Beto-skepticism, feminist style

Gail Collins is a left-wing feminist columnist for the New York Times. If this snarky piece about Beto O’Rourke is any indication, Collins wants the Democrats to nominate a female presidential candidate in 2020.

Don’t get me wrong. O’Rourke is a deserving target of snark. Indeed, the snark virtually writes itself.

But why is O’Rourke a less serious candidate for president than, say, Kamala Harris? He served in Congress longer than Harris has. In fact, he served in Congress longer than Barack Obama did.

O’Rourke’s unsuccessful (by a fairly narrow margin) campaign for the Senate in Texas is probably more impressive than Harris’ successful one in California. Texas hasn’t elected a Democratic Senator since 1988. California hasn’t elected a Republican to the Senate since that same year.

Yet Collins writes as if O’Rourke is an interloper in the presidential race. Here are some excerpts:

O’Rourke is different from the dozen or so people who announced before him mainly in the way he’s been treated like a Second Coming. The nation waited while he wandered around the countryside, waiting to hear a special call. When it came and he made the inevitable announcement, he got a cover profile in Vanity Fair, in which he confided, “I’m just born to do this.” Oprah has done everything but turn over her fortune to him.

Has O’Rourke received more fanfare and fawning than Kamala Harris has? I don’t think so, and Collins fails to show that he has.

Do you think he’s special? O’Rourke’s face, when he’s at rest and not acting kind of goofy, does look a little like Bobby Kennedy. Sure, you can say Bobby Kennedy would never have sent out a video of himself getting his teeth cleaned. But how do you really know? Bobby Kennedy never had Instagram.

Good snark, that. But O’Rourke’s teeth-cleaning video wasn’t much more flaky than Elizabeth Warren’s beer grab. Has Collins ridiculed Warren for that, or does she think the ridicule of Warren was sexist?

On Thursday O’Rourke sent out another video — the big one, where he’s sitting with his wife, and announcing: “Amy and I are happy to share with you that I’m running to serve you as the next president of the United States of America.”

People noted that Amy didn’t say anything — just sat there smiling and, as Astead Herndon noted in The Times, “periodically grasping his hand.”

This last part is possibly not as strange as it sounds, since O’Rourke does have a tendency to throw his arms around when he talks. You didn’t want to see the poor woman get knocked off the couch.

Would Harris mock a female left-wing candidate for hand gestures? I don’t think so.

Then it was off to Keokuk, Iowa, to introduce himself to the First State to Vote. He told everybody that Amy was staying home with the kids. They have three — Ulysses, 12, Molly, 10 and Henry, 8. Ulysses got his name because his dad really loves the “Odyssey.”

I’d respect Beto more if the boy were named after President Grant.

At last, Collins gets to what, for her, is heart of the matter:

Why do you think he’s getting so much attention? Certainly none of the announced women candidates are creating this much stir. Elizabeth Warren has been shoving out policy positions. Kamala Harris has been campaigning like crazy. Warren, Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar are all acting senators. O’Rourke is a former member of the House of Representatives who lost a race to Ted Cruz, one of the least appealing human beings on the face of the earth.

But there’s just something about Beto that makes him stand apart. Hate to think it’s being a cute white guy who can skateboard.

I’d hate to think Obama stood apart because he was a cute black guy who could hoop.

Democrats are the party of resentment (a hard-earned status considering how much resentment there is on the GOP side). Black Democrats resent whites; female Democrats resent men. Democrats who aren’t making it resent people who are; Democrats who have made it look down on people who haven’t.

This works well for the party when the target is white male Republicans. But in the ungodly scramble that will be the Democratic nominating process, these resentments seem destined to be turned inward, in the form of Democrat-on-Democrat political violence.

Collins’ mocking of O’Rourke is a preview of coming attractions, and probably a tame one.

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