Friday, March 15, 2019



Early yesterday, Beto did what everyone knew he was going to do: jumped into the presidential race. There's an outstanding moment in the beginning of his announcement video that makes the case for why voters should pick Bernie: "This moment of peril produces, perhaps, the greatest moment of promise for this country and for everyone inside of it." If that "moment of promise" is, for you, based on a policy agenda, Bernie-- and perhaps, Elizabeth Warren are the candidates to get serious about. If that "moment of promise" is about some amorphous airy-fairy bullshit... there's State Quo Joe... or, I'm sorry to say, Beto.

Blue America backed Beto when he first ran in a primary against a corrupt conservative Democrat in El Paso and, of course, we backed him again against Ted Cruz, though with the open eyes of having seen him do not much of anything in Congress but build a fair middle-of-the-road voting record and no real record on courageousness or leadership. Basically, he was just there for 6 years, a promising young guy who joined the New Dems and didn't vote terribly well, but wasn't all that bad on most things. But... way better than Ted Cruz and packaged in a way that perhaps he could even beat Cruz. But he didn't and that's what he seems to be running on now: "I can beat Trump." I think he can too. I think they all can-- other than perhaps Gillibrand. Bernie, Biden, Kamala, Inslee, Liz Warren, Beto... they can all beat Trump. Because that's how horrible Americans now realize Trump is. A Quinnipiac poll of Florida voters, released yesterday, shows a majority have decided they will "definitely" not vote for Trump and a Navigator poll, also released yesterday, found that just 38% of voters believe Trump generally does what’s best for the country-- a new low and a 6-point decline from December-- while 62% now tend to say he puts himself first.

Vanity Fair's "it boy" cover story on Beto includes a quote that sums up his desire to run well: "I want to be in it. Man, I’m just born to be in it, and want to do everything I humanly can for this country at this moment." It's all about him. The run seems to be based mostly on opportunism and careerism-- not much on what he can offer America. Tom Suozzi is a Democratic Long Island congressman in a swing district who I was talking with a couple days ago about how to reach senior citizens with progressive ideas that have to be paid for now but might not pay immediate dividends. (He's a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal.) He quoted one of his political heroes, Robert Kennedy in a way that stuck with me and came back to me when I was thinking about Beto yesterday. Suozzi:

"People want to do the right thing for the country, for the world. We have to lay out the case and show them why it's the right thing so that they can embrace it with enthusiasm. Whenever people try and dissuade me about what’s possible and what’s not, I try and remember what it felt like to be a swashbuckling idealist before I got beaten up in some tough political battles. That inspires me to push forward. Bobby Kennedy put is this way 'This world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease.'"
That describes Bernie, not Biden and not, as far as I can tell, Beto. "At this moment of truth-- at this moment where we could make or break our democracy, where we will decide the fate of generations to come on this planet-- we must all ask what each of us can give to this country and to the people who will inherit the consequences of our choices," he wrote to his supporters yesterday. But he is basically saying 'trust me and I'll fix it,' without ever bothering with the details. That's where his meh record in Congress and his more questionable record on the El Paso City Council come into play. His campaign is very light on specifics... very, very light.

"Amy and I," he continued, "have decided that running to serve America as president is the best way for us to do our part, understanding that we have an historic opportunity to join with millions of our fellow Americans at a time like no other. The challenges we face are the greatest in living memory. The connected crises in our economy, our democracy and our climate will either consume us or they will afford us the opportunity to demonstrate our resolve, our creativity and our courage." Lots of inspiring words-- but no way of guessing-- other than by looking at a wanting record devoid of achievement or inspiration-- about any specific solutions to the problems he lays out. He never really embraced Medicare-for-All or the Green New Deal when he could have cosponsored them-- although he wanted progressives to think he would back them after he was elected. Courage of convictions? Not much. "The only way to live up to the promise of this country at this moment of maximum peril and maximum potential," he concludes, "is to give it our all and to give it for all of us. We are now, more than ever, the last best hope of Earth. Let’s show ourselves and those who succeed us in this great country what we are made of and what we can do."

Speechwriter did a good job-- so did the world's most superficial and predictable celebrity photographer:

UPDATE: Jonathan Chait Says It Well

In his New York Magazine piece on Beto's announcement, Chait asserts that Beto "faces two large drawbacks. The first is his thin résumé, consisting of a decent business career, three terms in Congress, and a fascinating but unsuccessful Senate run. The second is a rationale. His critics taunt that he is missing "an actual reason to run.'... The rationale is the tricky thing. O’Rourke’s actual reason for running is perfectly clear: He is a highly charismatic and inspirational campaigner... O’Rourke’s argument is that he’s sufficiently well-versed in policy to make good decisions-- which, again, may or may not be true, but which he’ll have the chance to demonstrate-- and that his skills as a communicator set him apart."

Chait and I part company there. He says being a talented politician-- a good communicator-- is a fine rationale for running. "It's a good reason," he concludes. I don't agree. It's what has brought us a parade of mediocre presidents without substance. We don't need another one at this moment.

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At 5:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's running because he's ambitious and vain. Of course and unfortunately, those are the 2 biggest reasons for anyone to run.

But he's a milquetoast corporate democrap who will never advocate for MFA or GND or anything that needs to be done to prevent extreme misery and death for billions of humanoids within 50 years, not to mention the socioeconomic collapse of the American "experiment" within the next dozen or so.

The disclaimer "but he's a democrap" should be plenty to keep voters away at this point. being a democrap means they won't do shit for you while they are pulling your wallet out of your pocket and handing it to wall street et al.

At 6:25 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

His born to run is the greatest reason NOT to support him. A total egotist. The fact that he is married to a billionaire real estate developer also makes me suspicious. Just what this country needs, another rich real estate family!

On the other hand, I will surely vote for any Dem in 2020. Trump or another Republican would be a big NO.

At 6:36 AM, Blogger hester said...

Bernie or Warren. NOt sure about Inslee

At 7:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Clinton was a charismatic campaigner, and betrayed the Middle Class with his policies.

Obamanation was a charismatic campaigner and betrayed the Middle Class with his policies.

Beto O'Roarke is a proven charismatic campaigner whose voting record doesn't promise any different outcome from his Party predecessors.

If this is the best we can do, corporatism will complete the conquest of what remains of America.

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

He's against M4A, he voted for every war appropriation while in Congress, he wanted to fast track TPP and his greatest goal is to work across the aisle with the Republicans. He's Fucking Obama without the melanin. If this is the best the Democrats can do Trump is a shoo-in for a second term.

At 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is he really charismatic without the Ted Cruz stage set? Can he really fund raise without the itching bile of the vile Ted Cruz amplifying the urgency of his persona?

At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do I feel about Beto announcing? I certainly don’t want to see a faux progressive and closet corporatist win the nomination. But if he can take votes away from Status Quo Joe, and thus help Bernie, that’s fine with me!

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hester, I would feel better about Inslee than about both Bernie and Elizabeth given what they did in '16.

But I doubt anyone outside of WA state knows who he is. He cannot win. The DNC will make sure of it if the anonymity with voters doesn't.


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