Editor’s Note: Mitchell Whitus is the President of University of Colorado Boulder College Republicans. The opinions expressed herein do not represent CU Independent or any of its affiliates.
We all know the events that dominated the headlines last week: the Pope resigned, the President gave his State of the Union address and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) took a now-infamous swig of water.
There is no doubt about it: Rubio could not have been more awkward. In the middle of his speech, while still looking at the camera, Rubio bent down to grab a drink from a tiny plastic water bottle. The social media scene exploded. CNN aired a segment suggesting the incident was a “career-ender.” The uproar even led to a Saturday Night Live sketch.
The senator himself poked fun at the incident, tweeting a picture of a plastic water bottle. Self-deprecating humor will probably allow for the media frenzy to blow over soon.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 13, 2013
But Rubio’s speech deserves more than late-night talk show quips. Looking past the “Watergate” firestorm, the Republican senator offered a well-reasoned, articulate and heartfelt response to the president’s State of the Union address.
Rubio began by discussing what has become the Republican staple during the Obama administration: that small government will create more prosperity than the president’s vision of an active, all-encompassing federal bureaucracy. The senator also pointed out that the government spends $1 trillion more than it takes in every year. Failing to reform major expenditures like Medicare will simply make government programs and our nation itself broke.
But Rubio’s most brilliant moment came when he directly challenged the president’s assertion that Republicans only care about the wealthy.
“Mr. President, I don’t oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich,” Rubio said. “I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors.”
In those few seconds, the Florida senator was able to define a platform that the Romney campaign could not articulate during the entire election season.
As a young Republican, I was excited to hear Rubio address the president’s notion that the Republican Party protects “the wealthy few.” Rubio spoke of a party that believes in hand-ups and not merely handouts, empowerment and not merely pity. In short, his speech was indicative of a party that, for the first time in a long time, is redefining itself. Rubio was not constantly on the defensive against attacks from the other side; he was casting a vision.
In order to continue much-needed political discourse, it is imperative for us to look past the sensationalism that the media often give political stories. Awkward as it was, the man was only getting a drink of water. If that is a “career-ender,” then all hope is lost for our political system. Rubio’s response was important because it indicated a Republican Party that is willing and able to lead once again. Whether to compliment or criticize, whether liberal, conservative, or somewhere in-between, let’s watch Rubio’s speech and actually discuss its content.
Contact College Republicans President Mitchell Whitus at Mitchell.email@example.com.