Someone who drank water from a glass — even a staid, cylindrical glass — would have to work hard to convince me that he had changed. But to drink — from a bottle? Why couldn’t Rubio be more like Mitt Romney, who occasionally paused to reinsert his lithium ion battery at a more natural angle, but never stooped to water?
This is like the incident that almost sank Winston Churchill — when, midway through telling the Britons that he had nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat, he leaned out of frame to help himself to a full glass of scotch.
Or that awkward moment during one of FDR’s fireside chats when Americans heard him making a distinctive sipping sound and he muttered something that sounded like “marshmallow?” followed by a few seconds of strained silence. He would have had a fifth term if not for that obvious gaffe!
Or the incident that really did end John Adams’s candidacy for a second term, when midway through a long explanation to Thomas Jefferson of why his ideas about yeoman farmers were ill-considered, Adams ran out to a well, drew up a bucket of water, boiled it and drank it, leaving his audience nonplussed.
As a human being on Twitter, I understand why what has already been dubbed “Watergate” is such a big deal.
Marco “Walks On Water” Rubio just lost the first two words of his moniker. Sen. Marco Rubio, like that guy in “Airplane!” has a drinking problem.
Look, I understand why this would have been a problem in the actual State of the Union. But slightly gawky as the moment was, I don’t think it — well, mattered, as much as Twitter seems to think. Immortal? I hope not.
And not because I am personally invested in Rubio’s success. Just because I’m a little embarrassed by how much we are paying attention to this. This is how it begins, the reduction of message to a series of mockable moments, the GIFication of our national discourse. I’m contributing to it, too. But maybe we’ll cross a Rubiocon here and notice who looks silly in this incident, That Epic Evening When Marco Rubio Drank Some WATER and the Internet Broke. (“Where were you the night it happened, Mommy?”) And I don’t think it’s Rubio — at any rate, he looks no sillier than the average SOTU responder.
As Ezra Klein said on Twitter, “Rubio did an okay job at SOTU response, which is about as good as you can do. Why don’t ambitious pols just say no?”
The best that will happen is that you will deliver a perfectly acceptable, if dry, speech, and the national news media will become Hilariously Distracted by some minor detail of your presentation. “Michele Bachmann, your Tea Party response was delivered in a direction that bore no relation to the location of the camera.” “Weird hair, Bobby.” (I don’t think anyone actually said that, but it’s of a piece with the sort of sentiment that gets expressed.)
The worst that will happen is that you will actually say something wrong.
Then again, Rubio’s already demonstrated a sense of humor about the whole teacup tempest, tweeting an image of his water bottle. Huh. There’s a person in there.
Maybe I’ll actually have to listen to the speech.