We Are All Maureen Dowd

Not sure how many of you are on Twitter, but the progressive Twittersphere exploded in hilarity when Marco Rubio took a drink of water during his response to the State of the Union.

I know, right. Water! Ha ha ha ha?

I’m sure you’ll see plenty of hilarious discussions about this in the next 24 hours.

Look, Marco Rubio is an awful guy. He wants to destroy the middle class, make abortion illegal, etc., etc. The only reason Republicans are looking at him as their savior in 2016 is that he’s brown. There’s all kinds of things to attack him on. Go for it. Tear his horrible ideas to shreds.

But who the hell cares if Marco Rubio got cottonmouth and had to take a drink of water? Is this really what progressives want to be talking about? Are we all Maureen Dowd now, using trivia to make cheap, pointless political jabs based on nothing?

Between this and the George W. Bush paintings, the impossible has happened–I feel bad for right-wing politicians whose ideas I find abhorrent. Thanks!

199 comments on this post.
  1. John Protevi:

    You know I’m a big fan, but I think a “lighten up, Francis” is in order here.

  2. Scanner:

    For me it’s not the water-drinking, it’s that the staging was so clumsy that Rubio to stop and glance over, panicked, far to his left and bend over to grab a bottle. And the cameraman decided to follow him by panning over. That elevated it from “hurr durr teleprompter” to an amusing moment. I did dislike that it was the first thing Maddow mentioned after cutting back to the MSNBC studio; the guy’s ideas deserve a fair hearing (which Chris Matthews proceeded to demolish).

    It’s an easy thing to have solved with having Rubio stand in front of a low table.

  3. J.D. Rhoades:

    Rubio looked clumsy, sweaty, and amateurish throughout the speech. “The drink” was just the culmination of the fiasco. It made whoever put him up there look incompetent. That matters to people. Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does. Remember Nixon, circa 1960?

    It certainly was more memorable than the speech itself, which was standard right wing boilerplate.

  4. Barbara Smith:

    On the other hand, that was a really funny moment. I was laughing and crying after it. It isn’t like people are taking pleasure that he broke his leg skiing or something, but here he is, very somber, very nervous, lying in just about every sentence – to the extent I was shouting expletives at the tv – and then out of nowhere, he leans down.

    I had NO idea what was happening. Was he going to pull out a chart, a prop, Ted Nugent? And then he simply needed water.

    It would not nearly have been so funny if he had a table at proper height, near him, and a proper glass of water. The staging is what made it so amusing. Especially since it interrupted such a terrible (content-wise and delivery) speech.

  5. Erik Loomis:

    It’s my goal to make everyone in the world hate me by the end of 2013. The gun nuts and the anarchists and Glenn Greenwald already hate me. Now I have to work on new groups.

  6. sleepyirv:

    I’m sorry, did something important happen there? It’s the response to the State of the Union, an incredibly pointless event that’s best known for its awkwardness. His speech were warmed over talking points from the election, an election the Republicans lost. And the reaction you’re criticizing is from twitter, a platform where you cannot make substantial policy points.

    If he didn’t embarrassed himself, we wouldn’t talking about it at all.

  7. Bert:

    Not working because we still love you but jeez, “Lighten up, Loomis.”

  8. Law Spider:

    Rubio: Please stay focused on my dry mouth. That criticism I can eventually rebut (and it will help to lower my 2016 debate-performance expectations). Thanks!

  9. JKTHs:

    His speech tone sounded like a campaign ad at times. Also did he something about Obama wanting to control the weather?

  10. John Protevi:

    After getting involved in a land war in Asia, talking smack to the twitterati is generally speaking high up on the list of things to be avoided. #knowwhatimsaying?

  11. McAllen:

    See, on the one hand I agree with everyone that it’s not a huge deal to make fun of political opponents when they do kind of goofy stuff. On the other hand, my twitter feed is completely saturated with jokes about this, and I’m already sick of it.

  12. Erik Loomis:

    I think it’s pretty clear that I was never taught as a child when to shut up. It’s a family tradition.

  13. joe from Lowell:

    It’s an easy thing to have solved by having Rubio act like taking a sip of water during a speech is no big deal, instead of looking like he was doing something horrible and trying to do it really fast so we wouldn’t notice.

  14. Lev:

    After that speech, I’m convinced that “Marco Rubio” is a character from a sub-par political thriller from a few years ago who somehow became alive a la a Charlie Kauffman film. There’s the name, sorta but not quite authentic sounding. The actor playing Rubio overdoes it a little bit on the body language, very politiciany, maybe too much so, like someone watched too many hours of politicians talking and applied too much. But the substancelessness was pretty true to form. I’d probably buy it, though it’s a little uninspired. That actor should find a better project next time.

  15. Erik Loomis:

    See–let’s make fun of him talking about Obama wanting to control the weather. I mean, the jokes are a little harder, but they are better if you can tell them.

  16. joe from Lowell:

    You know who really needs to be told that it’s no big deal for someone to take a sip of water while giving a speech?

    Marco Rubio.

  17. djw:

    Yeah, I didn’t see it live, so maybe it was weirder than usual, but it seems to me I’ve seen people drink water during a speech plenty of times, without inspiring any kind of reaction at all.

  18. JKTHs:

    Uh…if that’s how an ostensibly important politician characterizes responding to climate change…

    Not really a joke, just counterproductive.

  19. Paul:

    My laughter came straight from the “Savior” tag he received from Time. THIS, is the savior? Not smart enough to make a comment about being thirsty? He could have just said: “Excuse me.” Taken the drink calmly, then moved on. No one would have batted an eyebrow. Not natural, not at all. Not savior. not at all.

  20. Erik Loomis:

    I just saw the replay. The problem was there wasn’t a glass of water right there so he had to reach far for the water.

    I know, that alone makes him clearly unqualified for the office or something.

  21. JKTHs:

    BTW in case you didn’t notice, basically the entire point of Twitter is to generate stupid memes. Twitter’s always gonna be that way, it’s stupid and annoying, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

  22. Erik Loomis:

    Well, he’s horrible on those issues. Expose that, not some bad optics on water drinking.

  23. Paul:

    Also see: Republicans elevating all kinds of stupid sh!t into the public consciousness.

  24. Chester Allman:

    Generally speaking, I think the party of privilege and its representatives deserve any and all forms of ridicule that can possibly be applied to them.

    In this specific case, I only want to note that it’s even funnier in slow motion.

  25. Ahistoricality:

    Part of the problem, though, is that there was nothing new there. Nothing in Rubio’s speech was new, remotely well-articulated, or particularly responsive to Obama’s proposals — which, while aggressively straddling the middle, were at least actual proposals — so there’s very little to say that hasn’t been said.

    The speech could have been written any time over the last two years — I swear some of it was from Romney’s stump speech — and the only thing that was going to make it worth hearing or hearing about was delivery.

  26. Erik Loomis:

    So Marco Rubio was the star of Synecdoche, New York? That’s kind of mind-blowing in a way to think about.

  27. Barbara Smith:

    It really is funnier in slow motion. Although it didn’t get me until the end, when Rubio looks at the camera after placing the bottle back. That look is priceless.

  28. Erik Loomis:

    Right, it was total garbage. I think pointing that out instead of a bit of cottonmouth is probably more useful.

  29. JKTHs:

    A lot of vague meaningless crap, basically the Republicans’ attempt to pretend like they’re redefining themselves because they’re not actually proposing anything specific to redistribute wealth upward.

  30. JKTHs:

    Welp, the media has to feed the meme of presidents having good “optics” by pretending that optics are important because they assume that people will think that optics are important. Or something.

  31. Scott Lemieux:

    Well, it’s excellent news for Gail Collins: if Rubio runs she can just file every one of her columns between this week and November 2016 tomorrow.

  32. Ahistoricality:

    I mostly agree. Given the banal repetition, doing a line-by-line fact-check would be trivial. Maybe that’s the problem.

    At the same time, Rubio’s supposed to be a professional. He’s not a “come from nowhere” non-politician suddenly thrust into the limelight. A professional should be prepared, reasonably in shape for the task, and be able to handle routine exceptions. Insofar as Rubio himself is interesting — candidate of the future, etc. — the moment reveals a lack of professionalism.

  33. Lev:

    You’ve heard the old saw about how if God didn’t exist, it would be necessary for man to create Him (Voltaire, I believe). Suddenly Republicans have a young, telegenic Hispanic politician at a high level. It begs the question…

  34. Aaron Baker:

    Does this mean you no longer want his head on a stick?

  35. Erik Loomis:

    The next time I hear a reference to that, it’s far too soon.

  36. Erik Loomis:

    Just wait for George P. Bush.

  37. commie atheist:

    So, making fun of Bobby Jindal after his rebuttal, because he looked like a complete dork, thereby ending whatever chance he had at being the GOP savior – you’re saying that people should have actually addressed his bullshit comments about earthquake prediction being a waste of money? Well, as I recall, they did both.

    The point is, people see Rubio being totally unprepared for a major speech on national TV, as they saw Jindal resembling Kenneth the Page more than a national leader, and they make judgments. You can blame people for focusing on relatively unimportant things, but when those things reveal a larger truth – this guy isn’t ready to lead – then it’s a shorthand for the rest of it.

  38. Vance Maverick:

    Was she the one who, while at other times sane, wrote dozens and dozens of columns mentioning the anecdote of Romney’s dog?

  39. whetstone:

    Making a joke on twitter is just the same as wasting the most valuable real estate in American journalism! I’ll have to tell my bartender that he should treat every fleeting moment as if he was Walter Cronkite. Especially since he has a bigger audience than most of the people who made marco rubio jokes on twitter.

    Lighen up, francis.

  40. BigHank53:

    The guy is a damn Senator. If he can’t figure out where to find a podium or a glass or at least know exactly how long he can talk before his mouth dries out….what the heck does he know?

    We’re talking basic debate-team crap here. He was speaker of the Florida House. He has a law degree. This was arguably the most important speech he’s ever given–certainly the highest profile–and he choked on something your average ninth grader would have prepared for.

  41. commie atheist:

    Exactly. The drink will be remembered, because the rest of the speech was so damn unmemorable.

  42. commie atheist:

    No, that just reinforce the not-ready-for-prime-time vibe that he has already been actively perpetuating.

  43. Uncle Ebeneezer:

    The Fish and Wildlife Lieutenant that was giving a press conference on the Dorner manhunt site out here in LA, just stopped to take a drink of water. “Ah, that helps a lot” he said. I hope he doesn’t aspire to higher office.

  44. chomko:

    There were pictures of his family carefully positioned on a windowsill where nobody would keep pictures of his or her family. There was the carefully-but-artlessly-held smile with which he opened the speech. And then there was the amusing fumble for a tiny bottle of water.

    …everything was so carefully and artfully choreographed, but this is all that’s memorable, production-wise. There’s a metaphor there, but I’m too tired to construct it.

    More importantly, this jives completely with the message that “Republicans can’t govern, can’t in fact do ANYTHING without doing it ineptly.” It’s far more accurate than it was during the lengthy period when a similar label was applied to the Democratic Party, so anything that’ll make it stick is well worth stressing. It doesn’t matter that Marco Rubio had trouble grabbing a water bottle, not really, but if helps make him as “unelectable” as any genuinely liberal or (God help me!) genuinely left-wing politician, then I can’t see that that’s a problem. If capable and intelligent people on the left are to be ruled out simply because of all that, then ruling out horrendous idiots on the right for inconsequential reasons hardly seems an objectionable practice.

  45. SamR:

    Seriously, though, lighten up.

    To put it another way, 2 things happened during Rubio’s speech tonight. The first was that he read his scripted remarks, a speech filled with familiar lies that could have been cribbed from Romney-Ryan.

    The second was that he took a hilariously loud and awkward gulp of water while sweating like a guilty suspect under hot lights.

    Of course the 2nd one is going to get more attention! It should get more attention if only because there’s a limit to the number of times you make a big deal out of the fact that a Republican speech is filled with lies.

  46. Erik Loomis:

    Well, now that I know the guy took a drink of water, I think it’s pretty clear Dorner was innocent.

  47. Scott Lemieux:

    Yes. And unlike Dowd, Collins is actually capable of good work; she just generally chooses not to.

  48. Mike Dixon, BFA:

    I think Bush’s paintings are pretty cool!

  49. Scott P.:

    Yes, this is the kind of B.S. justification the media gives for obsessing about pantsuits or earth tones or blinking. It’s supposed to be some super secret insight into character or competency or whatever. I just don’t buy it.

  50. Erik Loomis:

    Honestly, I kind of liked the Bush paintings. Who knew he had that side to him?

    I mean, he should still be tried for war crimes, but we can all use the reminder that people are complex, no matter how good or evil or mediocre their politics are.

  51. dswift:

    It’s right to laugh. It’s good manners to regret laughing, for the shoe could be on the other foot. We of the EcoPure™ tribe would not deprive a man of water, the lubricant of all life, when he needs it, would we?

    Rudely, we laugh again because his cottonmouth betrayed his ultimate dorkishness. He’s a stiff, a rote politician dispensing formerly effective talking points that are losing their market share. He told a huge lie with a straight face and de debbil made him choke.

  52. commie atheist:

    Sorry, no. This was a self-inflicted wound. The other things were media-generated, and were based on an agenda that was created to destroy a candidate. There’s a reason why the internet went nuts – it looked ridiculous, in real time.

  53. commie atheist:

    Pretty much this. Plus, if a lefty politician had done the same thing, there would be a Republican SuperPac created to run ads using it the next morning.

  54. redwoods:

    +1, all day long.

  55. bob_is_boring:

    That explains two things then.

  56. bob_is_boring:

    *sniff* and I thought I was the only one.

  57. bob_is_boring:

    OK, yes. After agreeing with Erik initially, that is officially the best thing ever for approximately the next 14 hours.

  58. James E. Powell:

    And you know who else had a knack for painting?

  59. Suffern ACE:

    Wait…he had pictures of his family? I thought this was shot in Boehner’s office? Why does Boehner have pictures of Rubio’s family?

  60. whetstone:

    Also–it was just funny. It really just was. Even from a non-partisan perspective. It’s hard to explain, exactly, but he seemed genuinely surprised by his thirst, and by the distance of the bottle, and then by his transparent reaction to being surprised by both of those things while delivering an important (but not really) address. I’m willing to renounce any political or ideological significance, but I’ll be damned if I deny that it was amusing.

  61. UserGoogol:

    I didn’t bother to actually listen to the speech, but “controlling the weather” is a fairly standard way Republicans belittle Obama for caring about global warming. Since the point is to mock, the problem isn’t that it sounds silly, the problem is that global warming really is a problem and addressing the issue on such a superficial level is not a serious way of dealing with the issues.

  62. RhZ:

    That’s perfect, thank you.

    Erik, I think the commenters are right. Rather than criticize and come off like a stern schoolmarm, well just make some adjustments. Many think the drinking water was funny, just connect that with the flop sweat and obvious lies…something along those lines.

  63. Patrick Pine:

    After all of the ridiculous crap hurled at President Obama the last five years this pales in comparison.

  64. StevenAttewell:

    I’m sorry, but this reeks of pearls-clutching process liberalism, and I will have no truck with it. Politics is not a debating society, being right does not bring victory, and the stakes are too high to afford noble defeat.

  65. Tim Eigo:

    The drink was superb, truly bumblicious. But this response string is the real deal. It should be entered in a comedy competition, or a laugh-til-you-cry Storify or something (really). As a group, I’m hoping you live-tweet all news coverage from here on out. Think of it as national service.

    And now, I have to seek out Bush’s paintings again, to end my day. Thanks!

  66. Jewish Steel:

    Where’s your messiah now? Nyahh!

  67. Jewish Steel:

    oh, no reason. it would be a shame if something happened to such a lovely family…

  68. RhZ:

    Was he going to pull out a chart, a prop, Ted Nugent?

    Hilarious. I wish he had pulled Ted Nugent out, would have been great!

  69. Shwell Thanksh:

    The water thing was just icing on the cake. I had already lost it by then.

    I went from shouting angry incoherencies at Rubio on teevee (“Preach it, brother! Tell us again about how touching and wonderful it was when your dying mother’s healthcare was paid for by heartless out of control wasteful government spending! And how terrifying the Obama-sequester is gonna be because it will cut the US military budget since government spending never ever created a single job!”) to laughing uproariously as Rubio desperately tried to quickly reach into his mouth to grab his tongue with his fingers so he could pull off the gummy cottonmouth splooge and wipe it on his pants.

    I’d watch it again, but I’m afraid I’d wet myself.

  70. herr doktor bimler:

    WINSTON CHURCHILL.

  71. expatchad:

    But also true is that there currently is a winger nutjob conspiracy theory on TV spots for either Discovery or Nat Geo that aircraft contrails are an attempt to, wait for it, control the weather and crop production…..

  72. expatchad:

    Or that Rubio will pursue fugitives…

  73. expatchad:

    Themselves, mostly…

  74. expatchad:

    He has a law degree.

    Well, there you are…

  75. Anonymous:

    Jibes, Jibes, JIBES!

  76. expatchad:

    So, making fun of Bobby Jindal after his rebuttal, because he looked like a complete dork, thereby ending whatever chance he had at being the GOP savior

    Didn’t help his chances for the Nobel Prize in Physics, either, I’ll wager.

  77. RhZ:

    Contempt is an effective tool, when deployed properly.

  78. Stag Party Palin:

    Eric, you do remember that they got Al Capone for tax evasion, don’t you?

  79. Jules McWyrm:

    Not limited to the right-wing, unfortunately.

    AFAIK unlike other conspiracy theories this one doesn’t get alluded to by career politicians of either stripe but paranoids on both the left and right stay up at night fretting about contrails.

  80. rea:

    He’s just a dumb blond . . .

  81. The Dark Avenger:

    As the Republicans have demonstrated for the last 3 decades……

  82. Eric:

    Two words: Moland Spring.

  83. Manju:

    Y’know Erik…Vodka looks like water. Maybe he was having a Martini.

  84. rea:

    Because (explaining the joke), “Rubio” means (male ) blond …

  85. Uncle Kvetch:

    Martinis aren’t made with vodka.

  86. Manju:

    But are gin martinis made for Republicans?

  87. N__B:

    That movie had no stars, only victims.

  88. Walt:

    Manju was testing you. You passed.

  89. JoyfulA:

    At least he didn’t spill any on his tie.

  90. elm:

    Yeah, this is the problem with Erik’s stance here. That MoDo chortles at the stupid things she thinks Al Gore did or didn’t do isn’t the issue: that she wrote column after column during a campaign about it is the issue.

    Twitter is chortling and it’s best to treat it as such.

  91. Tod Westlake:

    Taking a sip of water isn’t a big deal, but having to duck nearly off camera when hundreds of millions are watching certainly is — and it looked pretty inept. Why didn’t they have a small table within easy reach, or put him at a podium? To me, it shows just how ill prepared for leadership these people are if they can’t do a 15 minute televised speech without looking like a bunch of dopes.

  92. Eric:

    Yup. If he had casually said, “Excuse me” and reached over for a sip, without creepily trying to maintain eye contact with the camera at all times, then continued, people would have mentioned it afterwards. But it wouldn’t have dominated the coverage of his speech.

  93. Manju:

    Ok, now I’ve seen the vid. Rubio’s history…unless he goes on Oprah. Letterman, Leno; they are like the Cotton Bowl. Only O can save him now.

  94. Uncle Kvetch:

    Gin martinis are made for everyone with good taste. One drink to rule them all.

  95. Manju:

    Frida Kahlo

  96. The Dark Avenger:

    Oprah only deals with big sinners or saints these days, not goofballs who don’t know how not to embarrass thenselves on national TV.

  97. quercus:

    Yeah, but Pablo Picasso never got called an asshole.

  98. Mike Dixon, BFA:

    Neither did Eric Fischl.

  99. Mike Dixon, BFA:

    Nor, I mean.

  100. Just Dropping By:

    Matisse?

  101. NonyNony:

    But are gin martinis made for Republicans?

    Gin martinis are made for everyone with good taste.

    There you go. You answered Manju’s question.

  102. Just Dropping By:

    having to duck nearly off camera when hundreds tens of millions thousands are watching

    FTFY.

  103. NonyNony:

    Okay so I’m torn.

    In the country that I wish we had, Erik would be absolutely right. Mocking the guy for a lousy speech performance would be a pointless waste of time except to the extent that it would provide a bit of fodder for Leno and Stewart to get a few jokes out. And ripping on the guy’s actual speech content would be a productive use of everyone’s time.

    In the country that I actually live in, Rubio’s nervous performance last night will do more to tank his actual future political career goals than anything in the actual content of his speech.

    I’m annoyed by that fact, but at the same time “you go into elections with the press corpse that you have, not the press corpse that you wish that you had…”

  104. spencer:

    I’ve actually found jobs from Twitter, so no, it’s not just a stupid and annoying meme-generator. Your disappointing experience with the medium may well be connected to the people you follow.

  105. Tod Westlake:

    True. The rest of us were mesmerized by the flop sweat.

  106. lige:

    I’ve been waiting for his arrival on the political scene for awhile. He’s got the name recognition and he can’t be anymore incompetent than his uncle. Of all the presidents who would’ve thought George H.W. Bush would spawn a dynasty?

  107. sibusisodan:

    Perhaps Rubio’s just really, really good at following his TelePrompTer commands?

    TEXT OF SOTU REBUTTAL:

    …and so we see that the arch-Communist Obama [PAUSE. LUNGE FORWARD TO WATER BOTTLE. FLICK EYES AT SCREEN. DRINK FROM BOTTLE AS IF BACK CAN NEVER BE STRAIGHT AGAIN. FLICK EYES AT SCREEN IN MILD DESPERATION. STRAIGHTEN UP. SWALLOW WATER WITH GRIMACE SUGGESTING INGESTION OF STRONG ALCOHOL AND/OR MEDICINE. MAINTAIN EYE CONTACT WITH SCREEN] has viciously expanded the government, and the Republican party…

    So, who was the saboteur?

  108. Cody:

    You know who else drinks water during their speeches…

  109. Cody:

    Or was he just making fun of Rubio?

  110. spencer:

    Thank you.

  111. spencer:

    Robert Byrd.

  112. Western Dave:

    There’s a fine tradition of that. It’s not like William Henry Harrison was a stud muffin President.

  113. arguingwithsignposts:

    Sherwin Williams?

  114. JL:

    So, uh, I think Erik is making a little much of this, but are you suggesting that unless we make fun of Rubio’s awkwardness around drinking water, we’re sabotaging our chances at victory and heading toward noble defeat? I think you’re making a bigger deal of it than Erik.

    Also, I doubt Erik gets accused of pearls-clutching process liberalism very often.

  115. arguingwithsignposts:

    Pretty much. When “heads on a stick” will get a visit from the local constabulary, serious policy discussions are a luxury we don’t actually get to enjoy.

  116. BigHank53:

    Anyone think of asking Howard Dean what he thinks of this?

  117. njorl:

    tsk tsk
    Saying “dumb blonde” and leaving the “e” off.

  118. Anonymous:

    Johannes Vermeer.

  119. njorl:

    I’d like to see it set to the old “Six Million Dollar Man” music.

  120. Why I Mocked Marco Rubio’s Water Fail on Twitter | PROGRESSIVE VOICES:

    [...] focusing on this was a controversial choice. Erik Loomis accused folks like myself of being Maureen Dowd, except Twitter doesn’t actually pay me an ungodly sum a year to crack [...]

  121. JKTHs:

    I didn’t bother to actually listen to the speech, but “controlling the weather” is a fairly standard way Republicans belittle Obama for caring about global warming.

    Odd that I had never heard that before

  122. njorl:

    I think there’s a difference.

    People didn’t talk about Earth tones or blinking or sighs. All of that came from the media. This was a spontaneous reaction from ordinary people.

    I can understand that we shouldn’t want people who discuss national affairs to obsess about this, but expecting ordinary people not to have fun with it is unreasonable. There is more justification for us to be a nation of Maureen Dowds than there is for Maureen Dowd to be Maureen Dowd.

  123. JKTHs:

    Got it. I’ll unfollow Maureen Dowd and get on the David Brooks bandwagon.

  124. Halloween Jack:

    Indeed. To use the familiar comparison, if Obama had done such a clumsy dive for the teensy water glass, the wingnutterati would have been chatting about it for weeks–maybe months, in the case of the real obsessives. (Go ahead and google “obama teleprompter” if you think they’ve gotten past that meme.)

  125. brewmn:

    I agree. I don’t think people actually had jobs before Twitter.

  126. njorl:

    Franz Liebkind: With his cigars, and his brandy, and his ROTTEN paintings! ROTTEN! Hitler, there was a painter! He could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon! Two coats!

  127. JKTHs:

    I never even made it that far. The contradictions were just too much.

  128. brewmn:

    Yeah, this is where I can get on board with the “lighten up” faction. Political coverage now almost completely avoids discussion of issues and looks for “tells” about the “character” of a candidate (dijon mustard on a hamburger, anyone?).

    You can bemoan the state of political discourse in this country and make attempts to elevate it. But, until the media decides that a candidate’s position on a legitimate political issue actually matters, if you can take out a potentially dangerous player for the opposition by exploiting this aspect of political coverage, you take it.

  129. Halloween Jack:

    And the SOTU response is almost always standard party boilerplate; the whole point of it isn’t so much to negate the sitting POTUS’ message as it is to give a promising member of the opposition a chance to shine. And Rubio blew it. It’s not as memorable as Clint Eastwood vs. Empty Chair, but it was a remarkable failure for what should have been an easy gig.

  130. Halloween Jack:

    I think I’ve seen the infomercial for Pocket Nugent.

  131. Halloween Jack:

    I won’t hold my breath; people were anticipating Jeb breaking out into national office for the longest time. W may have broken the dynasty.

  132. Hogan:

    OREGON! WASHINGTON! MICHIGAN!

  133. Halloween Jack:

    Bob Motherfucking Ross.

  134. Helmut Monotreme:

    Isn’t it usually the ventriloquist that has trouble drinking while talking?

  135. Dan:

    Seriously. This is just another excuse for so-called progressives to engage in thirst-shaming. We’re supposed to be better than that, dammit!

  136. g:

    Expectations were raised. As with Jindal, Republicans were telling us that this was the moment for their rising star to shine. And he flopped hilariously. Why wouldn’t we talk about it?

  137. g:

    Well, yeah. Because the F & W Lieutenant knows how to do it without looking like a nervous sophomore at the spring debate contest.

  138. g:

    masculine.

  139. mpowell:

    Right, it’s not drinking water during a speech that makes you look bad. It’s doing it like a clown that makes you look bad. It’s still somewhat juvenile to make a big deal out, but this is what they mean when they say someone isn’t ready for national politics.

  140. Uncle Ebeneezer:

    The F/W guy was definitely a bit nervous, but probably for way different reasons. It was probably his first time on tv, he had to be very careful about not giving out anything info that is still speculative, this has been the biggest story on LA news in years, etc. Also, from a physical perspective, he was up in Big Bear which is pretty dry, and was not too far from a burning cabin. Both make me thirsty just thinking about them.

  141. Matt T. in New Orleans:

    Why didn’t you write a post exposing Rubio’s lies and horrific politics instead of complaining about other people not holding the national discourse in high enough regard, then?

  142. Dilan Esper:

    For your information, the Nixon not shaving story is BS. Polls didn’t move after that debate.

  143. Dilan Esper:

    First thing I noticed in that debate were Gore’s sighs. It wasn’t invented by the media- but it still shouldn’t have been blown up. And neither should Rubio’s water-gate.

  144. Dilan Esper:

    Dowd can do good work too. She had John Edwards figured out when many on the left did not.

  145. mds:

    He’s got the name recognition and he can’t be anymore incompetent than his uncle.

    Yes, yes he can.

  146. mds:

    “Let’s put a happy little water bottle waaaaay over here …”

  147. mds:

    Jeebus, you’d think people were making fun of Rubio’s weight, or the fact that he took on debt to go to law school.

  148. sharculese:

    Dowd’s job is to take whatever politician is currently most prominent on the national stage and blow imagined flaws of character into easily-digestible caricatures presented through third-rate snark. She’s a sneer with a byline.

    From time to time this produces something accurate, but it’s not due to any particular virtue or talent Dowd possesses.

  149. Sam Edwards:

    The wingnutties don’t actually watch Obama. They don’t actually hear anything he says. They only understand what Breitbarts spoon feed them. So if Obama had drank water, there’s a good chance they wouldn’t have picked up on it unless there was some racist meme to harp on.

  150. Halloween Jack:

    Does anyone really believe that, though? I thought it was well-known that he’d just gotten over a serious illness.

  151. Sam Edwards:

    Of Friday we will come *VERY* close to getting smacked by an asteroid. Eventually luck will run out. It’s time to take global warming seriously!!!

    (yes I am kidding. About the asteroid being due to global warming)

  152. Magatha:

    Yeah, the ineptitude is what got me, too. His job was to show up and speak. It’s support staff’s responsibility to check his make-up, make sure his tie is straight, and that there are bathroom facilities conveniently nearby for a pre-speech pit stop, he doesn’t have food stuck in his teeth, and that he can avail himself of a drink of water in an unobtrusive, dignified manner.

    The Republicans’ presidential campaigns were loaded with these basic mis-steps. Everybody screws up sometimes, but they had goofs all the time. Is it leadership, or recruitment of assistants that’s lacking? Or a disrespect for meticulous, boring, but essential planning? Or a disinclination of a nervous or unmotivated support staff to say, “No, listen to me, this little detail is important?”

    Or maybe I’m just having flashbacks to the Iraqi post-invasion Coalition Provisional Authority. When you think you can keep creating your own realities, and you keep rejecting anyone who wants to study anything judiciously, you’re going to spiral out of control.

    I mean, even the most powerful “makers” will eventually trip and break their necks if there aren’t any “takers” to empty the trash, order the supplies, vacuum the conference room, make the coffee, and be sure there are pitchers of water and clean glasses before the big meeting.

    Anyway, that’s what I got out of it, and so I thank you for the post, Erik.

  153. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I laugh to keep from crying. And I don’t mean to to speak for anybody else, but I’m pretty sure the mockery has to do with the fact this bungling is cumulative. I mean, from Bobby Jindal’s “Mr. Rogers” speech to Michelle Bachmann’s Tea Party *this is not the camera you’re looking for* debacle, there comes a point when I just start to wonder if Republicans can do ANYTHING right. And that IS comical.

    As to George Bush’s paintings, I wasn’t aware that people were poking fun. I find them sort of endearing and not entirely without merit. I wish he had been painting and instead of presidenting.

  154. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I guess it’s all about whom you follow. I stop following people who annoy me, like this one dude friend who was single and ready to mingle and twittered/RTed–almost nonstop–a bunch of really crass “flirting” “humor” and sex talk. He basically turned what I had been using as a news and humor aggregate into what I imagine a profile on Ashley Madison would look like.

    But, yeah, follow good people–twitter is good.

  155. Dilan Esper:

    Some character flaws are real.

  156. mds:

    You know, LGM could really use someone schooled in visual rhetoric as part of their blogging team.

  157. Thanks for sharing:

    Can we get a weather update too… or will un-wintry suffice? Also, how will you quench that thirst without a Yuengling? Inquiring minds and all…

  158. Scott Lemieux:

    First thing I noticed in that debate were Gore’s sighs.

    Right, although the people who watched the debate still thought Gore won, so the emphasis placed on it was purely a media creation.

  159. Scott Lemieux:

    Dowd can do good work too. She had John Edwards figured out when many on the left did not.

    This is like the argument that Mickey Kaus deserves credit for knowing that the dodgy rumours he was reporting about Edwards turned out to be true. When, like Dowd, you say that every Democrat is a phony (every male Democrat a woman, every female Democrat a man), you will occasionally be right by accident, but this doesn’t mean she actually knew anything.

  160. Njorl:

    I never new that. I thought it always had an “e” for the noun.

  161. Njorl:

    d’oh! “Knew”

  162. expatchad:

    You’ll run out of stcks WAY before that goal is reached

  163. expatchad:

    And better they do that than think.

    Or try to.

  164. Ahistoricality:

    And those sighs were quite authentic expressions of disdain for fact-free sloganeering, fundamental errors. Turning them into a failing of Gore’s, rather than the failure of Bush to present reasonable and well-founded arguments, was unquestionably a media event.

    I just saw a headline on NPR suggesting that Rubio’s awkwardness was charmingly authentic….

  165. The Dark Avenger:

    “When your enemy makes a blunder, do not interfere!”

  166. That Other Mike:

    The inflatable Nugent?

  167. Bobby Thomson:

    Fuckin’ A.

  168. expatchad:

    Here, getting cruficied by us shaneless libruls….

  169. expatchad:

    SEE!.. No EDIT button!

    What? You expect me to learn to TYPE? Pah!

  170. expatchad:

    What? That he is surreal(ist)? I thought most people DID know.

  171. expatchad:

    John Wayne Gacy?

  172. expatchad:

    Maybe he needs to wear black more often…

  173. Hogan:

    Come back, Shane! Come back!

  174. rea:

    The stopped clock syndrome again . . .

  175. Ed:

    It’s not as easy a gig as it looks, and most of the post-speech respondents fail. As they said on teevee last night, the president usually wins this one. Last night was no different.

    It’s reached a point where you’d think pols would try to avoid this particular gig, but I guess ego and ambition always win out.

  176. The Dark Avenger:

    As someone whose experience in the performing arts included a year of acting and community theater performances, this was a real screw-up on Rubio’s part, given that he’s suppose to be a politician and knows what behavior is expected for a US Senator, especially one who aspires to the Presidency. If you want to be cast in a role, you have to pass some sort of audition.

    And, let’s face it, most people aren’t liberal college professors who treasure the intellect over the merely trivial non-verbal behavior, it was funny, and people are gonna talk about it. Remember, Man may be the only creature that gossips.

    Now, this might not be as damaging to him if he is able to laugh it off, but as a first impression to those who had never watched him on TV before last night, it doesn’t help matters any.

  177. StevenAttewell:

    Not really. I’m just saying it’s not an attitude we should encourage.

  178. Oregon Beer Snob:

    Nobody could’ve predicted [REDACTED]‘s feed would turn out like that…

  179. Manju:

    heh

  180. commie atheist:

    That was ruthless. I wonder where Ruth is?

  181. Manju:

    i don’t know why i’m laughing out loud at this

  182. actor212:

    Erik, Imma merely point this out:

    TELEPROMPTER!

    Nuff said

  183. Manju:

    but it still shouldn’t have been blown up. And neither should Rubio’s water-gate.

    Exactly. The correct response is to bemoan the blow-up, over and over again, with video so folks can judge for themselves.

    Or, as Mark Penn would say; “The issue related to cocaine use is not something that the campaign was in any way raising.”

  184. Manju:

    also, now that watergate has come full circle, can we retire the whole gate thing?

  185. JustRuss:

    It’s the nepotism and ideological purity tests. When Liberty University is your bullpen, you don’t end up with the best and brightest.

    Republican policies make it clear that they don’t care about the folks in the trenches, they honestly don’t think they matter. So they hire a friend of a friend who doesn’t have a clue, and the next thing you know you have Iraq.

  186. kc:

    I know it’s wrong, but damnit, I laughed.

  187. kc:

    Bwahahaha!

  188. Manju:

    well then, maybe Letterman will do:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLFcEWaQJs4&feature=player_embedded

  189. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Love that guy, but that twitter feed was beneath him.

    Of course, my judging someone for flirting on the internet is rather like the Catholic church coming out against NAMBLA.

  190. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    It’s not wrong; it’s human. It was AWKWARD.

  191. josh:

    I had to do a closing argument during a mock trial when I was a summer associate at a law firm years ago. Started flop sweating so badly I started to worry that the blue lines in my white and blue dress shirt would start to bleed together.

    It’s just funny. And, yes, it does make the “flopper” look incompetent. When I was doing that mock trial, I was incompetent.

    Ultimately, I felt bad for Rubio. But I still laughed out loud.

  192. Dilan Esper:

    I agree with ahistoric that I didn’t really mind the sighs– he was reacting to Bush’s BS. But I did notice them, and I also realized that someone who didn’t know how badly Bush was stretching the truth (e.g., the median voter) might very well perceive the sighs as smug. So the post-debate analysis didn’t surprise me.

    That said, everyone needs to realize that this sort of crap doesn’t decide elections anyway. Elections turn on fundamentals– the stuff that cable news types talk about is irrelevant.

  193. Dilan Esper:

    I think Kaus does deserve credit. The reality is there was actually a lot of evidence supporting the Edwards rumors and a lot of liberals put their blinders on and dismissed it because the National Enquirer was reporting it– Kaus was actually right, the Enquirer gets a lot of stories correct.

    At any rate, does Dowd say that Obama is a phony? I haven’t seen her do that. She attacked Clinton, Gore, and Edwards as phonies (of different stripes) because they all were!

  194. gerry:

    Ya better watch out! It out started this way with Somerby.

  195. Pinko Punko:

    I agreed with this post, but jokes on twitter are like farts under the covers. Hope they don’t get out and everything is fine.

  196. Capt. Trollypants:

    Please don’t use the term “optics”- it sounds like Yglesias trying to blow himself, rhetorically.

  197. sibusisodan:

    “also, now that watergate has come full circle, can we retire the whole gate thing?”

    Manju, clearly the only sane and logical thing to do is to rename the original affair ‘Watergategate’ and move on from there.

  198. Cartman:

    {facepalm}

    Right-winger panicked under the tiniest pressure illustrating they aren’t ready for the responsibilities Republicans are placing on them.

    Pseudo-liberal blares: ‘Don’t use effective, obvious and easy attacks!’

    Instead I’m supposed to pretend his lies (and clichéd lies at that) are worthy of my time?

    Right-wing enablers masquerading as ‘liberal’ is why I read Lawyers, Guns & Money, thanks for delivering, Erik.

  199. We Just Made Marco Rubio Bunches Of Money « A Flea in the Fur of the Beast:

    [...] agree with Erik Loomis here: there’s plenty on which to attack Rubio without going all Maureen Down on him. Share [...]

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