Today’s Campaign Update
(Because The Campaign Never Ends)
Some free advice for Beto O’Rourke. – I suppose that I should preface this long piece by reminding readers that I have no love for Irish Bob O’Rourke. In fact, what I really hold for him more than anything else is contempt. The substance-devoid empty suit from El Paso finds himself today in a predicament of his own making, a situation in which his once-promising presidential campaign is mired in weak also-ran status in a crowded field that is occupied by more capable and more-clever candidates.
Irish Bob’s situation is compounded by the reality that the elite, northeastern fake news media establishment that literally put the presidential bug in his ear by fawning all over him for the last six months of 2018 has now turned on him because he waited too long to bend the knee and consummate its courtship of him. Since he finally announced his candidacy in March – the fickle nature of the fake media demanded he do so in December, January at the outside – he has been treated as a stepchild, hit by a series of negative stories and given the back of the hand by elitist media outlets angry that he hasn’t shown up on their doorsteps with a bouquet of roses in-hand and tickets to that night’s Knicks game for them.
A friend pointed me to a really good May 15 piece posted by Vanity Fair titled “How the Media Fell Out of Love with Beto O’Rourke,” which interestingly sounds like a title we would use here at the Campaign Update. We’ve certainly come close to it in the past, and written on the same basic theme, albeit in a more sarcastic way.
The Vanity Fair piece is written from an obviously more friendly perspective towards O’Rourke, but chronicles the same basic story we’ve chronicled here. It is very long, but a really good read and I encourage everyone to read it in full.
Here are some outtakes I want to emphasize this morning:
Since announcing his campaign for president in mid-March, just two months ago, O’Rourke has gone from the media darling who almost beat Ted Cruz in Texas to the designated punching bag of the pundit class. Harry Siegel of the Daily Beast called Beto a “manchild” on Twitter, while sharing a lacerating piece from the columnist Margaret Carlson, who wrote about “her unscientific poll asking every woman I see” and the conclusion that O’Rourke, the married father of three who enjoys making Sunday morning pancakes for his family, reminds them of “the worst boyfriend they ever had.”
The press commentary swirling around O’Rourke has been like this for months—mockery first, re-tweets second, sober analysis third.
“A presidential campaign is several universes away from a statewide campaign,” said Republican strategist Kevin Madden, a former adviser on both of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns. “It’s 10 times harder. The scrutiny is just so much greater. Your worst day on Capitol Hill or in the statehouse or on a Senate campaign is three times worse every day on a presidential campaign…You can’t escape the media. You have to have a plan to deal with them.”
O’Rourke is trying to repair the damage this week, stopping by New York greenrooms that’s he’s so far been shunning, making appearances on The Rachel Maddow Show and The View. And as he did during his Senate run, he’s also booked an appearance at a CNN town hall, a format that’s proven to be a ratings and fund-raising bonanza for candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg.
So, those capture the basic theme, which is: 1) The media fell in love with “Beto” last year and made him as a senatorial candidate; 2) Beto tried to mostly ignore them early in his presidential campaign, taking it right to the grassroots instead; 3) The fickle media elitists turned on him in a typically vicious manner; and 4) Beto is now dutifully making the rounds on bended knee.
But it’s probably all too late, if the goal is to have the media elitists go back to loving their former flame. The damage has been done, and it’s hard to rekindle the kind of media love Irish Bob received in 2018. Besides, in 2018 he was running against one of the most media-hated Republican in the nation; now, he’s running against a pack of beloved fellow Democrats. Making the rounds and passing out Knicks tickets probably isn’t gonna undo this damage.
To me, the key for a possible O’Rourke comeback lies in one passage a little over halfway through the piece:
“I guess I still haven’t heard the Ted Kennedy answer from him,” said former South Carolina legislator Boyd Brown, an early O’Rourke supporter in the primary state. Brown was invoking Kennedy’s devastating failure to answer CBS anchor Roger Mudd’s question “Why do you want to be president?” days before his 1980 campaign launch. Still, Brown, who is 32, told me that O’Rourke “personifies” and “embodies” the “views of my generation,” pointing to his climate-change plan as the most ambitious of any Democrat running. But he also bristled at the national press for harping on O’Rourke’s personality and missteps. “Who the hell wants to go on TV and get talked over and lectured by a bunch of D.C. and New York types? I’m old enough to remember when friends of mine in the journalism profession would go out of their way not to show bias. Now it feels like they have cheapened the overall profession because they want a lot of likes and re-tweets on Twitter. Reporters want to be woke on Twitter and get their 15 minutes of fame. It’s devalued journalism.”
You hear that, Irish Bob? Your natural base voters don’t really have any more use for the Margaret Carlsons of the world than I do. They have different reasons for that dislike, but it is there and it is simmering just below the surface, waiting for you or some other candidate in the race to tap into it.
Here’s the thing: O’Rourke is sitting there at 3-5% in the polls, mired in the middle of a field crowded with politicians who are just as craven and ambitious as he is. It is in that millieu that he must find a way to differentiate himself, to stand out in that crowd.
Is he going to get that done by dutifully doing the same lame appearances on all the daytime and late night talk shows and CNN townhalls that everyone else is doing? Is he going to do that by announcing a “Climate Change” plan that wastes one or two trillion dollars more than these 7 rivals, but one or two trillion less than those other 10 to 12 rivals?
The answer is obvious. That’s just spinning your skateboard wheels, waving your arms and failing.
But ask yourself this: Which Democrat candidate right now is loudly criticizing any media outlet other than the standard Democrat bogeyman, Fox News?
There’s your opportunity to stand out. Get out there and talk about how you’re a Texan from Flyover Country, from the heart of our nation, fighting against the elite northeastern media. Talk about how these snarky fake journalists are devaluing their profession in their never-ending grasp for more re-tweets and followers. Talk about how you are suddenly the outsider in this race, fighting for the interests of the little guy against the elite media and your party’s establishment, which want to tilt the playing field in favor of Party regulars like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, elitists favoring fellow elitists.
In other words, Irish Bob, if you really want to stand out among this crowd of pandering, groveling, hack politicians, you need to start sounding a lot like…wait for it…Donald J. Trump, circa 2015.
Mr. Brown has given you some really sound advice in that Vanity Fair piece, and Mr. Trump has already shown you the way. It may or may not work, but it’s really the only chance you have remaining at this point.
Are you smart enough to take that chance?
That is all.
Follow me on Twitter at @GDBlackmon
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