I didn’t watch the State of the Union last night. When I’m in the mood to watch a show about nothing, I just watch reruns of Seinfeld. But apparently a lot of people did watch it, because, when I logged into Facebook today, everyone was abuzz.
Abuzz about what? The president’s escalation of deadly drone strikes? The continued politicization of Sandy Hook as a pretext for more gun control? Questions about when the “mess that Obama inherited” will ever end?
If you think so, then you’ve never met the kinds of people who obsessively follow politics. For most of these people, politics is an all-consuming hobby or a career path, not an opportunity to worry about important moral questions.
So, the buzz focused on something quite different. That is: it turns out that Marco Rubio took a sip of water during his reply speech.
The news was important enough that Politico still kept as its headline well into the evening today.
The linked article begins:
Sen. Marco Rubio’s inopportune case of cotton mouth during his State of the Union response may slow his rapidly rising stock, but will likely have no little [sic?] lingering impact on his 2016 prospects, Republican operatives said Wednesday.
Well, that must be a relief for Rubio. According to one of the best-trafficked political websites, the fact that he took a sip of water during a yesterday’s speech should not impact a presidential race 3 years from now. Genius! With analysis like that, I could be writing for Politico, and would be reaching a much wider audience than I do right now.
In case you need more analysis, see also the Atlantic‘s article, “Marco Rubio’s Awkward Drink of Water: A Deconstruction.”
This seems like the time to mention how low the news media have actually fallen. But what’s the point? The Atlantic and Politico are only focusing on what their readers care about. And the fact that this is what their readers are focusing on—on Facebook and elsewhere—tells us all too much about modern political culture.