Slate: "Beto 2020 Has No Reason to Exist"

Well, today, according to the Texas Tribune, former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke is going to announce that he's a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination for U.S. President in 2020. Slate's Josh Vorhees has penned what, in your humble blogger's opinion, is one of the best political campaign takedown pieces I've read in quite awhile. (And--you'll just have to take my word for it--I've read a lot of 'em!)

Beto 2020 Has No Reason to Exist
Of all the major candidates, he brings the least to the Democratic primary.

By Josh Voorhees
Slate
March 13, 2019 5:14 PM

Beto O’Rourke is finally ready to end the suspense. The former Texas congressman is expected to formally kick off his presidential campaign Thursday, one day after tipping his hand to a local TV station in Texas. “I’m really proud of what El Paso did and what El Paso represents,” O’Rourke told KTSM El Paso via text. “It’s a big part of why I’m running.” His apparent confirmation came on the heels of a new Vanity Fair cover story—complete with glossy photo shoot—in which he told the magazine that he wanted to run. “I want to be in it,” he said, after describing our current political moment as an existential fight. “Man, I’m just born to be in it, and want to do everything I humanly can for this country at this moment.”

O’Rourke would seem to have much of what he needs to mount a serious run for the Democratic nomination. He has political celebrity after his stronger-than-expected challenge to Sen. Ted Cruz in the midterms. He has a devoted base of fans and network of small donors that would make him instantly competitive. He is already better known and better liked than a number of national Democrats who have been running for weeks. And in preparation for his launch, he reportedly beefed up his already valuable email list, lined up potential campaign hires, and has planned a multiday swing through Iowa this weekend.

Beto is missing one important thing, though: an actual reason to run.

O’Rourke would enter the race as a man without a clear political ideology, a signature legislative achievement, a major policy issue, or a concrete agenda for the country. Those in the know tell the Atlantic that Beto is planning to run as a candidate “offering hope that America can be better than its current partisan and hate-filled politics, and that the country can come together,” but that—brace yourself—he hasn’t yet “landed on how he’ll propose to actually make that happen.” That’s more of the same empty words Beto’s been offering in public since his loss to Cruz. “I don’t know where I am on a [political] spectrum, and I almost could care less,” he said at a recent stop in Wisconsin. “I just want to get to better things for this country.”...
...
...You don’t need to be a policy wonk to be president, but O’Rourke’s allergy to specifics is worsened by his refusal to give voters any real clue of his guiding ideology. As he put it at his final congressional town hall last year, when asked whether he was a progressive: “I’m not big on labels. I don’t get all fired up about party or classifying or defining people based on a label or a group. I’m for everyone.” Labels like progressive and moderate have limited meaning—especially as White House hopefuls blur the lines between both—but they’re not devoid of meaning. If O’Rourke is not going to get specific, the least he can do is get general. Unless he does, he won’t add anything of value to the Democratic race other than platitudes, which are hardly in short supply.

There’s nothing special about O’Rourke’s dream to heal the partisan divide in this country when he can’t explain how he’ll do it. Because as exciting as his bid to take down Cruz was, it also showed the limits of bipartisanship for bipartisanship’s sake. Case in point: Last summer, Beto declared he was putting “country over party” when he declined to support the Democratic challenger to GOP Rep. Will Hurd, whom he had joined on a 2017 road trip from Texas to D.C. that doubled as a 1,600-mile ode to reaching across the aisle. Hurd went on to win re-election by less than 1,000 votes. Asked last weekend whether he’d back O’Rourke over Trump in a hypothetical 2020 general election, Hurd was clear: “My plan is to vote for the Republican nominee.”

Yeah, apparently, when all's said and done (you really have to read the entire article; the link's in the headline), Beto really is a vacuous, New Democrat(ic), big cup o' nuthin'. I'm sure he'll perform well in 2020.


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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@EdMass

but my hat's off to you nonetheless. Well done, sir!

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

@EdMass thanks a lot you rascal, I had to go looking and saw someone has a poll up:
Beto O'Rourke 2020 Presidential Candidate. With Poll

Bernie has 83% ha ha! and Beto has a 5% reason to exist. good luck

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@eyo
I just took a peek, and they've cratered to 81%.

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The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

Anja Geitz's picture

@UntimelyRippd

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

EdMass's picture

It is Robert Francis O'Rourke.

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Prof: Nancy! I’m going to Greece!
Nancy: And swim the English Channel?
Prof: No. No. To ancient Greece where burning Sapho stood beside the wine dark sea. Wa de do da! Nancy, I’ve invented a time machine!

Firesign Theater

Stop the War!

Strife Delivery's picture

I feel like I should do a diary on this but I'll keep it here.

This is once again a fusion of identity politics and narcissistic, sociopathic, empty-suit kabuki theater.

To start, he is a billionaire (married to a billionaire heiress), horrendously right-wing, narcissist "I was born to be in it", smooth-talking, platitude-filled, capitalist.

What is his appeal? He's a young, smooth-talking, white Obama.

And this is where identity politics kick in.

Because since O'Rourke is "young", that means that millennials and gen z will flock to him...because they are young too. A completely absurd and untenable grasp on reality but yet Democrats believe this garbage.

Same thing with Harris, Klobuchar, Warren -- since they are women, that means that women and especially young women will go to them. Why? Because they are women.

Of course, this flies in the face of the giant case study known as the 2015 primary where young women avoided Clinton like the Black Death and millennials didn't flock to 50-something Martin O'Malley instead flocking to a grandpa.

But Beto is their best shot now that everyone else has launched and crashed. More meaningless platitudes, more hopium which in reality translates to more pain, suffering, and death.

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Deja's picture

@Strife Delivery
The establishment is so far removed from the actual demographic, they haven't the slightest clue.

You completely nailed it!

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Strife Delivery

without college degrees actually vote for Trump?

It didn't work with Hillary; why would it work for Kamala or Amy?

Well, actually, I can answer my own question: because they will control the outcome more meticulously this time. The Department of Homeland Security is on the job!

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7 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

Strife Delivery's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

Um... didn't a lot of women without college degrees actually vote for Trump?

It didn't work with Hillary; why would it work for Kamala or Amy?

Well, actually, I can answer my own question: because they will control the outcome more meticulously this time. The Department of Homeland Security is on the job!

Well on the first part, there are a plethora of excuses that the media and the Democrats gave:
1) Women are inherently and unconsciously misogynistic, they just can't get over their internalized patriarchy and support a woman.
2) Those were white women, which depending upon whom you talk to in Dem circles range from acceptable to bad.
3) Women were controlled by their husbands and had to vote for whom their husband voted for.
4) Russia made them hate Hillary.
5) Those women are bad and going to hell, at least according to Madeline Albright.

But yes, of course it didn't work, but that's the religion of identity politics. Even though they just had a giant case study not only in the 2015 primary but the 2016 election, they will adhere to it.

If there is a woman candidate, women must support her.
If there is a black candidate, black people must support said candidate.

Now, if say you're a black woman and are stuck between say Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, are you supposed to side with your race or your gender? Of course these dilemmas never really get parsed out in the theory of identity politics and they just brush it under the rug.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

@Strife Delivery

You did the work for me. Thanks.

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The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
– Albert Camus
snoopydawg's picture

Here's his plan for MFA

What's not to like? And Biden just said that we all need to just get along and whined about the flack he took for saying that Pence is a nice guy. Then he rambled on about our our unalienable rights and freedom and prosperity and lots of other bullshit. I'm thinking that the plan now is for the DNC to grab some cigars and go into their back room and decide that it's going to be Biden/Beta and deal with it.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

@snoopydawg Spare us the kabuki and just do it already.

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snoopydawg's picture

He voted with republicans so many times that Obama's anger finally showed up because there was a few things he did want to pass.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Unabashed Liberal's picture

@snoopydawg @snoopydawg

said exactly the same thing in a Debate with John McCain--he even used the expression about not being able to "kick the can down the road" any longer.

Somehow, it didn't seem to matter to the Dem Party Base*. (Most of whom appear to be clueless about policy, anyway.)

And, as if that wasn't bad enough, there was this, before 'O' was inaugurated:

'O' - WaPo Editorial Board - Grand Bargain_0.JPG

If you think about it, WJC ran on a bunch of right-wing issues, too--only difference, he was more open and direct about it (than 'O').

Sadly, if Beto can appeal on an emotional level to enough of the Dem Base, he may have a decent chance of getting the nomination. Especially, if 'O' throws his support behind him, sealing the AA vote, early, in the primary process.

No doubt, the large (corporatist) donors are probably already lining up to support him.

For certain, it would be a travesty if that were to happen--again.

*[Edit: referring to the part of the Base that mostly comprises conservadem blogging communities like DKos--not everyone who casts a vote for a Dem. Removed emoji.]

Blue Onyx

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.
~~Gilda Radner, Comedienne

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
~~Cicero

The obstacle is the path.
~~Zen Proverb

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

Amanda Matthews's picture

the minute you start looking into him it’s obvious that he’s not at all what he’s pretending to be, a left leaning progressive. I liked him. For about a week. Then the lights came on.

In order to maintain control, the Dims are going to HAVE to nominate a fake without a conscience like the Empty Suit (and we have plenty of those to spare.) The Clinton Creature is still their ‘ideal’ candidate but Beto will do nicely.

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I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

snoopydawg's picture

@Amanda Matthews

Listen to him on some of the tweets here and elsewhere. He doesn't say anything about anything and no one knows what he is running on. This is why we will have Biden and Beta.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

snoopydawg's picture

@Amanda Matthews

Is Beto O'Rourke the next Obama?
The Beto version?

I notice he’s not proposing higher taxes on the rich. I’m ok with that even though I strongly favor such taxes. Two reasons:

1) It comes down to what can pass the Senate,

2) Our crippled IRS is incapable of collecting taxes, and it will take several years before agents have the training and experience to take on rich tax cheats.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Amanda Matthews's picture

@snoopydawg
to see what he’s said and done in the past, it’s easy to see that he’s just another huckster working the political circuit. He’s like a flim flam man working the traveling carnival circuit.

Which is what the American political system has turned into. Without the fun and the cotton candy.

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I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

Unabashed Liberal's picture

Beto's Dog Photo.JPG

furbaby.

Yep, Beto's got my vote, now!

Biggrin

/s

Blue Onyx

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.
~~Gilda Radner, Comedienne

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
~~Cicero

The obstacle is the path.
~~Zen Proverb

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

TheOtherMaven's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

Unabashed Liberal's picture

@TheOtherMaven

shaping up, I might just do it! Smile

If that happens, suppose I'll have to consider voting for ol' Liz Warren's Golden Retriever, Bailey.

Warren's Golden 'Bailey'.JPG

(Bailey was our Mr B's name, and, now, we have a Golden Pup.)

Have a good one!

PleasantryBlue Onyx

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.
~~Gilda Radner, Comedienne

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
~~Cicero

The obstacle is the path.
~~Zen Proverb

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5 users have voted.

Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

Bollox Ref's picture

@Unabashed Liberal
he looks as though he could have been the 5th Monkee.... the really talentless one they cut before going into production.

Still, I imagine he's very serene, with a teevee in every room... playing betamax tapes over and over again.

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Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

Unabashed Liberal's picture

@Bollox Ref

to his dog--but, that's a good line about the 5th Monkee!

BiggrinBlue Onyx

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.
~~Gilda Radner, Comedienne

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
~~Cicero

The obstacle is the path.
~~Zen Proverb

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5 users have voted.

Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

@Unabashed Liberal John Kerry in some of these pix. That long chin and the eyes. This is not necessarily a flattering comparison. But for the MSM, he's the reincarnation of RFK. Only in the smile, imo.

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

@wokkamile

seen you around 'till very recently. So, welcome. It's very good to meet you!

PleasantryMollie

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.
~~Gilda Radner, Comedienne

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
~~Cicero

The obstacle is the path.
~~Zen Proverb

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6 users have voted.

Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

Not Henry Kissinger's picture

Hey, at least he has a platform.

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Peace Sells

Beto sends like Howard Shultz with charisma and fewer principles: a Texan Obama, oh boy!

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snoopydawg's picture

I told my friend that I didn't understand that show because all they did was sit in an unnamed restaurant and talked about nothing. Then I learned that was exactly what the show was about.

Beta says a lot of things about things he wants to do, but he offers no way of doing them. I'm going to make America a happy place to live again and we will all have nice things and the sun will shine on us night and day and "..."....... but not say how he's going to do it.

Beta Seinfeld.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

@snoopydawg

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"Freedom is something that dies unless it's used." --Hunter S. Thompson

After doing a bit of research I think he ought to go as Zero O'Rourke.

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Mark from Queens's picture

Shane Ryan writes:

But 11 years later, having witnessed the failure of Obama, having watched how Republicans obstructed him and then fell in line totally with Donald Trump—in short, having borne witness to the utter failure of the pragmatic centrism espoused by Obama, and the total, unyielding corruption of the Republican party—I feel nothing, upon reading that Beto O'Rourke quote, but the deepest sense of revulsion and dread. Compromise?! Anyone who has paid even marginal attention to American politics since 2008 knows that compromise is a dangerous illusion; it's another term for giving Republicans special concessions and getting nothing in return.

I have no special foresight, but it doesn't take a crystal ball to see that an O'Rourke presidency would be a sad retread at a time when we can't afford to lose a day, much less four years. The future, if it includes Beto in the oval office, will follow the same path, and the path is grim.

And anyone on the nominal left who believes otherwise—this is too important to mince words—is an idiot...

What has Beto actually done that people might like? Well, he gave a nice speech about Colin Kaepernick that a lot of people wanted to cast as bold, but was actually so bold that Nike employed the same tactic a few months later. He did some air drumming at a fast-food drive-thru. He skateboarded. He was in a punk band. He has lots of energy, he's young-ish, he's tall, he's good-looking.

Again, all aesthetics. His appeal is the appeal of the surface, of the pathetic yearning to feel good without fixing anything....

On a policy level, he’s one of the most conservative Democrats in the field. He doesn’t concretely support Medicare for All, except in some “it would be great, eventually!” sense. He voted against free public college. He makes vague noises about liking the Green New Deal without signing on. He gets money from oil and gas executives, and thus he won’t take a hard position against fossil fuels. He folded on the Israel Iron Dome question under the slightest pressure, he voted to let Obama negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which cost him the AFL-CIO endorsement in his race against Cruz), and the sheer amount of awful Republican bills he’s supported is enough to fill an entire article...

He’s good enough at what he does that he’s going to make other people believe that, too—the most gullible, the most naive, the most vapid. Let’s return to a key word: The premise of his campaign is the premise of transcendence. He’s the comic book hero that many liberals have been waiting for, the man who will return us to the golden days of Obama and erase the nightmare that was Trump. He’s the savior, and because he’s the savior, he only asks for our most superficial support. He doesn’t need a grassroots movement that extends beyond the ballot box, he doesn’t need a political revolution at his back, and he doesn’t need to be anything more than a viral superstar who captures our hearts for the duration of the campaign season.

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t even try to understand the failures that brought us Donald Trump, or who doesn’t even try to see the failures of the Obama presidency, or who doesn’t like to look too deeply at the systemic injustices of late-stage capitalism underlying the modern American experience, Beto O’Rourke provides a great deal of comfort. You can close your eyes, project whatever you want onto the blank slate he presents, and hope for the best.

You can ignore the fact that transcendence and compromise are ugly myths that perpetuate inequality, and that when the concept of transcendence meets the reality of hard-nosed Republican opposition, it immediately decays into craven compromise that drags us further and further to the right. You can ignore the fact that Beto has already demonstrated this Obama-esque tendency to capitulate even while operating in the safest possible blue district. And you can ignore, above all, the obvious, unsettling conclusion: If we elect this man, we are screwed.

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"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

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