Marco Rubio

by Jay Nordlinger

One of the best political speeches I have ever heard. Commanding, crisp, interesting, moving — both in its content and in its delivery. The speech was original-ish too. Not the same-old, same-old.

Rubio is a real speaker. Varsity team. Most of the other speakers at this convention, by comparison, seemed like boys. Certainly amateurs. (As they should be. Politicians in a republic should be amateurs.)

I had heard a lot of hype about Rubio; I had heard him give only one speech (and it was quite good). I can now be more forgiving of the hype. Holy-moly. Geez. Sumbitch can talk.

Barack Obama’s ideas “are tired and old big-government ideas. Ideas that people come to America to get away from. Ideas that threaten to make America more like the rest of the world, instead of helping the world become more like America.”

Perfect. Those few words manage to say a great deal.

“Under Barack Obama, the only ‘change’ is that ‘hope’ has been hard to find.” A little cutesy, but good. Effective.

“He tells Americans they’re worse off because others are better off. That people got rich by making others poor. Hope-and-change has become divide-and-conquer.”

Excellent. A neatly formulated indictment of class warfare.

“No matter how you feel about President Obama, this election is about your future, not his.”

Superb — effective on several levels. Gives you permission to vote against Obama. Alludes to his egomania, and the personalization of the race, not only by Obama, but by his core supporters, his cult. (“If you don’t vote to reelect the president, you’re a racist.”)

“We are special because we’ve been united not by a common race or ethnicity. We’re bound together by common values: that family is the most important institution in society; that Almighty God is the source of all we have.”

Blunt. Unblushing. Not very often heard these days.

And then,

A few years ago during a speech, I noticed a bartender behind a portable bar at the back of the ballroom. I remembered my father, who had worked for many years as a banquet bartender.

He was grateful for the work he had, but that’s not the life he wanted for us. He stood behind a bar in the back of the room all those years so one day I could stand behind a podium in the front of a room.

One of the things I especially like about the above passage? “He was grateful for the work he had, but . . .”

So, the speech — or this part of the speech — was all about Rubio. “Me, me, me. I’m so great. My story.” Right? Not really:

That journey, from behind that bar to behind this podium, goes to the essence of the American miracle: that we’re exceptional not because we have more rich people here; we’re special because dreams that are impossible anywhere else come true here.

That’s not just my story. That’s your story. That’s our story.

The speech, in its writing, in its conception, could scarcely have been better. But the delivery . . . Rubio evidently understands the music of language. Its rhythms, its dynamics, its structure, its various powers. This is not a common gift. May he use it — continue to use it! — for good.

My complaint, over many years, has been that our side doesn’t know how to talk. Our side is always getting out-talked. But we have a few who can really get it done. It’s great to have right ideas — most important to have right ideas — but you need a few who’ll give them wing. 

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