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
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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