It's been said that some Republican candidates run their campaigns based on the politics of fear. They constantly remind their base of any potentially scary issue in the world as if they were Boy Scout troop leaders telling ghost stories around a campfire, and then present themselves as the only people fit to save them from all the frightening phenomena out there. Often the message seems to be, "Vote for me or ISIS will kill you."
This isn't actually anything surprising or novel in politics. Democrats engage in their own form of it from time to time, too.
Yet, it takes a very special candidate to somehow turn a question about his choice of footwear into a rant about how ISIS is going to kill us and China is going to do, well, something to us.
That candidate is Miami's own Marco Rubio.
In case you missed it, over the weekend he was snapped in New Hampshire wearing a pair of heeled boots. Fittingly enough, they're called "Cuban heels," and they are about an inch to an inch-and-half higher than what's considered standard for boring politician fashion in America.
New York Times political reporter Michael Barbaro tweeted about the "fashionable" footwear, and the thing somehow steamrolled into a mini-meme.
Marco Rubio is rocking some seriously fashionable black boots today in New Hampshire. pic.twitter.com/lwiSWuuCUt— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) January 4, 2016
For people unfamiliar with the internet, these things happen. Something a little silly occurs and the internet latches on for LOLs, retweets, and page views.
In a primary where each
Vanity Fair tried to locate Rubio's boots for sale. Elle, a fashion magazine, wondered who wore them better: Rubio or One Direction member Harry Styles. The Cut had a few laughs. The little sideshow stayed mostly in the lifestyle and fashion portions of the internet, where it belonged.
Notably, meme-factory Buzzfeed didn't even feel Rubio's booties were worth a listicle. It appears even snarky political blog Wonkette stayed out of the fray.
Then something strange happened.
The Ted Cruz campaign decided to elevate the mini-hysteria about Rubie's footwear from the online fashion press into the realm of actual politics.
Members of Cruz's press team started taunting Rubio about the boots on Twitter. Cruz's rapid response director, Brian Phillip. sent out a snarky tweet that read, "Rubio supports Italian boots on the ground." Rick Tyler, Cruz's communication director, also tweeted out a link to that the Cut article. Fellow candidates Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina also razed Rubio about the boots on Twitter.
The buzz grew so much that Rubio was finally asked about the shoes today by an audience member at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire.
Rather than laugh it off as the dumb joke it is, Rubio somehow turned it into a rant against ISIS. We repeat: He turned a dumb internet meme into a rant about ISIS.
"Senator, I'm one of the undecided in the room," said the man from the audience. "It didn't really make a difference to me, but I'm glad you made a better shoe choice today."
"Here's what's great about it," says Rubio.
What? What's great about your boots?
"It just tells you where we are as a country?"
Hmm, wait, you really think your boots are indicative of the state of our great union? That's kind of a weird take, but I'm listening.
"Let me get this right, ISIS is cutting people's heads off, setting people on fire in cages..."
Wait, dude, we were talking about your shoes here....
"Saudi Arabia and Iran are on the verge or war. The Chinese are landing airplanes on islands that they built and say belong to them that are in international waters, and in some way is
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None of that seems great at all! You lied to us about there being a great thing about your boots!
Meanwhile, Google returns 274,000 results for the search term "Hillary Clinton pantsuit."