Oh, Wendy Davis, how quickly we’ve forgotten you and your pink sneakers.
Back in 2014, Davis was the Texas state senator who became a media darling because of her 2013 filibuster of an abortion bill. She was supposed to be the Chosen One who would turn Texas blue, or at least some shade of purple.
Sure, Democrats have had profoundly limited success over the past three decades in Lone Star politics, but Davis was different. She wasn’t just a Dem, she was a progressive. She was a rock star whose accession to statewide office seemed like a mere formality — at least, if you believed the media at the time.
Then came the 2014 gubernatorial election, where she lost by 19 points to Republican Greg Abbott. Whoops. In the pantheon of political rock stars, Davis is kind of like The Hives: Sure, you may know their name, but when was the last time you heard from or about them?
Now, it’s 2018, and Texas Democrats and the national media have a new idol named U.S. Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke. And things are looking awfully familiar.
The 2018 iteration of Wendy Davis may not lose by the kind of embarrassing margin Davis did, and O’Rourke’s history proves that he at least partied like a rock star at one point (with disastrous results on his driving record).
However, barring a major shift in the polls over the next two weeks, he’s still going to lose, and by a margin big enough that those who care solely about the Texas race can probably call it a night rather early on Election Day.
Nevertheless, when it comes to the media and their ersatz Kennedy, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die. Nowhere was that more evident than on ABC’s “This Week,” where one of the network’s reporters literally called Beto “a rock star.”
Witness the fawning for yourself:
“You can’t go 10 feet without an interruption from a Beto backer,” reporter Paula Faris said as she followed a sweaty O’Rourke through a campaign event.
“You’re a rock star,” she told O’Rourke.
“No, no there is just so many great people,” he responded.
She was still ever eager to convince him of this, however: “No, you really are.”
See, the whole secret to covering a candidate as if they were a rock star — or at least one of them — is to not give away you’re covering them as if they were a rock star. I mean, I guess if you’re a ThinkProgress reporter embedded with Beto’s campaign, sure — it’s not going to do you any harm.
However, if you’re a reporter for ABC News and you’re treating a candidate like he’s a performer at Coachella, it tends to engender credibility issues.
Unfortunately for American journalism, Faris has plenty of company on this account. Take this headline earlier this month from the folks at The Washington Post: “The special sauce that flavors Beto O’Rourke-mania.”
“Harder for other Democrats to reproduce is O’Rourke’s cool factor: skateboarding at Whataburger, playing the air drums, doing his laundry on Facebook Live, and scoring appearances with Ellen DeGeneres and Stephen Colbert after saying there’s ‘nothing more American’ than the right of National Football League players to protest during the national anthem,” columnist Dana Milbank wrote.
Yes, that’s apparently “special sauce” for a 46-year-old man. I don’t know, I’m technically a millennial and that reeks of a man bitterly clinging onto his 20s way longer than any father of three ever should.
Of course, Beto was a failed rock star in his 20s. He’s encountered somewhat more success in the less-musical medium of politics, but for his political party, that statewide breakthrough is still as elusive as it was back when Wendy Davis was repping those pink sneakers. And, unlike Davis, he’s spent a metric ton of donor money on what will likely end up being what Texas Democrats probably call a moral victory.
Cheer up, Texas liberals. I’m sure there’s another rock star for you just around the corner, someone who will cause reporters to gladly ditch their professionalism all over again in order to act like obsequious fanboys and girls. They’ll likely lose again, mind you, but I do hope it’s another moral victory.
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