As The Resurgent‘s Erick Erickson said, “Avocado toast.”
His candidacy held so much promise before he made it official. Even though he lost his last election, he received over a million more votes than the last Democrat to take on Senator Ted Cruz in the red state of Texas. He raised more money for his campaign than any Senate candidate in history; it wasn’t even close. He had star power unlike anything we’d seen from a Democrat since President Obama and the nationwide backers to vouch for his appeal.
Now, he’s having trouble getting above the middle of an extremely crowded pack in the polls, and he’s unofficially blaming the “privileged” way he launched his campaign for his current woes.
In a twist (one I would call an “odd twist” if 2019 hadn’t proven that nothing in politics is odd anymore), it was part of his privileged launch, a Vanity Fair cover, that is now being called out as one of the reasons he’s failing so badly.
Who’s calling it out? Vanity Fair, among others.
It was O’Rourke’s Tuesday appearance on The View that cut right to the biggest misstep of his early campaign, a frenetic rollout that began with a cover story in this magazine featuring his now-infamous quote, “I’m just born to be in it.” O’Rourke apologized for the quote and the decision to be profiled by Vanity Fair after being tracked down by writer Joe Hagan, who’d already assembled a rich biographical story. “I think it reinforces that perception of privilege,” he told the hosts. “And that headline that said ‘I was born to be in this,’ in the article I was attempting to say that I felt that my calling was in public service. No one is born to be president of the United States of America.” Though it’s hard to imagine any presidential candidate who doesn’t harbor some version of this sentiment, that single quote read to many as an emblem of white male privilege in a Democratic primary that was already pulsing with identity politics.
One of our writers highlighted why the unofficial relaunch of his campaign, Beto 2.0, is going to fail. He noted how last month less than three dozen people attended his rally at UNLV, but that wasn’t even the worst thing happening to him recently. The biggest challenge he’s facing today is that he rarely offers concrete policy proposals and when he actually does, they’re awful. For example, his $5 trillion climate change plan was smack dab in the middle, not nearly as aggressive as the massive Green New Deal but far too large for most moderates to embrace. It’s a plan without passion or vision; too small to appeal to environmentalists, too big to dismiss by the rest of us.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t impressed.
The buzz around Beto O’Rourke has died down. His weak policies aren’t saving him. His lack of intersectionality is working against him as a Democrat. But there’s a punk rock revival band out there with his name on it, so not all is lost.