By Brian Nistler
Like most of America, I was astonished at the moment Senator Marco Rubio reached across the live video-screen to alleviate his cotton-mouth during the GOP response to the President’s State of The Union Address. It did not take long for the internet to go crazy; the reaction to Marco Rubio’s drinking problem blew up in a moment with the creation of Twitter accounts of his water, transformation of Mr. Rubio’s gaff into a .gif, and the latching on of news anchors to his mistake, speculating about whose fault it was and which aide failed to place water in a container in front of Mr. Rubio. Even Mr. Rubio himself poked fun at his mistake. However, due to all the laughing and subsequent distraction, who can remember what the man said? All I recall is the expression on his face as he reached across the screen. One candid moment can make or break a person, and cause extensive review of the implication of the mistakes. At the end of the day the man took a drink of water. Is the U.S. public so impacted by insignificant aspects of someone that awkwardly, and hilariously, grabbing water from off screen actually influences our perception so much that Marco will lose votes, if he runs? Our world is increasingly cementing every action we take, immortalized through the need for 24-hour news and Youtube. I hope the dialogue and intelligence of our nation is better than that, but I have my doubts.
Politics in our nation have become more and more reliant upon short, small excerpts, which seek to set our opinion of a person in a moment’s time. As Alexandra Petri from the Washington times articulated so well, our messages have been reduced “to a series of mockable moments, the GIFication of our national discourse.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2013/02/13/marco-rubios-drinking-problem/)We are becoming a nation plagued with short attention spans, desiring immediate satisfaction, and preferring to edit a GIF of Marco’s mistake rather than listen to what the now front runner of the Republican Party is actually saying in response to the President’s State of the Union, a subsequent response that sets the tone for this year’s agenda and politics.
The public’s distraction from real political discourse will not stop politics from moving forward: a possible sequester may set in, immigration reform is on the table, the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on gay marriage, and for the first time in a long while, a congress is hounding a possible cabinet member in an arguably MaCarthyism type fashion.
Now I am not saying we shouldn’t have our fun when a politician slips, but I know that I did not recall Rubio’s points after his fateful moment. Upon going back and watching the rest of the speech I discovered Senator Rubio began to address taxes after his ‘Watergate incident,’ an issue that has bookended our national discourse for the past four plus years. Mr. Rubio then said something I found admirable: “At a time when one showdown after another ends in short-term deals that do little or nothing about our real problems, some are starting to believe that our government leaders just can’t or won’t make the right choices anymore. But our strength has never come from the White House or the Capitol. It’s always come from our people. A people united by the American idea that, if you have a dream and you are willing to work hard, nothing should be impossible.” (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/13/full-text-and-video-of-marco-rubio-s-state-of-the-union-response.html) This rhetoric is valid and should be listened to if not for any other reason that to hope Mr. Rubio holds his party to task in creating real sustainable solutions. Mr. Rubio is an up and coming politician that has the ability to shape how the Republican Party will present itself over the next years.
A young Cuban American, his patents immigrants from Cuba Mr. Rubio has been praised by several prominent members of his party, John Boehner was quotes as saying “He carries our party’s banner of freedom, opportunity and prosperity in a way few others can.” Karl Rove has called Rubio “the best communicator since Ronald Reagan.” Rubio is different from the usual republican establishment in that he still lives in “the same working class neighborhood I grew up in,” and the $100,000 in student loans he only recently paid off. He could be a showing of departure from the norm in the GOP; however, who among the public will notice if he doesn’t get over his drinking problem?