More Bad News for Beto

Beto O'Rourke (D., Texas)
May 10, 2019

Beto O'Rourke is having a bad week. He's fading in the polls, and is approaching "statistically insignificant" territory in the most recent survey of New Hampshire primary voters. His stump speech was panned by an 8th grade civics class in Iowa. THE POLITICO reported on his struggles to "organize a viable campaign."

When O'Rourke announced his candidacy in March, the former congressman and failed Senate candidate was lauded as a formidable candidate, perhaps even a solid bet to win the nomination. A lot has changed since then. Beto's appeal as the "White Obama" has found little purchase amid the rise of "Gay Obama," in the form of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, whose surging poll numbers might have Beto "regretting that he's straight," in the words of former Congressman Barney Frank (D., Mass.).

The brutal headlines keep piling up for Beto, who at this point might also regret abandoning his career as a middling blogger trying to "find himself" in the American countryside.

SALEM, N.H.--Beto O’Rourke’s best days as a presidential candidate are already behind him. That could change, maybe soon. Ups and downs are typical in a campaign.

But for the El Paso Democrat who captured the imagination of party activists across the land last fall, when he came within a nicely coiffed hair of ousting Sen. Ted Cruz, it’s been only down since he jumped onto his first coffee shop countertop in Iowa.

Seven weeks later, he’s sunk to 3% support, far below his peak, when memories of his near miss against Cruz were fresh. He’s held more town halls and taken more questions from voters than any rival, including those who’ve been stumping a year longer, and his poll numbers sink and sink.

Ouch. It would seem the "White Obama" is turning out to be more like a "White Rubio." Speaking of white, one relatively positive development for Beto is that he appears to have successful weathered some of the early criticisms of his candidacy—that his decision to run for president, despite lacking an adequate resume or any notable achievements, was a problematic embodiment of "white male privilege."

Oh, wait. Never mind. THE POLITICO is all over it with a cover story on "Beto's long history of failing upward."

This paragraph, in particular, is a doozy:

There’s a reason his biography doesn’t feature much in the campaign. For O’Rourke, the phenomenon on display in that race—failure without negative effects, and with perhaps even some kind of personal boost—is a feature of his life and career. That biography is marked as much by meandering, missteps and moments of melancholic searching as by résumé-boosting victories and honors. A graduate of an eastern prep school and an Ivy League rower and English major, the only son of a gregarious attorney and glad-handing pol and the proprietor of an upscale furniture store, the beneficiary of his family’s expansive social, business and political contacts, O’Rourke has ambled past a pair of arrests, designed websites for El Paso’s who’s who, launched short-lived publishing projects, self-term-limited his largely unremarkable tenure on Capitol Hill, shunned the advice of pollsters and consultants and penned overwrought, solipsistic Medium missives, enjoying the latitude afforded by the cushion of an upper-middle-class upbringing that is only amplified by his marriage to the daughter of one of the region’s richest men.

Despite his privileged upbringing and upward-failing path to success, Beto has not exactly demonstrated a willingness to share his unearned prosperity with the less fortunate. The candidate and his heiress wife donated less than 1 percent of their income to charity over the last decade.