President Obama was (what else?) presidential last night. Marco Rubio, not so much. You felt sorry for the guy, if not for the Republican Party as a whole. The only time he went left was to lunge for a bottle of water – it was almost painful to watch.
It was awkward and weird, but it was also genuine and obviously unplanned…
In that moment, there may be a measure of politically fueled schadenfreude for some, but for many more, it’s just, “Oh, oh no, oh no no, that was so uncomfortable, oh … no.” Maybe even a little, “Oh, honey.” Maybe even, “Bless your heart.”
There’s something refreshing about a moment that was so obviously not supposed to happen — it’s why blooper reels exist. It’s why debates are spent waiting for someone to say the wrong thing, even by people who don’t particularly care about the outcome. When things go awry — even in a tiny, tiny moment — the bottom drops out and the foreheads get clammy and all of a sudden, it’s interesting. It’s alive. It’s: We interrupt this impeccably produced presentation to bring you a little story we call “Humans: What Are You Gonna Do?”
In all honesty, the water gulp was just about the only part of that evening you couldn’t have known was going to happen 24 hours earlier. …[I]t was the major plot development (minor as it was) that felt like a collapse of the narrative, and the truth is, people like collapsed narratives. They feel, to use a nonword, real-er, truer, simpler, and more reflective of our experiences.
If you were a climate change denialist from Florida, you might be nervous too.