While the internet opines endlessly on whether Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is or is not, in fact, an ill-programmed robot, those who know Marco Rubio best have a more sensible explanation for his disastrous debate performance last Saturday (and his subsequent gaffes since.) It is not that he is dimwitted or inexperienced or slow on his feet. It's just that he tends to panic when the unexpected happens.
Though generally seen as cool-headed and quick on his feet, Rubio is known to friends, allies, and advisers for a kind of incurable anxiousness — and an occasional propensity to panic in moments of crisis, both real and imagined.
Among all the possible characteristics for a future president, a propensity to panic in moments of crisis is likely among the worst. President Rubio, North Korea has tested another bomb. What should we do? President Rubio, Vlad Putin called you a name. How would you like to—NO MARCO DO NOT PRESS THAT BUTTON, YOU'LL KILL US ALL.
All right, so the top contenders are, in no particular order, Donald Trump, who considers every problem solvable by merely overriding whatever parts of government disagree with him; Ted Cruz, whose every political interaction ends with everyone else hating him; and Marco Rubio, the serious Republican wonk who cannot handle high-pressure situations without freezing up or doing something rash. Goodie.
From the moment the 2010 primary turned negative, the candidate needed a fainting couch every time an attack was lobbed his way, his aides recalled to me. [...]
“He just lets these little things get to him, and he worries too much,” a Miami Republican complained after spending close to an hour sitting next to Rubio on a flight as he fretted over a mildly critical process story about him in the National Journal. “I’m just like, ‘Marco, calm down.’”
Well that's just great. The all-but-official Republican "establishment" pick for taking down Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is the fellow who was reduced into a puddle of talking points the first time one of his fellow contenders challenged him, but don't worry about it, his closest allies say. He'll do fine in the White House, once all the pressure is off and everyone stops criticizing him.