"Uh-oh," said Wolf Blitzer, as politicos gasped.
For the Tweet-world, the essence of President Obama's State of the Union address Feb. 12 was not about anything the President said, but that crime against humanity committed by Marco Rubio of which we will speak in a moment.
Senator Rubio departed from the script. That's simply not done. It's like inviting Daisy to dine beside the Dowager at Downton Abbey's carefully laid table.
Speaking of unscripted moments at lofty tables brings to mind Dr. Ben Carson's "uh-oh" speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington ten days before. He blasted political correctness in front of the nation's sternest protectors of the socio-cultural script. Dr. Carson spoke of his earliest violations of the script written by some in his own black culture who made him "the butt of all jokes" for daring to rise out of poverty, and stay in school.
Then, with President Obama sitting at his side, and leaders of Congress and the Courts arrayed before him, Dr. Carson slammed current deficit policies, took an unscripted view of federal Title I educational programs, and even had the temerity to say Jesus is his model.
Dr. Carson was a Daniel staring down the Chaldeans.
Then there was Lady Gaga, she who's every seemingly chaotic twist is plotted as carefully as Fred Astaire's two-step, but who took an injurious stumble February 11 in Montreal. The entertainment buzzers were aghast at Gaga. She had departed from the script that seems to specify even how she is to walk through the back corridors of concert halls, airports, and other zones where inconveniently she must carry herself since Captain Kirk's transporter machine hasn't yet been invented.
It's odd how a culture so relishing its anarchy is so bound to the script.
That brings us back to Marco Rubio. Eleven minutes into his Republican rebuttal of Obama's speech, the Senator, daring to sweat on-camera, suddenly reached over for bottled water, and took a swig.
In front of CNN's Wolf Blitzer and everybody.
It was, as CBS news put it, "Marco Rubio's 'water bottle-gate' moment."
But the great crime against humanity, or contemporary culture at least, was in its sheer spontaneity. There can be no greater evil perpetrated in a society where everyone has a carefully crafted script written by establishment elites.
That's why Wolf Blitzer said "uh-oh," and news purveyors spent so much time gasping over Gaga, who was distressed that she busted the script. Not so Rubio, who tweeted the picture of the now-famous water bottle. In fact, the big difference between Lady Gaga's unscripted moment and those of Rubio and Carson was that the queen of non-conformity noted she had to hide chronic pain from her staff while Rubio and Carson see no reason to conceal their "uh-oh" moments.
If Rubio's handlers come equipped with a brain they might use that bottle in his campaign ads.
According to the contemporary script, politicians and mega-celebrities are not supposed to clear their throats, misspeak, perspire before the lens, or fall down in public – unless stoned or drunk, which is excusable, even applauded. As a 29-year-old White House aide I was stunned and deflated one day while standing just outside the Oval Office, and saw through a slightly ajar door the President of the United States, standing behind his desk scratching his nose.
"Uh-oh," I said, foreshadowing Wolf Blitzer.
Western culture for all its libertine-loving and liberal-minded openness is rigidly deterministic, playing by the script. "Religious" types, according to the script, are to be locked away from public view, like the insane in 14th century Europe or the more recent Soviet Union, which almost proved that time-travel into the past is possible after all.
According to the script, as articulated by one of its noted authors, Vice President Joe Biden, there is both "legitimate media" and, well, the other kind. In a Philadelphia press confab on gun control Feb. 11, Biden told reporters that the Administration is "counting on all of you, the legitimate news media, to cover these discussions because the truth is that times have changed."
Indeed they have, and the script-writers are in charge.
Jesus appeared in a highly scripted world 2,000 years ago. The religious establishment knew its lines and places onstage, and so did the political establishment. Jesus refused to live by the script. Among other things, it got Him crucified.
So, if you're an academic who thinks, writes, and teaches outside the script, you may not win tenure. Journalists who stretch beyond the script are not likely to bring home the Pulitzer, or be recruited as editor of Scientific American. If you're a script-breaking thought-leader you probably won't be invited to Stockholm to pick up the Nobel Prize.
But you will die with the boots of your integrity still on your feet, and they probably will have made a significant impact.
So here's to Marco Rubio and the sudden swig, Dr. Carson and straight-talk, and all the others in our time who dare to live beyond the establishment script.
And to Lady Gaga – don't feel the necessity to hide your injuries or your unscripted trip-ups. It reminds us of your humanity, and that between the weird hair and the stiletto high-heels is a scared young woman who is just like the rest of us.