Another loser in all this is Rand Paul. His “tea party response” was very strong and, whether Paul intended it or not, was the perfect sort of event for the MSM to hawk one of its favorite story lines: Republicans in disarray! Civil war on the right! Tea party versus the establishment! And while much of that narrative would have been pretty idiotic, such idiocy rarely stops The New York Times or MSNBC from obsessing over it. I mean it’s not like Rubio is Susan Collins or anything. But, thanks to the obsession with Rubio’s addiction to dihydrogen monoxide, that story line got short shrift in the press.

The irony here is that the big winner is Rubio himself. No doubt, he probably wouldn’t have planned it this way, but I’m pretty certain he and his advisors are perfectly happy with how this turned out. For starters, the base liked the substance. Moreover, the base loves having a reason to mock the media for being absurdly unfair. Rubio’s star was rising awfully fast, and being hailed as the messiah on the cover of Time magazine is not what GOP primary voters necessarily want in a Republican standard-bearer.