I thought this election was about nationalism and populism. How’d we get from that to whether it’s appropriate to employ Skinemax actresses and listen to NWA in the span of a day?

And how is it, with Republicans suddenly throwing roundhouses at each other over “values” in South Carolina, that Donald Trump, of all people, is the main beneficiary?

Two tweets from Tim Miller, head of Jeb’s communications team:

The first tweet duplicates McClatchy’s headline for its story about Rubio’s musical tastes. As in the actress post, I need some help from socially conservative readers in gauging whether this is a problem. There’s no question that Rubio listens to some hip-hop, like NWA, that’s explicit. There is, however, a very big question whether he does it around “family,” by which McClatchy obviously means his young kids. My pal Karl flagged this CNN story from last week suggesting that he doesn’t:

Marco Rubio is a West Coast hip-hop kind of guy. But he can’t listen to that stuff with his kids around.

So on the campaign trail, he’s swapped out rappers like Tupac and NWA for Calvin Harris and Avicii…

“I just like it because the lyrics are clean, so I can listen to it in front of my kids and not worry about it,” he said. “I used to be a much bigger hip-hop fan. But the lyrics have gotten harder and harder to listen to when you have 10-year-olds in the car.”

Rubio’s a phony if he claimed that people shouldn’t listen to music with explicit lyrics, period, or that that kind of music ideally shouldn’t be produced. Here’s what he actually said that’s got McClatchy and Team Jeb crying “phony”:

“It’s become harder than ever to instill in your children the values they teach in our homes and in our church instead of the values that they try to ram down our throats in movies, in music, in popular culture,” Rubio said in Nashua, N.H. in his last stump speech on primary day. The passage was made famous because Rubio actually repeated the statement twice, playing into earlier criticism about robotic adherence to talking points.

I don’t know where McClatchy gets from that that he “hates hip-hop, except when he loves it.” He loves it, he just doesn’t think it should be “rammed down our throats,” by which I assume he means “broadcast so ubiquitously that kids can’t avoid being exposed to it.” That’s a perennial complaint from parents about mass media, especially in the Internet era. It’s not that adult entertainment is bad per se, it’s that it’s too easy for children to access. Unless you think Rubio can’t instill good values in his kids if he occasionally listens to NWA when they’re not around, I don’t understand how what he said conflicts with family values. And if it does, would it also conflict with family values if he admitted to being a fan of, say, “Breaking Bad”? That’s a show about cooking meth, selling it, and murdering people who get in your way. The lead character, whom you’re supposed to sympathize with, is the local meth kingpin. Not a show you’d want to watch with young kids, but it’s a show you’d want to watch. (Take it from me.) Is he a phony for endorsing “family values” and enjoying “Breaking Bad”? Has Jeb Bush ever seen that show? Or “The Sopranos”? Or “Game of Thrones”?

Since we’re on the subject of Jeb, Right to Rise chief Mike Murphy is touting these numbers:

https://twitter.com/murphymike/status/698204644149886976

I’d bet cash money that’s not an accurate reflection of the race, but if it is then Marco will soon have a lot of extra free time to listen to all the music he wants.

Update: Tim Miller e-mails with a reply to my post:

Your post completely missed the mark on what I was pointing out regarding Marco.

Anyone who knows me or follows my Twitter feed would know that I have absolutely no issue with someone promoting rap music or violent movies. My avatar is Jeb with a rapper.

And I don’t know anyone who would dispute that what is appropriate for kids is different from what is appropriate for adults.

My point was this: for years Marco has been doing interviews with outlets that target younger voters where he highlights his knowledge of rap, his favorite movies (Pulp Fiction) and other cultural touchstones. Then all of a sudden, 2 weeks before the Iowa caucus, he begins adding into his stump speech a lament about the values that movies and music are shoving down our throats.

Now maybe this is just a coincidence, but given the timing, I think its more likely that it is a phony ploy to cultural conservatives that have that view.

And if Marco has had a genuine change of heart on this, then I think he would not want to promote those artists that are “ramming their values down our throats” in other venues. But he did once again in the Showtime behind the scenes documentary just last week.

Is this the biggest issue on this campaign? Absolutely not.

But is it an obviously phony pander worthy of a cheeky tweet? I think so.