Beto Takes a Beating
It was a terrible, horrible, no good very bad weekend for hopeful Robert Francis Domnall Blathmac Tigernmas "Beta" O'Rourke, as the knives came out for the young Democratic presidential hopeful -- from the Left.
Or was it?
A big hit came from Reuters, which sat for two years on reports that O'Rourke had been part of a notorious hacker group in his youth. Daily Wire's Ryan Saavedra reported that Reuters waited until the late Friday news dump to admit "that their reporter who broke the story about Democrat Beto O’Rourke belonging to a hacker group had the story for two years and agreed to sit on it until after O’Rourke’s Senate race against Sen. Ted Cruz." It was one thing, I suppose, when O'Rourke was up against a white male Republican. Now that he's challenging Intersectional Democratic People of Oppressed Stuff, it's different.
CNN devoted three reporters to Sunday's story headlined, "Big promises, apologies and unanswered questions" about the failed Senate candidate currently campaigning in parts of the Midwest. Eric Bradner, Leyla Santiago and Donald Judd got a shiv between the ribs with this line: "His ability to maintain a grueling travel schedule is aided by his loss in the Texas Senate race last year: O'Rourke can stay on the campaign trail while other candidates who are currently in office have to return to Washington or their home states." If Beto is doing so well now, you see, it's only because he was such a big, fat loser in November. The heavy-handed implication is that better candidates are too busy with the real business of running the country to campaign very hard just yet. "What's not yet clear is how his campaign is being received nationally," was another line written by three CNN reporters who don't seem to watch CNN.
But let's stick a pin in that point; we'll get back to it shortly.
The Washington Post's only closeted progressive, Jen Rubin, asked if O'Rourke is a "Savior or Slacker" in a column accusing him of seeming "clueless if not self-absorbed." "Positive populist" Steve Hilton wrote this morning that O'Rourke is "a real danger to America and must not be allowed near the White House." Tell us how you really feel, Steve.
I was especially fond of this headline: "Beto O'Rourke Is the Candidate For Vapid Morons." That's from a disillusioned and bitter-sounding former Obama supporter named Shane Ryan. He doesn't seem to like the flavor of the Kool-Aid this time around, but only because Beto's brand doesn't taste nearly radical enough.
The AP was kind enough to gather all the Dem criticism of the latest Dem darling in a report headlined, "Other 2020 Dems begin sharpening criticism of Beto O'Rourke"
Here's a sample:
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar drew the sharpest such contrast on Sunday, saying "I wasn't born to run. But I am running" while acknowledging, "Oh, that's the Beto line."
"No, I wasn't born to run for office, just because growing up in the '70s, in the middle of the country, I don't think many people thought a girl could be president," Klobuchar said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Asked about the same O'Rourke quote, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, was gentler, saying "I think I was born to make myself useful."
"I'm not combating anybody," he told "Fox News Sunday." ''They are going to be competitors more than opponents, I think, among the Democrats."
Still, other Democrats have taken more veiled swipes.
Yes, the knives are out -- including some you can't even see.
Yesterday morning, FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver tweeted, "Beto’s such a weird candidate, and the press coverage of him is also so weird (obsessive but currently quite cynical but also prone to big mood swings) that I think it’s probably best to stick to objective benchmarks (e.g. polls, fundraising) when analyzing his chances."
Presumably Silver wrote that before CNN published a story that apparently went unseen by those three CNN sleuths from earlier in this column:
Boom. Overnight, Beto became the Six Million Dollar Man. Steve Austin required months of surgery and recovery to earn that title.
CNN's Alex Seitz-Wald went on to say (admit?), "That's a strong showing for the former Texas congressman who lost a Senate race last year to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, while setting a new fundraising record." But how do things look for the other big-name Ds? Not so shiny:
Sen. Kamala Harris collected $1.5 million, which was seen as impressive haul for the California Democratic lawmaker. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., raised $1 million in 48 hours, as did former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. It took Jay Inslee 72 hours to raise more than $1 million, but that still surpassed expectations for the Washington governor.
So do you want to know why the long knives are out? It's because a new Democratic superstar was born on Sunday, and they all saw it coming. O'Rourke got the name recognition he needed last summer and fall, thanks to his quixotic-yet-overhyped campaign against Ted Cruz. And now the "Kennedyesque" former congressman has the war chest to go with it.
Now you might be thinking that a young candidate of no particular achievements and difficult-to-discern hopey-changey policies could never win the Democratic nomination... but history does have a way of repeating itself.
This time, one can hope, as farce.