The Corner

Elections

Where Was All of This Skepticism about Beto Last Year?

Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke reacts during a kickoff rally in El Paso, Texas, March 30, 2019. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Over at the Daily Beast, Margaret Carlson doesn’t think it’s too early to administer last rites to the Beto O’Rourke presidential campaign, and offers a blistering assessment of O’Rourke as a fundamentally unserious candidate:

According to my unscientific poll asking every woman I see, Beto reminds them of the worst boyfriend they ever had: self-involved, convinced of his own charm, chronically late if he shows up at all, worth a meal or two but definitely not marriage material. When he should be home with the kids or taking out the trash, he’s jamming with his garage band or skateboarding at Whataburger. He’s “in and out of a funk” which requires long and meaningful runs to clear his head. Every thought he has is transcendent, worthy of being narrated, videotaped, and blogged. He is always out finding himself. At age 46, the man asking to run the country is currently lost.

The column is scathing, but some of us will wonder . . . where the heck was all of this scrutiny and skepticism of O’Rourke last year? He’s the same guy he was in 2018!

As far as I can tell, Carlson never wrote about O’Rourke last year. But last year, various writers at the Daily Beast labeled him a “liberal hero . . . with a penchant for going viral,” that he’s  “break[ing] down the walls between candidate and constituents,”that his “fundraising operation is still proving to be a remarkable success, one that some of the top digital operatives in the Democratic Party believe could be foundational for future campaigns,” that his “supporters tout his quite liberal policy positions only after gushing about him as a person,” and they even declared that his dental visit “livestream was admirable in principle.”

Just once, I’d like to see some major mainstream journalism institution look at its past coverage and say something like . . .

Since the 2018 Texas Senate race ended, we’ve gotten to know Beto O’Rourke better and put simply, we chose to see what we wanted to see that year. He was glib, and we convinced ourselves it was charisma. He looked young, and we told ourselves he was the voice of a new generation. We found his skateboarding and guitar-playing cool when it was kind of silly and juvenile, and we persuaded ourselves that he was an accomplished leader when we now see he was a bumbling slacker who had married up and had his political ambitions carried along by his father-in-law’s wealth and connections. We hate Ted Cruz with the passion of a thousand suns going supernova, and because of that, we talked ourselves into believing that this guy was Lone Star Jesus. We recognize that we have a worsening problem with wish-casting and have checked into a twelve-step program.

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