Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
Once upon a time, Robert Francis O’Rourke was golden. Vanity Fair posed him in front of a barren landscape, declaring, “Man, I’m just born to be in it.” He put his dental visit on Instagram and made a video diary driving in a van while trying to figure out what he wanted to do. He stood on a table.
And then it was all gone.
The donors who poured $6.1 million into his war chest on his first day, are disappointed. After spending $8 million on Facebook ads when running against Ted Cruz, he bought just $105,000 of ads in 30 days.
Reportedly, the man who goes by Beto, the millionaire with the golden waving arm and the silver spoon, is running out of money. He’s no longer posing for cover photos. Instead, he’s losing his mind.
After that wilderness cover photo, the candidate with no reason to run is in a metaphorical wilderness
At an Iowa town hall, he compared President Trump to the "Third Reich" and then vowed not to respond with "personal attacks", and "pettiness and meanness" to Republicans.
A few days earlier, Bobby/Beto had told CNN that he opposed locking up illegal alien migrants, except those "with criminal backgrounds representing a danger to our communities".
In South Carolina, he endorsed racial reparations and claimed that white people didn’t really know about slavery while touting his proposal for a new Voting Rights Act which offers an open door for voter fraud, cracking down on Voter ID and banning states from removing names from voter rolls.
The pandering was typical of a last chance campaign currently betting on black voters in South Carolina.
It’s a strange strategy for a white hipster, but black people are a demographic that the top white candidates not named Biden have struggled to crack. Black people hate Buttigieg, the failed South Bend mayor who stole the momentum of the failed Texas Senate candidate, and they don’t hate Beto.
Beto’s proposals for $100 billion in federal procurement from minority and gender businesses, a public federal credit agency, and another $100 million for minority business development, are straight bribery.
He told a gathering of black leaders that they needed to be protected “from their country”. He bafflingly also insisted that, they needed, “protecting from a kindergarten classroom”.
Nobody knew what that meant. But nobody really knows what he means anymore. Or cares.
It’s obvious to Beto and everyone else that he won’t be president, a nominee or even the nominee’s second banana. If he’s lucky, he’ll be given 60 seconds at the convention to blow someone else’s horn.
There are too many candidates and the loser from Texas carries resentments and the stench of failure.
Like every other struggling candidate in the race, Beto is flailing. The airy privilege is gone. And you can see him sweating to jump on every radical position he can think of before the rest of the clown car.
The pandering is so sweaty, it’s transparent.
The New York Times, which exists because of a Lebanese Mexican billionaire, asked the 2020 candidates if they believe that anyone deserves to be a billionaire.
“I don’t know that anyone deserves to have a billion dollars," O'Rourke told the New York Times.
Then Beto mumbled something about the need to break down that concentration of wealth and power.
He might want to tell his father-in-law whose net worth is at $500 million.
O’Rourke, whose own net worth approaches $10 million, is one of the wealthier candidates in the race. He was also one of the few to reject the idea of a billionaire. Joining him was his nemesis.
“I’m not sure anybody cosmically or morally deserves to have a billion dollars, but I don’t hold it against them," Pete Buttigieg answered.
It was almost the same exact words that O’Rourke had used, but with enough elaboration and hedging to seem smarter. And that’s why Buttigieg has been eating O’Rourke’s lunch and picking up his donors.
Both Buttigieg and Beto are ridiculously unqualified for the job they want. Buttigieg runs a failing city in Indiana. Beto lost a Senate election. Both are the sorts of privileged Ivy League brats who wear $200 blue collar shirts to identify with the working class and get all their ideas from listening to TED talks.
Their cliched rhetoric is almost identical because they come from the same hipster hive mind.
But Buttigieg beat Beto and took his image, his donors and his place because he understands that even when you’re touting your own indefinable mythology, you have to give people something to work with.
Beto jumped into the race, convinced that the less he told voters, the more they would like him. And for a brief shining moment in the dinner theater production of Camelot, it seemed as if he was right. A skinny white guy from Texas had mastered the Obama strategy of running as a personable mystery.
Robert Francis O’Rourke knew that his only shot was cultivating a mystique because he isn’t interesting.
And, some months later, despite his best efforts at becoming the next male model since Gerald Ford to win the White House, the mystique faded when Democrats realized that there wasn’t anything there.
Now, Beto is chasing the tattered shreds of his lost mystique by endorsing every radical cause.
At a CNN town hall in April, he urged the impeachment of President Trump. But while the applause comes in, it doesn’t actually translate into any progress. His numbers began cratering in April and they’ve been dipping ever since. In the clown car primary, calling for Trump’s head is no big deal.
Everyone’s doing it.
In June, he became one of the few candidates to take a direct shot at Joe Biden. Even though he claimed that Biden represented a return to the past, it was Beto who was trying to return to the recent past where he was a viable candidate, instead of frantically trying to figure out a way to get back ahead.
“We cannot return to the past,” he told MSNBC. He might have writing his own political epitaph.
The real humiliation came when he stopped by the Late Show to promote his presidential campaign only to be told by Stephen Colbert to drop out and run for the Senate. Again.
Beto claimed his campaign was “special”. “I want to be in the most consequential position,” he whined.
If Colbert were a comedian, instead of a leftist apparatchik, the jokes would have written themselves.
During his disastrous CNN spot with Jake Tapper, he tried to argue that the polls don’t matter. “If I were to rely on polls right now, it would be as though that was going to decide the future of not just our race, but the country. And we can’t allow that to happen,” he rambled desperately. “I’ve never relied on polls running for Congress, running that race in Texas for the United States Senate.”
That’s the race he lost.
Beto O’Rourke is running out of money, out of polls and out of his mind. His proposals and rhetoric have become more radical even as his candidacy continues to stumble to the back of the 2020 clown car.
Why is he still running?
In the words of his faded Vanity Fair cover, “I just want to be in it.”
His hands are sweaty. His carefully mussed hair is drooping. But like every other Democrat, he can’t escape the political singularity of the 2020 election until it drops him out the other end with nothing.
Not even his mind.