I’ll give it to Robert “Beto” O’Rourke: When it comes to getting attention for no good reason, he’s actually pretty darn good at it.
Beto supposedly “restarted” his campaign on Thursday. It would be a bit more accurate to say that after spending a solid part of the month feigning fulmination in his home town of El Paso, Texas — using the tragic events that happened there as a springboard to get some attention and brand the president, members of his party and pretty much anyone who votes for them as racists, all in the most disgusting way — he started campaigning outside of said town.
Thusly, he returned to the trail, having rebooted his campaign in a similarly loathsome way.
No longer was he the “unity” candidate, a bland liberal you could project your Kennedy-esque aspirations upon. Now he was Very, Very Angry.
Specifically, he was he was angry about guns. He was angry about Donald Trump. He was angry about “white nationalism,” whatever that means nowadays.
(Last I checked, Merriam-Webster defined it as “a group of militant whites who espouse white supremacy and advocate enforced racial segregation.” In 2019, I believe it just means “person who votes Republican.”)
And he was angriest about the synergy of this triumvirate of very evil things. That’s why he rebooted his campaign by proposing a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” a forced buyback for them, a voluntary buyback program for handguns, restrictions that would raise the age to buy most firearms to 21 and an amorphous proposal that would institute some sort of national gun safety training for owning a firearm.
All of this was announced in earnest on Friday. On Saturday, needing to keep that media momentum up, Beto attended a gun show.
The Hill reported Saturday that the former congressman attended the show in Arkansas “to talk with firearm owners and vendors about solutions to tackle gun violence.” Presumably with lots and lots of cameras present.
“At the show, Beto listened to voters — including many Republicans who voted for Trump in 2016 — about their thoughts on gun safety,” O’Rourke’s campaign said in a statement, according to The Hill.
“In order to make progress, Beto believes we have to meet people where they are, and not be afraid to have hard conversations with people who may not always agree.”
This is a guy who, last Sunday, said “I think it’s really hard” to see someone who decides to vote for Trump without being a racist. How hard was he listening to these Republicans? (Oh, and let’s not kid ourselves: The demographic of a gun show in Arkansas doesn’t just include “many Republicans.” It includes Republicans. Period.)
How hard was he listening to these gun owners? This is what he had to say on Friday, via a statement: “The terrorist attack on El Paso, fueled by the racist rhetoric of Donald Trump, was not only an attack on America, but an attack on the aspirational ideals of this nation.
“Congress’ failure to act has resulted in a democracy that is unwilling to confront an epidemic of gun violence. It’s time for those in positions of public trust to stand up, tell the truth and offer bold solutions without fear of political ramifications so we can finally start making progress and saving lives.”
How hard are you listening to Americans who believe in and may want to exercise their Second Amendment rights when you say things like that?
But, wouldn’t you know it, they found exactly what they were looking for. Chris Evans, Beto’s communications director, tweeted this out:
A Trump voter and Republican is, “ok with a mandatory assault weapons buy back” https://t.co/0KFapMkwyp
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans_TX) August 17, 2019
And, as ABC News’ Jeffrey Cook noted, the guy also said he didn’t think it would solve the gun violence problem — he’d be right, mind you — but shh. They found one guy who’s OK with a mandatory gun buyback! Spread the word, everybody.
According to Cook’s coverage, Beto spent 30 minutes at the event in Conway, Arkansas, more than enough time for a few pictures of him looking pensive in the standard-issue Beto blue shirt. (As a side note, O’Rourke has the style range of Steve Jobs, and that’s not a compliment.)
They also found a gun dealer who supported universal background checks, so that got tweeted out, too:
“he thinks his sales at the gun show should be subject to a background, which they are not here.” https://t.co/QhsZ5iDgRg
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans_TX) August 17, 2019
Fifty bucks says Beto is at a gun range sometime this week, “listening to gun owners — many of whom are Republicans who voted for Trump 2016 — about their thoughts regarding gun safety.”
If you think I sound flippant about this, consider the flippancy with which O’Rourke has treated a national tragedy in the place of his birth.
No sooner had the shooting happened than Beto rushed to El Paso, not to help his community heal, but so he could do as many remote interviews from the location as possible and refashion his failing campaign as a holy jihad against “white nationalism” and gun rights.
Beto O’Rourke is essentially Sen. Chalmers from “Bullitt” with a skateboard and a closet full of blue button-down shirts. He’s a fundamentally unserious preener who’s managed to package himself as a man of depth and morals. Somehow, he’s managed to convince the media of this charade, too.
O’Rourke spent 30 minutes at a gun show the day after he told Americans he was going to take away their guns and said it showed he could “have hard conversations with people who may not always agree.” But when his campaign found two people who sorta agreed with him, up on Twitter they went.
Beto’s campaign has been resuscitated on an altar of human sorrow. America needs to be reminded of that every time he pulls a ghastly photo op like this. This is what opportunism looks like.
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