SAN DIEGO, February 15, 2013 ― What was the most important news to take away from President Obama’s State of the Union address and Marco Rubio’s GOP response? Are media pundits talking about Obama’s desire for even more taxation, a hunger showing no signs of ever being satiated? Are they discussing his comments about gun control, or focusing their laser minds on his plans for immigration reform? Have they wondered whether the murder of an ambassador carries implications for our foreign policy, hence the state of the union, and if so, why Obama expressed no concern, let alone remorse in his Tuesday speech?
No, the real news of the evening was far more riveting. During the Republican rebuttal speech, Senator Marco Rubio, actually stopped for a second to take a drink of water.
Yes, a drink of water. “Did Rubio’s water gaffe drown his presidential hopes for 2016?” That was the question on mainstream media minds Wednesday morning. “Oh, the humanity!”
Who could sum it up better than CNN? They ran a video of Rubio drinking his water above a caption which read, “Career Ender.” That ludicrous caption itself should end the career of the CNN hacks who wrote and ran it. CNN journalism seems suddenly well below the standards of Edward R. Murrow.
If anything, this incident makes a case for radio over television. NPR commentators, blithely unaware of the unfolding water scandal (must we call it “watergate”?), focused with some seriousness on Rubio’s words. Without distracting images, people are forced to actually listen to what a speaker says, and Rubio had a lot to say on Tuesday.
“Raising taxes won’t create private sector jobs. And there’s no realistic tax increase that could lower our deficits by almost $4 trillion. That’s why I hope the President will abandon his obsession with raising taxes and instead work with us to achieve real growth in our economy…The idea that more taxes and more government spending is the best way to help hardworking middle class taxpayers - that’s an old idea that’s failed every time it’s been tried,” said Rubio.
“More government isn’t going to help you get ahead. It’s going to hold you back. More government isn’t going to create more opportunities. It’s going to limit them. And more government isn’t going to inspire new ideas, new businesses and new private sector jobs. It’s going to create uncertainty.”
Those are powerful words, but apparently not powerful enough to erase the image of him stooping to reach his bottle of water. Who can take seriously a man whose aides don’t put his water where he can reach it? Why wasn’t it in a more attractive glass? Was this some cheesy B-teamer drinking out of a cheap plastic bottle, shilling for Poland Spring, the water bottler?
How one little sip of water can drown the media’s greatest minds in a sea of tabloid speculation!
If people paid a little less attention to the trivial and more to the message, the stark contrast between Rubio and Obama would be dominating the news cycle. The deep principles and plain language of Rubio’s message might be better contrasted to the glib vacuity of “Obamanese.”
The media obsession with Rubio’s water bottle illustrates what’s so terribly wrong with the media. It explains how reporters fail to understand that “bipartisanship” is Obama’s way of saying, “do it my way.” It explains their inability to distinguish between investment and simply throwing money at what they identify as problems. Unable to distinguish rhetoric from reality, they hear Obama describe the bloated carcass of his stimulus package as a castle on a hill and beg for more.
The media are so busy nattering about Rubio’s water that they don’t ask whether a higher, mandatory minimum wage means that employers who cannot afford to comply will simply hire fewer people. Giddy with Rubio’s unfortunate visual gaffe, they are intoxicated by Obama’s promise to defeat Congress with two magic words, “Executive Order,” forgetting that it is reminiscent of Augustus Caesar circumventing the Roman Senate, doing as tyrants have always done when they find democratic institutions inconvenient to “getting the people’s business done.”
Rubio’s drink of water is hilarious to people who are drunk. They are drunk on Obama, besotted with his words and his style like drunks in a gutter, incapable of listening to him with a critical ear, braying like donkeys when he gives the command.
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Bob sometimes selects reader’s comments and responds to them on his radio show. Details of his program can be found at www.bobsiegel.net.
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