Falling in love can make you do all sorts of silly things. Sometimes it’s cute, like standing outside the window of your beloved holding aloft a boom box and playing her favorite song. Other times, it’s just plain stupid—like never questioning why your new boyfriend keeps his basement door locked at all times and won’t let you see what’s down there. Either way, you’re overcome with a kind of giddy euphoria that blinds you to the shortcomings in your object of affection, to the point where obvious character flaws become charming little quirks and suddenly the idea of the two of you against the world seems terribly romantic, rather than the real-life manifestation of Mary Sue fan fiction that it is.
Case in point: the media and Robert Francis “Blotto”—er, “Beto”—O’Rourke, who says he’d like to replace Ted Cruz in the Texas delegation to the United States Senate, but has a habit of taking extreme leftist positions that most Texans find rather alarming. The media, who have fawned over O’Rourke with a devotion akin to an 80’s-era Duran Duran fangirl slobbering over Simon Le Bon, see this as an epic romance on the scale of Gone With the Wind or Dr. Zhivago. The reality, however, is more like Gary and Wyatt trying to make the girl of their dreams out of spare sparts and an old computer in Weird Science. The end result looks pretty good, but it’s more fantasy than reality.
Jack Shafer riffs on this today in the Politico, getting to the heart of Betomania in an appropriately acerbic fashion:
The winds of swoonery blasted through Texas this year and traveled halfway across the country to dust the Eastern media establishment with love eternal for senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke. Not since the press corps fell in love with Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign has such a sirocco of worshipful candidate profiles and commentaries appeared in the national press.
Problem is, the polls aren’t blowing in O’Rourke’s direction, in spite of the media blowing in the direction of his nether regions. But never fear! There’s already speculation on how Beto Boy can indeed win for losing, with another presidential contest lurking just beyond the horizon:
In late August, Texas Monthly took O’Rourke swoonery to its highest altitudes when it started gaming out the political possibilities that await the candidate should he lose this contest in a piece titled “Will Beto O’Rourke Become President?” If O’Rourke loses to Cruz, he’ll be free to politick his way to the bottom half of the Democratic ticket in 2020, and if he’s lucky enough to lose that contest he’ll be perfectly positioned to wrestle the party away from the old and in-the-way Democrats—Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. “Such has been the El Paso congressman’s streak of good press and respectable polls of late that it’s beginning to look like even a loss in his Senate race might not diminish his political momentum,” the article concludes.
Ah, yes—failing up, the typical Democrat path to power. Can’t make it to the Senate, so might as well try the White House!
Alas, to those residing outside the liberal political bubble—in other words, people who aren’t crazy—this just sounds like a desperate media trying everything it can to make fetch happen. Truth is, Beto probably doesn’t even want to make it happen, because with his wacky leftist rhetoric calling for stuff typical Texans like about as much as they like New York barbecue, he sounds more like he’s auditioning for an MSNBC gig—which might go a long way toward explaining his poll numbers.
Ted Cruz, on the other hand, is a different kind of guy altogether. Shafer is a bit unkind regrading Cruz in his article—although with his sense of humor, Ted would probaby laugh at being compared to a Blue Meanie—but implicit in his remarks is that Cruz really is his own man, and isn’t afraid to rub his colleagues in the Senate the wrong way for standing on principle. In other words, Cruz is the genuine article—not some media caricature who sees good press as an end unto itself. That’s quite a contrast to a phony like “Beto” O’Rourke, who even adopted his first name as a contrivance.
To my mind, we could use a lot more of the real thing in DC. I’m just glad that the voters of Texas seem to be thinking along the same lines.