The reviews are in on Rubio and they are brutal

As could have been predicted, Twitter exploded with reactions to Marco Rubio’s bizarre performance during last night’s debate and he took a major beating. The reviews focused heavily on his penchant for robotic answers that went amuck last night. Here is one set of Tweets and here is another .

The ‘Rubio glitch’ is going viral with plays on his name such as Robio and Rubot and images such as this.


Here are some people who showed up at a Rubio rally this morning.


I, like many others, had noticed this feature before but the prize for spotting it earliest may well go to Jonathan Chait who wrote in 2011 an article titled Is Marco Rubio Secretly A Robot? about an op-ed written by Rubio, focusing on a passage that is similar to what got Rubio in trouble last night.

But the whole feel of the piece his a strange, slightly inhuman combination of stridency and rote intonation. Look at this succession of cliches at the end:

Whether they admit it or not, everyone in Washington knows how to solve these problems. What is missing is the political will to do it. I ran for the U.S. Senate because I want my children to inherit what I inherited: the greatest nation in human history. It’s not too late. The 21st century can also be the American Century. Our people are ready. Now it’s time for their leaders to join them.

Do you get the feeling that “Marco Rubio” is not an actual human being at all but some kind of computer program designed by the Republican Party? Imagine they had the technical know-how to create a candidate like this. What would they come up with? They’d come up with Marco Rubio, a cinematically handsome Latino from Florida who hews to the Tea Party line while spitting out patriotic cliches that sound as if they were programmed like a computer.

I’m not saying I’m sure Rubio is a robot. I’m just saying that I want to watch him walk through a metal detector.

As I said, I have no idea how this debate will translate into actual votes in New Hampshire. I have given up trying to predict such things in this ridiculous race.


  1. blf says

    I rather liked Jonathan Freedland’s write-up in The Grauniad, Marco Rubio turns into ‘Marcobot’ in disastrous Republican debate gaffe:

    The young Florida senator’s momentum was stopped in its tracks Saturday as Chris Christie unleashed taunts over his ‘memorized 25-second’ speech glitch

    […] Rubio had a disaster. His chief antagonist was New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who seized the earliest opportunity to put the young senator through the mincer. Building on a theme that he had tried out at a packed rally earlier that day, Christie taunted Rubio as a callow ingenue who could do no more than regurgitate a “memorized 25-second speech”.

    Rubio proceeded to make Christie’s point for him. Instead of answering the question put to him, he repeated the soundbite he had just uttered — a riff about Barack Obama having a deliberate plan to transform America. Christie pointed this out to the watching audience, Rubio doing exactly as he had described, retreating to the comfort zone of a well-rehearsed stump speech. Rubio promptly repeated the soundbite again.

    It was a damning, jaw-dropping moment. It looked like that sequence from the 1970s thriller the Stepford Wives, when a software glitch reveals that a human-like character is in fact a robot. “I thought we were friends,” the android says over and over again.

    Rubio never recovered. A small comfort, of a sort, came later when a close-up showed the Florida senator sweating under the lights and under pressure. At least it showed he was human. […]

  2. DonDueed says

    I liked this tweet:
    “Rubio is a conservative, but fortunately the Three Laws of Robotics will keep him from harming us all.”

  3. sonofrojblake says

    Rubio had clearly never seen the following interview with Ed Milliband, the UK politician who was wiped out at the general election last year:
    (context: the government was in negotiations with the teaching unions. Both sides had said a lot to the press. The teaching unions were going to go on strike, despite the fact negotiations were ongoing. As leader of the party of organised labour, Ed Milliband should perhaps have been expected to support the strike, but to do so would have been politically difficult. The interviewer asked him several questions about the subject. Here is his answer:)

  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    What about the content of Rubio’s repetitive meme? Are there “dog-whistles” in there? Sure, Obama is trying to change the country. So are all the Republican candidates. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I think you would have to go issue by issue, and ask whether the status quo is better than the target of change. Is this supposed to be a pared down version of the “Obama is a Communist Kenyan Muslim” meme?

  5. Nick Gotts says

    Hmm, I think my response to #4 got caught in a filter -- let’s try the expurgated version:

    Is this supposed to be a pared down version of the “Obama is a Communist Kenyan Muslim” meme? -- Reginald Selkirk@4

    Well that is just a dog whistle for “Obama is an uppity n*****”.

  6. StevoR says

    But Marco Rubio can’t be a robot with his drinking problem :

    All those glasses of water wouldn’t mix well with his electronics at all! Or does that explain the repetitive glitch?

    @2. DonDueed : Surely those Three Laws of robotics rule out him a robot at all -- a robot would be barred by those Asimovian laws from belonging to the Republican party completely!

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