I have the same reaction as Ramesh to the mystifying adulation that Beto O’Rourke is receiving. After a few too many post-election articles touting the Texas Democrat as a rising star and a trailblazer and the face of the party’s future, I thought: “Wait a minute, didn’t he lose to Ted Cruz?” A minor detail, I know, but it just might be important.
Here’s what all this reminds me of: Beto, like myself, is a graduate of Columbia University. Columbia has a football team, and its record since the Kennedy administration can best be described as repeated failure punctuated by the occasional dizzying ascent to mediocrity. Fans of the team are divided into three groups. Some root for the Lions ironically, savoring each rare victory while considering the numerous losses to be performance art; some care passionately and live a Promethean existence, getting their liver eaten out anew with each fresh disappointment; and some have a “hope springs eternal” outlook, seizing on every tiny glimmer of hope (“they’ve beaten the spread every game but two so far”) and excusing away each unfortunate development (“they’ve had lots of injuries, and the weather cut down on the passing game, and they never gave up . . .”).
Anyway, when it comes to Beto’s political future, most liberal pundits fall into the last group: Hey, he only lost by three points. Beto in 2020! To which I can only reply: Keep thinking like that, Democrats, and I’m sure you’ll be just as successful as Columbia’s football team has been.