Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Watershed Moment

It was the swig of water seen 'round the world.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio has caused quite a stir around the Internet (and the water cooler; sorry!) for an oddly-timed grab for a water bottle and a quick swig during his rebuttal to President Obama's State of the Union speech.

In a way, you have to feel for Rubio. It must have been a terrible feeling to know you're on national television and in dire need of water.

But why wasn't Rubio's rebuttal pre-recorded? Everyone who is anyone in Washington gets an advanced copy of the president's SOTU address---especially the folks, you would think, who are charged with formulating the official retort. Instead, Rubio must have delivered his bit live---hence the frantic water grab.

I used to be in local cable TV and watching Rubio's dry mouth dilemma reminded me of something comical (for me, at least) that happened during a live talk show.

The guest was then-leader of the Michigan ACLU, Howard Simon. We started the show (live) and not long into the first question, Simon began coughing uncontrollably. I mean, he gagged and retched for about 8-10 seconds, which is an eternity in live television. When he was through, Simon looked at our host and said, "OK, can we start over?"

Our host grinned sheepishly and said, "Uhh...we're live!"

Simon was aghast. "You're kidding," was all he could manage.

Uh, no.

I didn't see Rubio's "moment" live, when it happened. I had stepped out of the room and my wife told me about it. She was beside herself with laughter as she recounted it.


Rubio's "watershed" moment


So it wasn't until much later in the evening when I finally saw the water grab. And, I must admit, even knowing it was coming, I still cringed. I can only imagine what it must have been like to see live, when you didn't know right away what was happening.

Rubio kind of lurched and leaned to his left, reaching for the bottle that was just off camera. He grabbed the bottle, took a quick swig, and continued his address. To me, the funniest part was his efforts to never take his eyes off the camera the entire time.

If you saw it live, you must have wondered if you were seeing a guy about to go down. I never got that sensation, but it was still awkward as hell.

Rubio, God bless him, made light of the moment. He posted a pic on Twitter of an empty Poland Spring water bottle. He swigged water this morning on the TV shows on which he was a guest.

"I needed water, what am I going to do?" Rubio asked on ABC's Good Morning America.  "God has a funny way of reminding us that we're human."

And also to pre-record next time.

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