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SOTU fact check & Rubio’s ‘watergate’ moment [Video]

Photo courtesy of Washington Post

Pres. Obama’s State of the Union address last night was mostly mundane, except for this part:

“It has been two months since Newtown. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different. Overwhelming majorities of Americans – Americans who believe in the 2nd Amendment – have come together around commonsense reform – like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. …

Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress. … Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.

One of those we lost was a young girl named Hadiya Pendleton. She was 15 years old. … Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house.

Hadiya’s parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote.

Gabby Giffords deserves a vote.

The families of Newtown deserve a vote.

The families of Aurora deserve a vote.

The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they deserve a simple vote.”

As with all State of the Union speeches, the general consensus afterward is that the President “did some cherry-picking.”

According to the fact-checkers at Politico, Obama bent the truth when talking about troop withdrawals in Afghanistan (“he’s also the one responsible for sending over the troops he’s pulling out”), Obamacare’s effectiveness at cutting healthcare costs (“This is still, at best, an open question), the President’s calling for a $9 minimum wage (“it’s less than what Obama campaigned on four years ago”) and his openness about the drone program (“his administration has … resisted any role for judges in overseeing the executive branch’s claimed power to kill a U.S. citizen”).

Because we’re flooded with information by the 24-hour news media, State of the Union speeches have become largely predictable in their content. It seems as though Obama’s been giving speeches twice a week since winning reelection, so come showtime, we already know the ins and outs of his policies.

And then there was Rubio.

The reluctant savior of the Republican party, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was picked to deliver the GOP response to this year’s State of the Union, a moment that was supposed to be his Transfiguration.

Usually a strong speaker, Rubio began his rebuttal as dangerously debonair as ever. But then he began awkwardly wiping away the beads of sweat pooling at his temples and upper lip. Then came the stuttering and slurring of words. It reminded me of that scene in Total Recall (the original, of course) where Schwarzenegger’s disguise malfunctions and begins flipping out. (I even thought his head would come off, revealing a flustered Karl Rove underneath.)

Then, the gulp heard ’round the world.

As soon as Rubio awkwardly reached for a mini bottle of Poland Spring water off-camera, social media rejoiced in a frenzy. #watergate was born.

Here are some more Twitter gems from last night:

Rubio himself got into the action, tweeting a picture of the now-infamous water bottle — which soon had its own Twitter account:

Truthfully, I feel sorry for the man. I think all the pressure placed on him by his party — being the first Latino pegged as the “Great White Hope” — got to him in the end.

And while he finished the speech strong and made some valid points, we all know how unforgiving Latinos can be with one another. The white audience might shrug this one off, but if I know Latinos, we’ll be giggling about it every time we see his face.

About Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.

Hector Luis Alamo, Jr., is the associate editor at Being Latino and a native son of Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. He received a B.A. in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States. While at UIC, he worked first as a staff writer for the Chicago Flame and later became the newspaper's Opinions editor. He contributes to various Chicago-area publications, most notably, the RedEye and Gozamos. He's also a cultural critic for 'LLERO magazine. He has maintained a personal blog since 2007,, where he discusses topics ranging from political history and philosophy to culture and music.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. Yanira Garza says:

    The fact checkers at Politico took down that link. Were the facts wrong or just the link?

  2. Hector Luis Alamo, Jr. says:

    The link should be working now. I’m not sure what happened.

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