The Corner


Life Is a Lot Harder When You’re Not Running against Ted Cruz

Former Democratic Texas Senate candidate Rep. Beto O’Rourke gestures at his midterm election night party in El Paso, Texas, November 6, 2018. (Adria Malcolm/REUTERS)

All of a sudden Beto O’Rourke, the candidate who was most beloved by the national press in 2018, is getting brutal coverage in 2019.

The Week declares the pranks he played on his wife are “downright disgusting,” Slate is mocking his standing on countertops, and MSNBC commentators groan that he’s exhibiting white-male privilege.

Over at the Bulwark, Tim Miller contends that some of O’Rourke’s biggest fans in the media have turned against him because he’s now an obstacle to their referred candidates — Bernie Sanders, primarily — and if he gains traction with a soft-focus “Hope and Change 2.0” approach, then the rest of the Democratic party will back away from the “It’s time for a socialist revolution” tone they’ve embraced in recent months. Why embrace controversial proposals like reparations, abolishing private health insurance and specific Green New Deal legislation when you can just offer happy talk about brighter tomorrows and the American spirit?

(O’Rourke’s split-the-baby approach to the AR-15 is to ban the sale of new rifles, but allow current owners to keep the ones they have. Apparently, it’s safe enough for everyone to keep, but simultaneously so dangerous that no one should be allowed to buy another one.)

I think there’s another factor, though. In retrospect, the O’Rourke-mania of 2018 was a misallocation of resources. Sure, O’Rourke was way better than the average Texas Democratic statewide candidate, but the only way he was going to beat Ted Cruz was if the incumbent Republican got lazy and took his victory for granted — and Cruz made clear early on that he wasn’t going to do that. (O’Rourke’s past significant victories on the El Paso City Council and in his Democratic House primary were driven in large part by him out-hustling a too-comfortable incumbent.)

Overestimating a favorite candidate’s odds of victory is a small mistake. But committing $80 million — and an unparalleled amount of national media attention — to a long-shot candidate is a much bigger mistake. But it gets even worse for Democrats. Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum, two of the progressive Left’s favorite candidates of 2018, fell just short of victory in Georgia and Florida. (Both candidates are now publicly contending that their election victories were stolen from them.) In hindsight, the $80 million donated to O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate campaign looks like a waste. How differently would those races have turned out if $20 million of O’Rourke’s bundle had been redistributed with $5 million each to say, Abrams, Gillum, Senator Bill Nelson, and Ohio gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray?

A significant number of progressive Democrats look at O’Rourke and see a guy who was given unprecedented resources and advantages, fell short, and wants another chance at it, this time with even more resources and for higher stakes. Is it any wonder they fear a repeat of 2018?

Most Popular


Men Literally Died for That Flag, You Idiots

The American flag’s place in our culture is beginning to look less unassailable. The symbol itself is under attack, as we’ve seen with Nike dumping a shoe design featuring an early American flag, Megan Rapinoe defending her national-anthem protests (she says she will never sing the song again), and ... Read More

The Plot against Kavanaugh

Justice on Trial, by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino (Regnery,  256 pp., $28.99) The nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was the political event of 2018, though not for the reasons anyone expected. All High Court confirmations these days are fraught with emotion and tumult ... Read More
Politics & Policy

He Just Can’t Help Himself

By Saturday, the long-simmering fight between Nancy Pelosi and her allies on one side and the “squad” associated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the other had risen to an angrier and more destructive level at the Netroots Nation conference. Representative Ayanna Pressley, an African-American Massachusetts ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Ilhan Omar Is Completely Assimilated

Beto O’Rourke, the losing Texas Senate candidate who bootstrapped his way into becoming a losing presidential candidate, had a message for refugees who had come to America: Your new country is a hellhole. The former congressman told a roundtable of refugees and immigrants in Nashville, Tenn., last week: ... Read More
White House

On Gratitude and Immigration

Like both Rich and David, I consider it flatly inappropriate for the president of the United States to be telling Americans -- rhetorically or otherwise -- to “go back where you came from.” In consequence, you will find no defense of the president from me, either. What Trump tweeted over the weekend was ... Read More

We All Wanted to Love the Women’s Soccer Team

For the first time in my life, I did not root for an American team. Whatever the sport, I have always rooted American. And if those who called in to my radio show were representative of my audience, many millions of Americans made the same sad choice. It takes a lot for people like me not to root for an ... Read More

The ‘Squad’ Gives a Gift to Donald Trump

On Sunday, Donald Trump gave the Democrats a gift -- comments that indicate he thinks native-born congresswomen he detests should “go back” to the countries of their ancestors. On Monday, the four congresswomen handed Trump a gift in return, managing to respond to the president’s insults in some of the most ... Read More