When your cable company keeps you on hold, you get angry. When you get angry, you start getting irrational. When you get irrationally angrier, you start foaming at the mouth like Newt Gingrich. When you start foaming at the mouth like Newt Gingrich, you turn into Sen. Marco Rubio uttering illiterate phooey in South Carolina in a craven attempt to goose your vice presidential aspirations.
If anyone needs a cold shower and an American history tutorial, it would certainly be Rubio, who traveled to South Carolina a few days ago to get his freshman beanie in a wad over the presidential campaign.
Roy Scheider didn't throw out as much red meat chum in Jaws as Rubio did before a gathering of Republicans. The junior senator's remarks may have fired up the Republican base, even though he was more historically inaccurate than South Carolinians who claim the Civil War was a kerfuffle over tariffs. Slavery? What slavery? Who said anything about slavery?
Rubio was in high dudgeon over President Barack Obama. That went over well with this crowd, which already regards the president of the United States as a Trotskyite agent of Satan who was born in deepest Africa to Angela Davis and Nikita Khrushchev.
We've got trouble right here in River City, Rubio moaned. Trouble, trouble, trouble. For as long as Obama resides in the White House, the senator decried, "We have not seen such a divisive figure in modern American history as we have over the last 3 1/2 years."
It's a bit disheartening to see a senator know so little about the history of the country he was elected to serve.
Of course, Rubio is largely a product of the Florida public education system, where teaching history is at best an afterthought. And who was going to notice that the senator was demonstrating all the civics literacy of Rick Perry meets Sarah Palin?
Barack Obama, the most divisive figure in modern American history? Really? While there is no argument all presidents court controversy, Obama hardly qualifies as the most discordant individual in the nation's history. That would be Lindsay Lohan agreeing to appear on Glee. Just kidding, sort of.
Memo to Rubio: There are these things called books. They used to be all the rage. If the senator had ever bothered to thumb through a few history tomes, he might have discovered that Obama is a summer of love compared to some other figures who have traipsed through the nation's life.
Richard Nixon was an immensely divisive figure whose moral failings during the Watergate scandal and eventual resignation from office took the country on an emotional group therapy session.
Lyndon Johnson. Surely Rubio might have heard the name. It was Johnson who mired the nation in Vietnam, leading to nearly 60,000 U.S. casualties.
After his election by the U.S. Supreme Court, during the Cheney administration, George W. Bush managed to plunge the country into a needless war in Iraq, lose 8 million jobs, implode the real estate markets and turn the Constitution into a bubble gum wrapper. Divisive? Nah.
Many other Americans have proven to be pretty darn divisive: the red-baiting Joe McCarthy; George Wallace; South Carolina's own racist-in-residence, Strom Thurmond, the playboy of the West Wing, Bill Clinton; and of course the hucksters of the radio dial, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.
The vice presidential pick is supposed to be something of an attack dog. But is Mitt Romney seriously thinking about a running mate who can only chase his tail and still thinks he's in the hunt?
Rubio was only getting warmed up, hinting that those who have attended Harvard and Yale are out of touch with the real world. That was a not-too-subtle swipe at Obama, who went to Harvard's law school.
Uh, Sen. Rubio? Mitt Romney, the chap you are fawning over like a Lady Gaga groupie? He went to Harvard. Probably not the brightest move to impugn the nominee's school.
Rubio has inherited Gingrich's rhetorical mantle of grand, absolutist, twaddle-filled statements. When it comes to notoriously divisive figures in American history, he opted to study at the foot of a grandmaster.