How hard is it to name a Marco Rubio accomplishment? For some, it seems to be a difficult endeavor. Maybe it's because the Florida senator's accomplishments are not memorable, or that he has very few that Republicans want to brag about during the presidential primary. (Cough! Gang of Eight, cough!) Just days ago, newly minted Rubio-endorser Rick Santorum, given the opportunity to name one of Rubio's deeds, whiffed badly on "Morning Joe."
But as Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) demonstrates, a good lifehack for anyone who finds themselves having to enumerate Rubio's accomplishments is just to blither on and on for a few minutes before finally crediting Rubio with an accomplishment that he never actually accomplished.
Inhofe's been in the Senate since 1994. He knows the terrain. He has a front-row seat to the action. He's thrown a snowball or two in his day, too. But the salient point is that there's no better chronicler of a senator's accomplishments than a veteran legislator who's seen them up close and firsthand. And so The Hill reporter Molly Hooper went to Inhofe, to get the real story. Let's see how that went!
INHOFE: There's no harder job than being Speaker of the House, either federally or state-by-state, and he accomplished great things, and for him to, I mean, you know, you know, you can start in on his accomplishments going way back to when he was running the state, or the House, in uhm, in uhm, Florida. So, uhh...
HOOPER: But what accomplishments? Because that's the thing that people don't know: the specifics. What did he do? What has he done? And I don't mean to be...
INHOFE: Well, he has, he has, brought issues out in the public so that the public is aware of the problems that exist. He has been very clear that, uhh, that we have a problem in our military, we have a president who's disarmed America, and we have a problem right now, he is busy bringing that, focusing that, uhh, the American people, and but there are limits to what you can do as one senator.
Oh, yeah, this is going great so far. I can see this in a Rubio ad now: "He is busy bringing that, focusing that, uhhhh," as patriotic music swells in the background.
At this point in the video Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) shows up and successfully names what could be plausibly called a "Rubio accomplishment." "If you look at his efforts on human rights, if you look at what he did with Hezbollah, the Wall Street Journal credits the sanctions he put in place for actually making a difference in the way Hezbollah is carrying out attacks."
Well done, Gardner. Now, let's cut back to Inhofe, because he's building to a mighty crescendo:
INHOFE: Now, specific, what has he done? He voted for, as I did, the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act, and he did it because, and there were several other senators who didn't, two other senators who didn't do it.
Oh, he voted for the NDAA you say? Normally, if someone tried to pass this vote off as significant, I'd be arguing that it's pretty weak tea. After all, some seventy-odd senators voted to pass the NDAA and being a mere member of that herd is not the sort of achievement on which you'd hang your hat. But we can leave that aside for a moment because, guess what? Rubio didn't actually vote for the NDAA. In fact, the NDAA vote has been specifically cited by Rubio's critics during the primary as an example of his chronic truancy. As CNN reported at the time:
Rubio was not present for the Senate's vote on the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which passed 73 to 26. The vote was expected to be close.
Rubio has said that he will "do everything possible" to be present for any vote "where my vote is going to make a difference or an issue of major national significance or importance."
Hmm... really?? So that's why Rubio is down as "not voting" for the three votes on the NDAA cast by the Senate in early October 2015 that sent the bill to the president's desk, according to the Congressional record.
But you know, if Rubio had been there he probably would have cast his vote so hard, man, you'd have had to have been there to believe it, just like Rubio wasn't at the time.
Jason Linkins edits "Eat The Press" for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost politics podcast, "So, That Happened." Subscribe here. Listen to the latest episode below.