How a Few Drops of Water Instantly Extinguished a Once-Brilliant Political Star
By Ken K. Gourdin
He had a good run, captivated at least the most fervent among Republican believers, worried their Democrat counterparts. Here was someone who is young, good-looking, photogenic and telegenic, articulate, having a Reaganesque quality about him (or at least, one was imputed to him). He could hold listeners’ and viewers’ attention with a compelling story of rising from humble circumstances to achieve success.
He was someone who gave those who were most disheartened by President Barack Obama’s defeat of the more well-heeled, apparently less-empathetic, more-stodgy former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney hope, spawning talk—four years in advance of the next presidential election—of “front-runner” status in the Republican field even when mere days or weeks, in political terms, is an eternity.
He did an admirable job to help Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention, his speech introducing the candidate to America being, arguably, the Convention’s second-most important address, after the one delivered by the candidate himself.
Then, he ruined it all.
What happened? Was he undone by scandalous allegations of cheating in law school? Hat tip to Vice President Joe Biden and to the double-standard by which a compliant, complicit media often sees to it that the careers (not to mention the lives) of Republican candidates are ruined by such allegations. (Democrats, meanwhile, are re-elected to the Senate several times and go on to serve as Vice President.)
Was he undone by scandalous allegations of marital cheating with a political aide who then drowns in mysterious circumstances after the car in which she was riding with the senator plunges into the water off of Martha’s Vineyard, while the senator somehow miraculously manages to escape harm but fails to report the tragic accident for about nine hours, and allegedly enlists friends and family to engage in a coverup?
Did he embezzle funds? Take advantage of the elderly, vulnerable, or infirm? Cheat on his taxes (hello, “Turbo Tax” former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner)? Was he busted for “partying hardy” with coke, booze, and hookers? No. Still, it’s not as though the young, inexperienced, brash politician whom the Republicans chose to rebut the State of the Union Address had much of a chance against President Obama’s enormous charisma and rhetorical brilliance in the first place.
But Senator Marco Rubio (R – Fla.) lost whatever fighting chance he may have had against the president’s stellar qualities when he [Gasp!] took a sip of water on national television in the middle of a speech! Sure, it was only a small sip—a few drops at most—but, the scandal! The temerity! The gall! How gauche! How can he ever expect the American electorate to trust him again? Ah, well. If he plays his cards right—but only if he plays them exactly right—he might have a future as a political pundit amongst the talking heads.
Sigh. How the mighty have fallen.
 See E.J. Dionne (September 18, 1987), “Biden Admits Plagiarism in Law School But Says It Was Not ‘Malevolent’,” The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/1987/09/18/us/biden-admits-plagiarism-in-school-but-says-it-was-not-malevolent.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm, last accessed February 14, 2013
 See Susan Donaldson James (August 26, 2009), “Chappaquiddick: No Profile in Kennedy Courage,” ABC News, http://www.abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=8212665, last accessed February 14, 2013.
 See Jonathan Weisman (January 14, 2009), “Geithner’s Tax History Muddles Confirmation,” The Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123187503629378119.html, last accessed February 14, 2013.
 See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXpyJZkDCuE, last accessed February 14, 2013.