Why did Beto O’Rourke’s presidential candidacy fail?
I suppose you could come up with a whole panoply of reasons if given the chance. For me, I would say it likely had something to do with the former Texas congressman’s woefully uninspiring campaign in which he told an identity politics-obsessed Democratic electorate that what they really needed was a privileged white guy who would publicly self-flagellate over that fact.
Add to this a bunch of radical positions on issues that nobody was too interested in (hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15; hell yes, we’re going to take your church’s tax-exempt status), the fact his primary accomplishment was losing a Senate race in a year that was exceptionally good for Democrats, and a Democratic presidential field that was far more consolidated than most pundits thought it was, and I can kind of guess why Beto’s campaign was moribund from the moment he announced.
This doesn’t even touch on the sweaty blue button-down shirts, which was reason enough alone to keep him out of the White House.
But, according to Joy Behar, it was because O’Rourke didn’t lie enough.
Monday’s edition of ABC’s “The View” was, in part, dedicated to a postmortem of the Beto campaign. This seemed to be a popular topic at the start of the week, for whatever reason; I can’t wait for this kind of attention to be paid when Amy Klobuchar finally decides to stop burning donors’ money.
There were quite a few takes on why Robert Francis never quite got traction. For Behar — consistently the most left-wing member of a panel not renowned for its conservatism — it’s because he told the truth about his gun confiscation plan.
O’Rourke, in case you forgot, made it clear during a debate in September that if he had his druthers, his administration was going to confiscate so-called assault weapons.
“I am, if it’s a weapon that was designed to kill people on a battlefield,” O’Rourke said in response to a question about whether his gun buyback program meant he was going to take people’s firearms.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47, we’re not going to allow it to be used against fellow Americans anymore.”
This wasn’t the issue, according to Behar. Rather, it was the fact that he told people that.
“They should not tell everything they’re going to do. If you’re going to take people’s guns away, wait until you get elected — then take the guns away,” Behar said.
“Don’t tell them ahead of time.”
Meghan McCain, as can very occasionally be the case on “The View,” was the voice of reason here.
“By the way, that’s what people like me think they’re gonna do,” McCain said. “That’s what people like me think is gonna happen, so I appreciate his honesty.”
What’s worth noting here is that O’Rourke dropped out of the Democratic primary, in which — duh — mostly Democrats end up voting for the candidates.
That means that Beto not only couldn’t break 3 percent among people who wanted to hear candidates telling them they were going to take America’s AR-15s but that this clearly wasn’t the problem with his campaign. Thus, Behar was wrong in a multitude of ways.
Primary among the bad premises baked into just two sentences of Beharism, however, was the unspoken idea that America needs to be lied to in order to get a candidate that’s good for it.
Taking people’s guns away won’t get you elected? Just don’t say you’re going to do it and then do it anyhow. That’s how you get things done: Tell America that if they like their firearms, they can keep their firearms. It’ll be just like their doctors — unless, of course, you consider the fact that there’s no amendment that says, “A well-run family practice, being necessary to the security of an HMO plan, the right of the people to keep and visit a physician, shall not be infringed.”
Let’s see her say this the next time Donald Trump — or any other Republican, for that matter — breaks a campaign promise.
But then again, perhaps Beto should have lied. After all, his only way upward in politics after his presidential faceplant is to run against GOP Sen. John Cornyn for Texas’ other Senate seat.
After promising to seize America’s AR-15s, I don’t think he can go back down to Texas — where people tend to take the Second Amendment seriously — and tell voters, “Can’t you, uh, guys take a joke?”
That’s probably just as well.
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