It’s been nearly a week since President Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address. Yet many folks are still mesmerized by Senator Marco Rubio’s impromptu and awkward water bottle moment during the official response.
By now, many millions of people know about Rubio’s water bottle debacle. He’s received so much coverage from both traditional and social media that we might as well dub it Water Bottle-gate.
The mainstream media and the blogosphere lit up -- and are still buzzing -- about the young senator’s unfortunate political gaffe on the national stage. The water bottle moment was seized upon by many reporters and pundits as an easily preventable problem which only obscured Rubio’s message and hurt his public image. But did it really?
Help or Hindrance?
Rubio supporters were quick to blame the news media for the negative assessments. Yet blaming the media is sometimes an easy default position to deflect attention from the truth.
Moreover, this tactic doesn’t always sit well with the public, who usually prefer political accountability over the blame game. In this case, the conventional wisdom was that Rubio blew a golden opportunity. At least that's how it may have appeared on a superficial level.
But consider the flipside…
Interestingly enough, Rubio beats out the President for the number of “results” via a simple Google search. This is odd because Presidents almost always receive more media coverage from a SOTU address compared to the politician who provides the opposing party’s response.
However, at least according to one sample Google search, Rubio wins in a landslide:
That's a big victory for the underdog.
Rubio also edges out the President on YouTube, where it's a closer race:
The President receives about 250,000 views of the official White House video.
Rubio receives over 260,000 views of the infamous water sip via an ABC News clip.
Sometimes in politics the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about, as the saying goes.
Thus Rubio and his supporters may have the media to thank rather than blame. This is primarily because national name recognition is a key political component for a potential presidential run, especially for a relatively unknown junior senator -- a national newbie.
Of course, "Saturday Night Live" couldn’t resist getting in on the action with a hilarious skit on the segment Weekend Update -- which has a large cult-like following.
The spoof provided even more attention and name recognition for Rubio among a key voting demographic. Another big win.
This episode just humanizes Rubio by proving he's a regular guy. People can relate to that.
Further, most folks actually like water -- drinking agua is no cardinal sin. It's not like Rubio chugged a Bud Light or did Tequila shots in front of a nationwide TV audience.
So what's the big fuss? Several years from now, or less, no one will really remember Rubio's water bottle debacle anyway -- much less care about it at the voting booth.
The good news for young Rubio is that his apparent political setback positions him nicely for a big comeback. How? By lowering future expectations. It's better to over-deliver than under-deliver.
And, if nothing else, at least now everybody knows Rubio's name -- which is a political gold standard by any measure, especially during a presidential campaign.
* NOTE: All views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only.