It is hard to tell exactly what is going on inside the brain of Marco Rubio that has caused him once again to loop repetitively through his prepared text like a malfunctioning robot. Maybe it’s evidence of an overly programmed candidate who barely considers the words that escape his lips. Or maybe he’s just stressed out and tired. There’s a plausible case to be made that nobody should care at all about Rubio’s weird public glitches. But an odd theory circulating among some Rubio fans is that his glitch last night — the second one in the span of three days — was not a glitch at all. He did it on purpose!
Okay, I looked it up. Anaphora is the “deliberate repetition of the first part of the sentence in order to achieve an artistic effect.” For instance, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Or, “We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air …”
Repetition of the first part of a sentence is a poetic device. Here is what Rubio said:
We are taking our message to families that are struggling to raise their children in the 21st century because, as you saw, Jeanette and I are raising our four children in the 21st century, and we know how hard it’s become to instill our values in our kids instead of the values they try to ram down our throats.
In the 21st century, it’s becoming 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 the movies, in music, in popular culture.
That is not anaphora, because it is not the repetition of the first part of the sentence. This important difference explains why Dickens did not write, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” and why Churchill did not say, “We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, and we shall fight in … France.”
Nor is it part of some poetic device that makes sense if you watch the context of the speech, which I did, and which is just Rubio cycling through his standard stump lines rather than repeating them for some kind of literary effect.
And this is why Rubio visibly hesitates when he is about to say “throats” for the second time. It is the horrified panic of a candidate who realizes he has just done the one thing he desperately needs at this moment not to do.