Monday, March 25, 2019

Who Is Beto? And Why Is He Running For President?


One of my friends called the other day and reminded me that I had first met Barack Obama when he was a state senator, soon after I had discovered that he wasn't an Israeli Irishman. He was running for the U.S. Senate and conventional wisdom said he had no chance at all. He was in 4th place in an 8 person race. Some friends and I put on a fundraiser for him here in L.A. where his presentation stunned everyone in the room. I recall that it cost $75 to get in. After he was done speaking, there was not a single flat surface in the house that wasn't taken by someone writing another check. He was just a state senator no one had ever heard of and you could hear the word "president" be uttered. (He went on to win the primary with 53% of the votes, his closest opponent, Illinois state Comptroller Dan Hynes, taking 24%.) The reason my friend brought him was because he wanted to ask me if I saw any resemblance between Beto and Obama. I thought about it for a moment before responding that they were both males.

I also got to know Beto a bit before he was in Congress. He was making the jump from the El Paso City Council to Congress-- successfully primarying a corrupt, conservative Democrat, Silvestre Reyes, a Pelosi crony. Blue America endorsed him and helped him win the primary. I like Beto, even if he's not what I had hoped for in a rockin' young congressman and even if he's sketchy on policy and-- as it turns out-- not as good, at least in practice, on the campaign finance reform issues he's always shouting about. Still... a nice guy, always willing to talk through policy differences in a respectful and open way, more than I can say for many politicians. But a president of the U.S.? I don't see it.

Yesterday, a couple of NBC reporters, Lauren Egan and Alex Seitz-Wald, wrote how Beto could be a threat-- to Biden on his right and Bernie on his left. They start by interviewing some old dumbbell ex-Republican worried about Biden and Bernie being old and Bernie being a socialist. Apparently Setz-Wald picked his typical man on the street who's no longer a Republican but still watches Fox News. "Beto's theme of bringing people together really resonates with me. This division is very unsettling," sayeth the idiot.

While Sanders' allies have worried that O'Rourke could eat into the Vermont senator's base of young progressives, Biden may end up being the one with the most to lose among mainline Democrats more concerned with electability than political revolution.

Instead of shoring up his progressive bona fides in the face of left-flank attacks, O'Rourke has emphasized a Biden-esque message of civility while making a case that he can win the White House by stumping in the very Midwest states that Biden allies argue "Middle-Class Joe" is most capable of carrying.

"Because he generates so much excitement, a lot of people think Beto is a real threat to Bernie Sanders," said Bill Press, a liberal talk radio host who has hosted meetings of Sanders' kitchen cabinet. "Actually, for that very reason, plus the fact that he's closer to Biden than Bernie on the issues, I think Beto's much more of a threat to Joe Biden."

"Some Democrats are asking: If you already have a more exciting, younger, centrist white male in the race, why do you need Joe Biden?" Press said.

...The core of O’Rourke's stump speech is about inclusion, sounding more like Biden, who has been dinged by the left for speaking warmly of Republicans, than Sanders or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who portray their campaigns as us-versus-them fights against a corrupt political system.

The former Texas congressman has repeatedly declined to call himself a "progressive," saying he doesn't like labels, and refused to adopt ideological litmus-test issues, like Medicare for All.

You can always count on a fool like Seitz-Wald to portray Medicare-for-All as an "ideological litmus-test issue," rather than as policy as crucial for the development of the country as Social Security once was. There were people just like him who had nothing to say about it beyond it being an ideological litmus-test issue. Time for more already familiar pablum from Beto:
"Let's make sure that before we are Democrats or Republicans, we see each other as Americans and human beings and treat one another accordingly," O’Rourke said in Cleveland, repeating one of his common refrains.

And O'Rourke, who draws comparisons to Barack Obama on the stump, is even challenging one of Biden's chief assets-- his association with the popular former president.

"People underestimate how difficult it is to run from the lead position," said Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis.

"The real challenge for Biden and Sanders," he continued, "is going to be how do they keep people energized and excited about their candidacy, which really puts the onus on their ideas. Whereas for new candidates like Beto and (Kamala) Harris, it can be about their candidacy and their ideas."

Older white voters who turned out to O’Rourke's events in the midwest nearly universally expressed fondness for Biden, but also concerns about the former vice president, even if they weren't fully sold on O'Rourke.
Beto's fans seem as superficial and vapid as he comes across on the stump. While I was putting this post together, I got an e-mail from Beto's slick, inauthentic campaign. "In just six days, we have a chance to do something really big together, Howard. Something important-- for our country and our campaign to elect Beto. Please stick with us for a few moments while we unravel this." What did they unravel? Just that Beto will continue to imply he supports Bernie's and Elizabeth Warren's issues-- which he doesn't-- in order to raise money from low-info voters on his mailing list.

Goal ThermometerSeitz-Wald quoted one of the infatuated Beto supporters, a woman named Carolyn Harryman, who came to Beto's first campaign event in Keokuk, Iowa, and said beating Trump is her biggest concern in 2020 "I think Biden is smart and a superb human being, but I think we need new ideas." A superb human being? The conservative old racist?

Seitz-Wald also dug up Sharon Quinn, a 70-year-old retiree from Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden's hometown, worried what a run would do to the former vice president's family. "Trump will eviscerate his family, his past, everything. I think he could be an excellent secretary of state, or something like that. We have a lot of fear for him if he runs," she said. "Beto is a blank slate,” Quinn continued. "He has intellectual curiosity and authenticity that we're looking for." Yeah, Blank Slate For President. Nice bumpersticker! Or something like that.

The new Emerson poll of Iowa registered Democratic voters shows Beto still struggling to get out of the also-ran category. At 5%, he has less than half the support Mayor Pete has (11%) and also trails, Biden, Bernie, Kamala, Elizabeth Warren and even Cory Booker. Gillibrand is back at zero and Klobuchar has sunk to 2%. In terms of momentum, Biden has sunk from 29% to 25% since January, Bernie has climbed from 15% to 24% and Kamala sunk from 18% to 10%. At that point Mayor Pete was polling zero, so his sprint to 11% is pretty amazing. Among voters under 30, only Bernie has more support than Buttigieg. In head to head matchups, the only Democrats who would beat Trump in Iowa at this point are Biden and Bernie.

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At 9:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beto is the bait, the distraction. He's to entrance us with his florid yet empty verbiage, seducing us away from those dangerous socialists so that we can be led safely back into the corral where our corporatist cowboys can brand us for future identification.

Beto will remind us who we really belong to, people like him who know better than we do to the extent that we will eventually not know truth differs from what we once thought.

Hear what he says. Do what we are told. He will take care of us better than we could, for he is Beto.

We really didn't want frivolous things like health care and retirement when our leaders need to conquer the world.

At 7:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is beto's 'Obama at the 2004 convention' moment. He's nice looking, energetic and charming; speaks well and is something of a shape-shifter (can appear to be whatever a voter wants to see).

So he's testing the water, putting his name out there and planning a future serious run. And if the field eats each other, as the Nazis did in 2016, leaving only him standing... all the better.

But he's a boilerplate corporate whoring democrap, also exactly like obamanation. And empty suit who won't do shit except win the election and abdicate to the money from there on.

At 9:20 AM, Blogger edmondo said...

Beto argues for cutting Social Security eligibility and raising the retirement age.

Can't wait to see him repeat these positions in the Florida primary


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