 'I'm not a scientist:' politi.co/QpWY6L—
POLITICO (@politico) November 19, 2012
Marco Rubio flirts with Creationism, says he’s unsure how old the Earth is thkpr.gs/SIVcc6—
ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) November 19, 2012
The post-question narratives suggest that efforts to toxify Marco Rubio have moved beyond the intra-racial and into the mainstream. I expect anyone with an eye on 2016 to get these types of questions, but am certain that Rubio will get the brunt of them. I expect major oppo incursions, and probes into all known associates past and present as part of a kitchen-sink approach that will make the Get Palin campaign pale in comparison. What I do NOT expect, however, is for totes dreamy Julián Castro to get a straight-up question on, for example, whether or not he supports the Born Alive Act.
Govern yourselves accordingly.