Whatever you think of the shocking news that Marco Rubio is a carbon-based life form that requires water to live, I think most reasonable people can agree that the media frenzy about it is remarkably stupid. Indeed, we are now in the part of the cycle where everyone points out that it was somebody else who was overreacting to the “news” that Rubio drinks water when his mouth gets dry. Of course, whoever it was at CNN who put up the caption “Career Ender?” will have a certain kind of immortality as the person who captured the asininity of so much of today’s media culture.
At least they gave Rubio the courtesy of putting a question mark at the end.
Another loser in all this is Rand Paul. His “tea-party response” was very strong and, whether Paul intended it or not, was the perfect sort of event for the MSM to hawk one of its favorite story lines: Republicans in disarray! Civil war on the right! Tea Party versus the establishment! And while much of that narrative would have been pretty idiotic, such idiocy rarely stops the New York Times or MSNBC from obsessing over it. I mean it’s not like Rubio is Susan Collins or anything. But, thanks to the obsession with Rubio’s addiction to dihydrogen monoxide, that story line got short shrift in the press.
The irony here is that the big winner is Rubio himself. No doubt, he probably wouldn’t have planned it this way, but I’m pretty certain he and his advisors are perfectly happy with how this turned out. For starters, the base liked the substance. Moreover, the base loves having a reason to mock the media for being absurdly unfair. Rubio’s star was rising awfully fast, and being hailed as the messiah on the cover of Time magazine is not what GOP-primary voters necessarily want in a Republican standard-bearer.
Politics is about timing as much as anything. Rubio’s star has risen awfully fast, inviting puncturing from all sorts of directions. If Rubio was looking for a way to bring himself down to earth and humanize himself a bit, this was about as good a way as any. There was no corruption, no venality, no arrogance or vanity of any kind on display. The guy got dry mouth and took a drink of water from a bottle placed too far away, and the apparently perennially-moist-mouthed press leapt on it like it was the most mortifying malapropism in memory. He then made fun of himself about it afterwards. A year from now, if the event is remembered at all, it will be remembered as yet another example of media overreaction and, at least on the right, institutionalized hostility to popular conservatives.