Remember Betomania? It seems an age away, yet just three months ago, Beto O’Rourke was still being hailed as the Democratic messiah. There was all that gush about how his campaign in Texas inspired the country, even though he lost. There was the mad drooling over his Medium and Instagram posts. There was that appalling, emetic Vanity Fair cover through which he revealed he was running: ‘I was born to be in it.’ There was that competing rally with Trump on the Texan border, where he stood for openness as opposed to bigotry.
He was cool, he was cute, he was impeccably progressive on issues such as climate change, gun control and LGBTQ rights. But he wasn’t too dangerously threateningly left to freak out the elites. He was the white Obama, America’s Justin Trudeau, Bobby Kennedy for teetotal millennials. What was not to like?
Quite a lot, it turns out. His campaign began and immediately fell flat. He’s currently polling at around 3.8 percent, nationally, a good 30 points down from Joe Biden. In a crowded field, he hasn’t been able to stand out. Perhaps he has been overtaken by another, more eloquent media darling in Pete Buttigieg. Or perhaps Beto’s obvious narcissism, often expressed through faux humility, doesn’t strike a chord with voters. Maybe he’s just not that cool.
Beto has now resorted to telling reporters that London Calling by the Clash changed his life. He was in a punk band, remember, he’s still cool, remember. The irony there is that phony Betomania has bitten the dust.
O’Rourke is now ignoring calls for him to abandon his 2020 ambitions and run the Texas Senate race again. He’s rolling out more and more pro-LGBTQ legislation ideas. ‘We cannot allow polls to determine our chances,’ he says. ‘Nor as president will I allow polls to determine what we focus on. We’ll do what is right for the right reasons, regardless of the political consequences.’ O’Rourke’s campaign could somehow stumble on some political momentum; stranger things have happened. For now, he just looks like what Donald Trump would call a ‘stone cold loser’.