According to the latest polls, Marco Rubio is leading all the other Republican contenders in the 2016 race to be President. No doubt this is causing some excitement in the Rubio camp and among his most ardent supporters. To be honest, he is a telegenic, Kennedyesque young candidate. He is obviously intelligent and articulate. And he has a compelling and personal immigrant story, a capsulate of the American dream. The question, however, is he a statesman in the tradition of FDR and Churchill? If America wants truly to remain the leader of the “free world” then it needs (not just a popular politician) but a convincing statesman that the rest of the world can look up to, someone able to step up on the world stage, command attention and forge the path forward. Does Marco Rubio meet this critical test? I’ll let you decide.
Good or bad, the world has seen a parade of real, transformational world leaders. Franklin Roosevelt, Khrushchev, Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy, Josef Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Golda Meir, Benazir Bhutto, Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher – the Iron Lady, and last but not least Winston Churchill, the blunt, cigar-chomping leader who inspired Brits through the Battle of Briton in the Nazi blitzkrieg. In spite of his popular image, FDR was a cold-eyed realist, Kennedy and Churchill students of realpolitic, Lincoln a moralistic leader with a vision for a new America. Marco is always talking up his foreign policy bona-fides, but does he — by any honest assessment — really fit into the above cast of characters.
He looks like the young guy who comes to door each morning to walk your dog, the eager barista who mixes your latte’ each morning at the local Starbucks, the ambitious young insurance agent who wants to write your auto insurance, or the perfectly coiffed T.V. anchor who reads you the news each night while you pick and poke and fall asleep over your Mac and Cheese dinner.
He looks good on T.V. —but is Marco Rubio ready to be the real world leader of the “free world”.
He looks good on T.V. —but is Marco Rubio ready to be the real world leader of the “free world”. Put a cigar in his mouth and can you really picture him, like Churchill, walking on the beach at Dover and leading the Battle for Briton, inspiring millions of Brits to hold out against the Nazi onslaught? Can you really picture him like Kennedy on that cold, blustery day in Washington, standing at the podium in front of the Capitol Dome, saying to a nation: “ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country”? Can you see him at Gettysburg delivering the Gettysburg Address?
Angela Merkel is the woman leading Germany—a tough, no bull-shit lady. Can you imagine Marco sitting down with Angela to discuss the Greek Crisis, the civil war in the Ukraine or the nuclear agreement with Iran? As a matronly lady, her first reaction would be either to burp him or change his diaper.
The world is a dangerous place, with wars and potential conflicts breaking out across the globe. It’s one thing as a national leader to beat the drum and take the country down the now familiar path to war. It’s quite another — and here’s where the statesman standard comes into play — to have the patience and balanced restraint, say like John Kennedy, to seek out and find the much less traveled path to peace. The question voters need to answer is — what kind of leader would Marco Rubio be? Is he all just youthful bluster and impetuousness? Or is there really some substance to the man? We need to remind ourselves that just waving the flag, pounding the drum of war, and calling out the troops is not really a nuanced foreign policy, and it’s not the true measure of a real national leader. As a person — and as a country — talking tough is one thing, but really living up to all the boasts and false bravado is a whole different matter.
The question then: is Marco Rubio ready for prime-time? I’m sorry, but as telegenic as Marco is, as compelling as his immigrant story is to all struggling minorities, he just doesn’t quite measure up as a statesman. John Kennedy had his hands full with a belligerent and bellicose Khrushchev. FDR faced an emboldened Stalin at Yalta, and John Kerry is equally challenged with Iran. How do you think Marco would do against Khrushchev today, Joseph Stalin, or for that matter the Iranians? Notwithstanding his up-side down politics, and his appeal to a lot of young Americans, Marco Rubio is nowhere near the stature and charisma of Churchill, JFK or FDR — a world leader.
Oh,and by the way — order me up a Frappachino!,
The Money Trader