Rubio is Right: Obama Knows What He’s Doing

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It got buried underneath Chris Christie’s jabs about memorized talking points, but there was an interesting sub-debate about Barack Obama at Saturday’s Republican debate. Namely: What is it that has made Obama such a terrible president? Is he foolish and incompetent, as many of the GOP candidates argued? Or is he a liberal mastermind doing everything he can to make America unrecognizable?

Near the beginning of the night, Sen. Marco Rubio said, “Let’s dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country, to make America more like the rest of the world.”

After some back and forth with Christie, Rubio repeated his contention. “I think this is an important point,” he said. “We have to understand what we’re going through here. We are not facing a president that doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows what he is doing. That’s why he’s done the things he’s done.”

Later in the night, Donald Trump joined in on the fun. “Marco said earlier on that President Obama knows exactly what he’s doing, like we have this president that really knows. I disagree, respectfully, with Marco,” said Trump. “I think we have a president who, as a president, is totally incompetent, and he doesn’t know what he’s doing. I think he has no idea what he’s doing. And our country is going to hell. So, I just want to say, we disagree on that.”

Allowing for the obvious missteps – mostly involving the Middle East – Rubio is closer to the truth here than those who insist Obama is an idiot. Obama’s fundamental worldview may be that of an idiot, but most of what he’s done over the past seven years has been the result of calculation and deceit, not blind blundering.

That kind of rhetorical distinction may not mean much when it comes to choosing a Republican nominee, but it’s a crucial point for undecided voters in November. Our country is not in trouble because Obama was too inexperienced for the job; if anything, we should be thankful that he is not politically skilled enough to see his dark vision through to completion. At this point, he has vastly more presidential experience than anyone on the stage. Yet does anyone think he’s a better president today than he was in 2009? If anything, he’s worse. His experience has made him arrogant. Give his agenda to someone who’s better at getting things done and the situation gets even worse. The last thing our country needs is a more competent version of Barack Obama.

On a debate stage, dismissing the president as an imbecile plays well, and of course there is a long tradition of calling our president’s intelligence into question. But when we get past the easy applause lines, the truth is clear. Obama may not be anyone’s idea of a genius, but the steps he’s taken to weaken America have not been the result of stupidity.

The voters who (twice!) elected him on the other hand…