by Daniel Kalder
Friday, 9
September 2022
Dispatch
15:43

The unbearable lightness of Beto O’Rourke

The Democrat may be intelligent, but he's utterly incapable of effective action
by Daniel Kalder
The Superfluous Man. Credit: Getty

Texas

Few have fallen from grace as fast and as hard as Robert “Beto” O’Rourke. Back in 2018, when the former congressman from El Paso ran against Ted Cruz, the “Beto” yard signs and bumper stickers were ubiquitous. Texas Democrats, long accustomed to seeing their candidates get trounced in elections, finally had hope. Even though Beto lost, it was a close thing, and Democrats began to dream that Texas might turn blue.

That enthusiasm is a distant memory now. In November Beto announced that he would run for governor of Texas against the incumbent, Greg Abbott, but months would pass before I spotted any yard signs — and I live in a county that voted for Beto in 2018.

Of course, something happened in between these two runs at power. While attempting to unseat Ted Cruz, Beto was frequently the subject of the breathless political fan fiction that Americans charmingly call “journalism”. This seemed to turn his head, as Beto decided that losing to the most unpopular man in Congress qualified him to run for the 2020 presidential nomination.

The campaign was perhaps best summed up by one wag who tweeted “O’Rourke running for president of the New York Times editorial board.” He staked out strong progressive positions, suggesting that budget should be diverted from the “overmilitarized” police, that religious organisations opposed to gay marriage should be stripped of their tax  exempt status while also declaring “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.” It didn’t work: Beto dropped out of the race after his polling (and fundraising) plummeted to embarrassingly low levels. Despite that, he remained a presence in Texas politics, endorsing candidates for Congress in the 2020 election, including one in my congressional district (she lost).

And then came the decision to run for governor. Every now and again I would check in on his campaign, which I think that even his die-hard fans found a bit of a letdown. He equivocated on immigration and struggled to rekindle the popular anger against Abbott following the ice storm in February 2021. My favourite moment was when he tried to blame Abbott for hyperinflation while tweeting a picture of trucks backed up at the border with Mexico.

Then came Uvalde. Gun rights are a powerful political shibboleth for Texas Republicans, and so it was always clear that their response to the tragedy would be to do nothing, other than to say some stupid things (Ted Cruz took the gold when he suggested that the real problem was that Texas schools had too many doors). This provided Beto with an opportunity to talk compellingly about gun control but even here he flubbed it, when he crashed a press conference in Uvalde and told Abbott “this is on you”. For consumers of Democrat fan fiction this was no doubt an exciting moment, but it did nothing to move the needle on his polling. Indeed, his posturing angered Uvalde mayor Don McLaughlin so much that he called O’Rourke “a sick son of a bitch” on camera.

The end of Roe means that Texas now has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, and Beto has gone after them with vigour… and yet still he continues to lag behind Abbott. The latest polling has him five points behind; other polls have placed him at seven points behind. Third time lucky? It seems unlikely. And disappointing his supporters for a third time will surely mark the end of his political career.

Beto will be alright, of course. He’s the son of a Democrat judge, the step-grandson of JFK’s secretary of the navy and the son-in-law of a billionaire: he has spent many years failing upwards. However, to truly understand him, I think we need to turn to 19th century Russian literature, where there was a type known as the “superfluous man”. The Encyclopedia Britannica provides a good explanation: “He is usually an aristocrat, intelligent, well-educated, and informed by idealism and goodwill but incapable, for reasons as complex as Hamlet’s, of engaging in effective action.”

This fits Beto pretty well, except for the bit about complex reasons of course — the guy just isn’t that deep. But it is certainly true that he is incapable of engaging in effective action. At age 50, the superfluous man of Texas politics is going to have to find something else to do with his life.

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Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
18 days ago

If I were to think of epithets to describe O’Rourke, the first that would come to mind would be: “fake”, “devoid of self-awareness” and “unbearably awkward”. One of the last that would present itself is “intelligent”.
He postures so as to insinuate a working class, Latino heritage, when, as the author notes, he is actually a fourth generation Irish rich kid who spent a number of years doing nothing much but playing bass guitar, skateboarding and generally failing in various ventures. He then fell in to the world where you need no qualifications, no talent, and no intelligence to succeed: politics.
He’s gone along with the Democrats extremist positions: effectively open borders, unrestricted abortion rights – including full term abortion -, and all the hardcore woke stuff:
Latinos never fell for it. Not even his skateboarding antics on the campaign trail won them over. The fact that he is the descendent of slave owners probably didn’t help him with the black vote. Although it did show his family have a long history in the Democratic Party.
A fake, with extremist political positions, representing a party whose control of any state, city, town, guarantees its rapid descent in to lawlessness, insolvency, filth and decay; it’s hardy surprising he isn’t making much headway.
Under Abbot, Texas has been flourishing. Business and individual tax exiles are flooding in from the overtaxed Democrat cesspits such as California, and they will soon be followed by the tech industry now California can’t keep the lights on. With that success I’m bewildered why anyone would want to vote for a clown like O’Rourke and his destructive Democrat policies.

Last edited 17 days ago by Marcus Leach
Mike Bewley
Mike Bewley
17 days ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

the truth is the Texans pay more in taxes than they do in California, sorry to burst your bubble.

Too Loose Low Trek
Too Loose Low Trek
17 days ago
Reply to  Mike Bewley

How so?

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
17 days ago
Reply to  Mike Bewley

In 2021 the total state tax revenue collected for California was $248 billion. For Texas it was $65 billion.
Of course, California has a larger population at 39 million compared to Texas’s 29 million. But if we look at tax per capita, California comes out at of $6359 compared to $2,241.
Californians on average, then, pay around 3x in state taxes than Texans. Considering what Californians get back for their tax dollars in terms of public services and the infrastructure, it’s a double insult.

Last edited 17 days ago by Marcus Leach
Mike Bewley
Mike Bewley
17 days ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

actually the middle 60% of Texas pay in state and local taxes 9.7% , in California the same group pays 8.9%, you forget the local taxes make up what the state doesn’t pay, try again

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
16 days ago
Reply to  Mike Bewley

Mike. Marcus brought the numbers, Ok?
Maybe local taxes (read: property taxes) are higher in Texas (on average) than in California, and folding in the burden of local taxes would make tax burdens in Texas higher?
Feel free to look up property in localities situated in California and Texas. What do you think you’re going to see?

Mike Bewley
Mike Bewley
16 days ago

Overall taxes are higher in Texas, which include property tax and sales taxes, unlike an income tax, these taxes don’t go down if you are unemployed or underemployed

Mike Bewley
Mike Bewley
16 days ago

Property taxes in Texas dwarf California’s

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
16 days ago
Reply to  Mike Bewley

Let me help you.
Your initial assertion that: “Texans pay more in taxes than they do in California”, is clearly wrong.
What is true is that individuals may face higher a rate of tax in Texas than in California. It is also true that because Texas doesn’t have income tax, those individuals tend to be lower earners.
But the plain percentage tax rates can be deceptive. For example, the property tax in California is 0.73% compared to Texas at 1.69%.
On your figures the Californian is much better off However, the median house price of a family home in California is $816,804 compared to $314,718 in Texas That means the average Californian is paying $5 962 in property tax compared to $5 004 for the average Texan. California has a lower percentage tax rate, but on average Californians pay almost $1000 dollars more annually.
The tax structure in Texas has a number of benefits. Whereas in California people are punished with higher tax rates for increasing their income by advancing in their career, working harder or running a successful business, in Texas people get to keep more of the fruits of their labour. People are incentivised to better themselves. Californians, and particularly low earners, are disincentivised to progress.
Texas’s tax system draws wealth and businesses to the State, bringing a larger tax base and more jobs and opportunities. California drives them away.
The reality is revealed by where people choose to be, and it is California that is declining and Texas that is growing.

Last edited 16 days ago by Marcus Leach
Donn Barnes
Donn Barnes
16 days ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

your calculations may be correct yet they omit the shadow taxes paid by Texans. Everything the State of Texas charges a fee for – professional licensing fees, driving license costs, hunting and fishing permits, building permits, even traffic fines have increased dramatically over the past couple dozen years. Saying that Texans shoulder a heavier tax burden may not be accurate, but I’d bet that all things considered, the overall financial burden is as high or higher than California. 

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
16 days ago
Reply to  Donn Barnes

Better to deal with specifics rather than guessing.
Attorney annual license fee. California $515. Texas $68- $235
Drivers license costs: California $3,300. Texas $2,500
Fishing permit. California $48.34. Texas $40
Hunting permit California $54. Texas $25.or $7 for over 65s.

Last edited 16 days ago by Marcus Leach
Sam McGowan
Sam McGowan
17 days ago
Reply to  Mike Bewley

There is no income tax in Texas. We are only taxed on property and sales. Some Texans don’t pay property taxes – I’m one of them.

Mike Bewley
Mike Bewley
17 days ago
Reply to  Sam McGowan

really is that what you think? Do you pay rent? Who do think is paying the property taxes on your space? You are. You also pay sales taxes, you are taxed at a higher rate than in California overall. Lesson over

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
16 days ago
Reply to  Sam McGowan

Awesome. And, of course, California goes for the hat trick: sales tax, income tax and property tax.
Meanwhile, in California, Proposition13 (1977) imposes a disproportionate property tax on new home owners.

Sam McGowan
Sam McGowan
17 days ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Beto is the original “fake Mexican.”

Zero Fox
Zero Fox
17 days ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

“playing bass guitar”, enough said.

Nolan Barry
Nolan Barry
18 days ago

“Schools have too many doors”. He was talking about the common, and effective, safety measure of having limited points of entry to better scrutinize people entering the building.

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
17 days ago
Reply to  Nolan Barry

Agreed. Cruz was suggesting employing the same security that operates at federal buildings and courthouses. There is one point of entry, which is guarded by armed police officers, who can control who comes in and out.
Characterising a policy of controlled ingress and egress to schools, secured by armed guards, as blaming “too many doors”, is cheap and dishonest.

Last edited 17 days ago by Marcus Leach
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
17 days ago
Reply to  Nolan Barry

The fact you have to even consider that for schools just shows how messed up America is

Capitalist Roader
Capitalist Roader
17 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The fact is that Uvalde is less than 100 kilometers from Mexico, a country with a murder rate six times higher than the United States.

Mike Bewley
Mike Bewley
17 days ago

Point being? what? the shooter was an American citizen, explain yourself, I will wait

Sam McGowan
Sam McGowan
17 days ago
Reply to  Mike Bewley

An American citizen of Mexican descent.

Mike Bewley
Mike Bewley
17 days ago
Reply to  Sam McGowan

uhh almost all shooters are white sweetie, now what

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
16 days ago
Reply to  Mike Bewley

Incorrect
The official figures from 1982-2022 for mass shooters is: 70% white, 30% non-white, with 21% being black.
If we take the middle of that period, whites represented 75% of the US population Whites were therefore unrepresented in mass shootings. Blacks at 12.5 % of the population, were disproportionately over represented.

Last edited 16 days ago by Marcus Leach
TJ Wright
TJ Wright
17 days ago
Reply to  Sam McGowan

The ethnicity had nothing to do with it – we are reaping a pandemic of failed and invisible parenting. The shooter had a homelife that was unexplainable. Not excusing him, but it wasn’t cause he was Mexican.

Kat L
Kat L
15 days ago
Reply to  TJ Wright

Is that the problem in Mexico too?

JP Martin
JP Martin
17 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

And your country is not messed up? Just this week, in my country, a man (illegal migrant from Africa) was arrested for the rape of two elderly patients inside a hospital. We are all living in glass houses, sadly.

Kat L
Kat L
15 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Diversity is our strength…

Mike Bewley
Mike Bewley
17 days ago
Reply to  Nolan Barry

or maybe you could consider limiting the access to the AR-15 that the police are afraid to face, with good reason. After all, if the local pizza delivery kid shows up buys an AR-15, 54 clips and 3000 rounds of ammunition what is the worst that could happen. Try again, weak

Kat L
Kat L
15 days ago
Reply to  Mike Bewley

How would you limit the access to criminals

UNKNOWN PERSON
UNKNOWN PERSON
17 days ago
Reply to  Nolan Barry

Yeah, and Daniel Kalder (the author of this article) doesn’t seem to grasp that’s what Senator Cruz was saying.

Last edited 17 days ago by UNKNOWN PERSON
Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
18 days ago

The man is a joke. He has flip flopped on guns, immigration, civility in politics, and numerous other issues multiple times! Beto might as well be a Twitter hot take with a mouth, and he forgets most people have a memory that goes back farther than a week. Also he is a white as they come but adopted “Beto” merely in the hope of increasing Hispanic support while running against an actual Hispanic named Ted Cruz (Cuban). There is nothing about this guy that is not superficial.

Last edited 18 days ago by Matt Hindman
Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
16 days ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Beta is a joke, but that joke nearly bagged a Senate seat, and he remains on the periphery of viability in the gubernatorial campaign. He is a scary joke.

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
17 days ago

Beto Pendejo es una mala broma.

Stephen Leonard
Stephen Leonard
17 days ago
Reply to  Ray Zacek

Una mala broma que “Beto” nunca podría comprender

Jimbo S
Jimbo S
17 days ago

Excellent article. Clearly explains the complete phony and radical Liberal that Beto is. Fake news and national Libs may love him, but thankfully the majority of Texans know he is a fraud and radical Lib completely out of touch with Texas values.

David Lemoine
David Lemoine
17 days ago

“Beto” is as fake as Gavin Newsom – funny the similar backgrounds…

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
16 days ago
Reply to  David Lemoine

You can include Pritzker (Illinois) in that crowd, too.

Sam McGowan
Sam McGowan
17 days ago

The comment about Ted Cruz being the most unpopular member of Congress is spot on. The ONLY reason O’Rourke came within three percentage points against Cruz is because Cruz is so disliked. I only voted for him as the lesser of two evils. Cruz’s comment that Texas schools have too many doors is not that far off, although he should have said too many are left unlocked, as was the case at Uvalde. Incidentally, Uvalde is the ONLY time a mass shooter in Texas targeted an elementary school. The only other Texas “mass shooting” was at the Santa Fe high school and it was prompted, at least to some extent, because a high school girl humiliated the shooter in public after he asked her out. O’Rourke and Wendy Davis need to go off somewhere and form their own colony.

UNKNOWN PERSON
UNKNOWN PERSON
17 days ago

I agree with Mayor McLaughlin.

rod tofino
rod tofino
16 days ago

I don’t agree with the view that O’Rourke is intelligent.He strikes me as being utterly vapid.

Alan Neuren
Alan Neuren
17 days ago

You think when he loses again, he might go out and find a real job?

Mike Bewley
Mike Bewley
17 days ago

Kalder clings to Abbott’s five point lead like his stuffed rabbit during a thunderstorm, hey Kalder sweetie guess what the polling was in 2018? Trafalgar Cruz plus 9, RCP average was 7, final result Cruz by 2.8, see ya in November for your column of sniffles

Rick Jenners
Rick Jenners
17 days ago
Reply to  Mike Bewley

You won’t be capturing lightning in a bottle twice. The yard signs and bumper stickers aren’t there. Beto loses between 7-10. The momentum isn’t there so it’s best you accept reality for what it is. Beto is toast and Texas Democrats had back into the wilderness.

Mike Bewley
Mike Bewley
16 days ago
Reply to  Rick Jenners

sorry sweetie, the signs that are lacking are Abbott signs, you can keep dreaming if you want, but it isn’t capturing lightening in a bottle it is the inevitable tide, smart people live in cities, smart people make money, smart people drive the economy and smart people vote Democratic. Of the top ten largest cities in the US, Texas has FOUR, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin, all blue getting bigger and bluer every year. So the reality that needs to be accepted is on your part. Get your crying towel from 2020, cleaned and ready

Greg Eiden
Greg Eiden
15 days ago
Reply to  Mike Bewley

Yep, those smart people vote Democrat especially in large cities. And large cities are where most people want to live. They want to be right in the middle of the filth of San Fran, Portland, and Seattle. Right in the violence of Chicago, Baltimore and Detroit. Paying $500K minimum for a crappy starter house in a dangerous neighborhood.
So, yes, I agree the big cities are blue (not sure they are all getting bluer?)..I do not agree that those living there and voting D are smart, at least not when it comes to politics.

Last edited 15 days ago by Greg Eiden
George K
George K
17 days ago

By “lightness”, they mean unencumbered by hostility to women, not loaded with hate, unweighted by pettiness and bigotry, and not feeding red meat to extremists.

Last edited 17 days ago by george56
Mike Bewley
Mike Bewley
17 days ago
Reply to  George K

this whole column is based on fear, the fear that Beto will win, they should be afraid

Mike Bewley
Mike Bewley
17 days ago

LOL, what a weak commentary. It sounds more like the author is trying to convince himself that Beto cannot win. The result of the 2018 race was that Democratic turnout surged by 600,000 votes and two Republican congressional districts turned blue and stayed blue in 2020. Abbott himself is underwater in polling and the majority in Texas feel that state in on the wrong track. While Beto has been busy registering new voters for the last two years, Abbott has been squandering state monies on performance theater designed to win approval from his masters at Fox News. Oh, and the Abbott campaign stated that the goal of the blockage was to drive up inflation to hurt Biden. Here is the real news, in 2012 Romney won Texas by 17 points, in 2020 Trump won Texas by 5.5 points. In 2022, Beto will garner more votes for a Democratic candidate in history and Abbott will not even begin to approach the totals for Trump. Polling in Texas is notoriously bad, in 2018 the Trafalgar group had Cruz up by 9, the RCP average was 7, and the final result was 2.6. So cling to your imaginary 5% lead Mr. Kalder if helps you sleep at night, but get your MAGA 2020 crying towel ready.

Too Loose Low Trek
Too Loose Low Trek
17 days ago
Reply to  Mike Bewley

Yikes! The “his masters at Fox News” trope.

Mike Bewley
Mike Bewley
17 days ago

it is a trope how so? prove me wrong, I will wait

Mike Bewley
Mike Bewley
16 days ago

no reply? awww shucks, lol, typical, sad