Beto O’Rourke is officially in the presidential race, which means the media gets another year or so of breathlessly covering a guy whose main qualification for the highest office is that he almost came close to beating Ted Cruz in a good year for Democrats while his campaign was swimming in money.
The difference this time is that the coverage isn’t exactly going to be of the fawning “white Obama” or “skateboarding JFK” variety. O’Rourke is running against a panoply of other politicians the media loves to fawn over, which means the messianic tone of their reportage might actually change a bit.
And nowhere is that more apparent than when he committed the gravest of modern liberal sins: Exercising his “white male privilege.”
So, O’Rourke was making a campaign appearance in a coffee shop when, according to The Washington Post’s Matt Viser, he made the fatal mistake of noting that his wife spent a goodly portion of her time raising their children.
Beto tells a coffee shop crowd that he just talked with his wife, Amy. “She is raising, sometimes with my help,” their three kids. Then says he’s running for president for his kids, and theirs.
— Matt Viser (@mviser) March 14, 2019
To the normal mind, that’s a mildly humorous quip.
It acknowledges the fact that O’Rourke has been a busy man. Not only did he spend most of 2018 running for Senate, but he has also been occupied for the past few years raising his profile as a politician, becoming one of the most visible members in the House of Representatives. I mean, come on — you can’t be raising your kids and doing gratuitous Facebook livestreams at the same time. Someone has to step up and do the work, and one would assume Mrs. O’Rourke is the individual doing it.
To the liberal mind, that was a signal that his white privilege is showing. After all, could female candidates make the same joke? So, according to The Hill, he spent a fair chunk of his time on the “Political Party LIVE!” podcast walking that simple joke back.
“Not only will I not say that again, but I’ll be more thoughtful going forward in the way that I talk about our marriage,” he said during a recording of the show in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He also vouchsafed that he would consider closely “the way in which I acknowledge the truth of the criticism that I have enjoyed white privilege.”
“My ham-handed attempt to try to highlight the fact that Amy has the lion’s share of the burden in our family — that she actually works but is the primary parent in our family, especially when I served in Congress, especially when I was on the campaign trail — should have also been a moment for me to acknowledge that that is far too often the case, not just in politics, but just in life in general,” O’Rourke added.
“I hope as I have been in some instances part of the problem, I can also be part of the solution.”
Oh, good grief.
Look, if you’re a Democrat and you don’t want a rich white man as your nominee in 2020, then you probably shouldn’t have spent most of 2018 elevating a mediocre rich white man to rock-star status because he stuck around during a Senate race in Texas against a Republican with a likability problem.
Then again, if you’re a Democrat and you think that this is a serious sign of toxic rich white masculinity — Beto getting a tepid laugh over talking about his wife having to carry a bit more of the child-rearing load as he campaigns — I would argue you likely don’t even commute to reality, much less live in it.
As for O’Rourke, if this is what he’s going to keep on apologizing for, he might as well just quit his campaign, even if it’s nary a week old.
Beto is no longer running against Ted Cruz, which means the media is going to start treating him — well, a little more like conservatives do. Not only are they going to realize he’s a substance-free cipher who behaves more like a social media influencer than an adult with serious ideas, they’re also going to realize he’s everything the new identity politics of the left seems to abhor.
Checking Beto’s privilege isn’t a new phenomenon. CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson — writing about Beto’s strange, frequently livestreamed road trip after his loss in November — titled an article “Beto’s excellent adventure drips with white male privilege.” I can think of other problems with it, but OK. And then there was the fact that he seemed to acknowledge that he enjoyed “white privilege” back when he got his DUI conviction.
If Beto is going to keep on apologizing for little stuff like this and for “the criticism that I have enjoyed white privilege” — one imagines Henderson’s article had to be in the back of his mind when he said that — the media’s going to focus on the other issues of “white privilege” in his campaign.
Perhaps those issues don’t necessarily spring from the color of his skin, but nobody would be paying attention to Beto if he weren’t a rich guy who managed to elevate his profile through ridiculous stunts such as driving to Washington, D.C., with a Republican and can speak with eloquence and passion despite the fact that he doesn’t have a whole lot to say.
Once the media connects this with “white privilege” — a popular phrase at the moment, in case you hadn’t noticed — the left is going to skewer him. As for the rest of America, they’re going to see a weak candidate who can’t even extricate himself from the wreckage caused by a harmless joke.
Either way, if this is how Beto 2020 is going to roll, why not just pack it in now and save everyone the money and trouble this inauspicious candidacy is going to cost? At least that way, he can spend more time raising the kids and let his wife do whatever she wants.
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