“Heaven forbid a guy takes a sip of water,” S.E. told her fellow Cycle hosts. But really, when it’s done with furtive glances toward the camera and an awkward side-step-and-twist motion, you can’t blame people for laughing. Or tweeting. About 9,200 tweets per minute were logged following The Sip. It was a watershed moment: the GIF that kept on giving.
But let’s give credit where credit is due: Marco Rubio got out ahead of the story, tweeting a picture of the little water bottle that produced the gulp heard round the world. But the Dry Mouth Debacle didn’t drown out the larger problem with rebuttals.
For years, parties have responded after a president’s state of the union address. And for years, unlucky party members have faltered in their responses. Bobby Jindal. Steve Kornacki remembers the “disastrous” Democrats in 1985. State of the union rebuttals don’t discriminate: neither party has mastered the art.
Since the tradition began under LBJ, Steve explains, “the parties have tried everything” from pre-taped responses to roundtables where they address each other as “Leader.” And nothing seems to work because, after all the pomp and circumstance of the president’s address, whatever comes next can’t help looking small-time by comparison. And the role of rebuttal spokesperson is a career-killer, besides. It’s a “dead end for individuals,” Kornacki said. “They don’t rocket to stardom after this–they only get made fun of.”
The Cycle hosts agreed that there should be no rebuttals in the future. But for now, we can look forward to the sure-to-come SNL parody of Rubio’s watergate moment.