Now that Beto O’Rourke has thrown his hat and maybe his skateboard into the presidential arena, he is being savaged by the national press corps not to mention by a few of his fellow candidates.
Predictably, conservatives are beating him up and belittling him. But he also is getting hit hard from the left, which argues he is not progressive enough, that he is white, that he is male and that his platform is a vague “let’s all come together.”
Even organizations with no particular political bent are dissecting his remarks and hunting for misrepresentations.
One reason he is getting outsized national press attention – more than any of the other 15 candidates – is that both Democrats and Republicans believe Texas could be in play in the 2020 elections. That is because of the number of red counties Beto turned blue in his unsuccessful Senate campaign to unseat Ted Cruz.
Here are a some representative comments from political pundits, competing candidates and entities with no political axe to grind:
Let’s start with Fox News, which delivered pretty much what you might expect. On the day Beto announced, Fox talk show host Laura Ingram described him as a pretty boy – a political lightweight with no platform, little experience and few accomplishments.
She even made fun of his energetic and animated hand gestures, showing a video of him speaking but with the sound track replaced by a classical symphony. Ingram suggested Beto really has “an inner desire to be a conductor of the philharmonic.”
President Trump got off on the same idea: “There’s a lotta hand movement…. Is he crazy? Or is that just the way he acts.”
Here’s a Beto headline sampler that was published in a column last week in the New York Times: “The unbearable male privilege of Beto O’Rourke” (The Daily Beast). “He voted for Republican legislation” (The Wall Street Journal). “He put his adolescent fantasies into print” (The Resurgent). “He’s a wealthy dilettante” (The National Review), “an empty shell” (The New Republic), “a teenage hacker” (USA Today), and “a master class in male entitlement” (The Guardian).
Others scored him for a comment he made in the Vanity Fair cover story suggesting he felt an undeserved sense of entitlement when he said, “Man, I’m just born to be in it.”
Candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., responded, “I wasn’t born to run for office, just because growing up in the ’70s, in the middle of the country, I don’t think many people thought a girl could be president. I wasn’t born to run. But I am running.”
He was scored on social media for his oft repeated campaign-trail joke that wife Amy has been raising their three kids “sometimes with my help.” Some commentators said that showed insensitivity to single parent challenges.
That one Beto took to heart: “Not only will I not say that again, but I will be much more thoughtful in the ways that I talk about my marriage,” the Associated Press quoted him as saying.
Some were critical of his announcement video showing wife Amy sitting quietly by and occasionally holding his hand.
Gina Glantz of the GenderAvenger, a group promoting women, wrote that Beto “exudes a sense of entitlement, which I find off-putting.”
One of the campaign themes he returned to in Iowa was that this election is a last chance to do something about climate change. He suggested there is universal agreement among scientists that the world will reach an inescapable climate tipping point in 12 years if something isn’t done right away.
The Associated Press, which strives hard to keep opinion out of its news stories, reached the authors of that study who contradicted Beto’s assertion.
“Glad to clear this up,” James Skea, co-chairman of the report and professor of sustainable energy at Imperial College London, told AP. The panel “did not say we have 12 years left to save the world.”
Yet for all the negative comments he has received since declaring, Beto continues to attract crowds and raise money. Many who hear him come away saying they like what he says. He has plenty of money to stay through the first rounds of the campaign. He is charming, good looking, exudes an air of decency and he has extraordinary verbal skills.
So, two questions: Can he beat out the other 15 Democratic candidates? And if so, could he beat President Trump?
Interesting that he is now being viewed as a moderate candidate – more moderate than he appeared in the battle with Ted Cruz. And where will that leave him when former Vice President Joe Biden, himself considered a moderate, joins the race? Can’t wait to watch this play out.