SocraticGadfly: Beto 2020? If so, the long knives are out

November 08, 2018

Beto 2020? If so, the long knives are out

Two National Review alums, Elaina Plott at The Atlantic (who wrote that craptacular Heidi Cruz suck-up piece just before Election Day) and Tim Alberta at Politico have both written hack job pieces on Beto O'Rourke. And, I suspect it's out of fear; why on that is at the bottom.

I can only conclude that both are worried about a Beto campaign for the president and are throwing him under the bus. Some of their analysis is true, but some is simply false and easily refuted. (As a Green leaner, I personally am not jazzed by a Beto 2020 possibility. Truth vs falsehood on campaigns in general is another issue, though.)

Both are passing on lies, as I see it, in claiming Beto supports single-payer / Medicare for All. I knocked that down more than six months ago in my Beto is a ConservaDem piece. And, contra Tweedledee and Tweedledum, I stand by that. Sema Hernandez asked Beto for his pledge to support Bernie Sanders' S. 1804. She posted a statement to that effect on her campaign letterhead. But, that paper did not have O'Rourke's John Hancock. So, contra Alberta's claim that he supported Bernie's idea, nope. Contra Plott's more blanket claim, nope.

Neither Tweedledee nor Tweedledum is an idiot. Both know Beto's voting record. Neither post a URL (yes, that's something that exists, kids) as proof of their claims.

Alberta engages in "framing" in claiming that Beto called for abolishing ICE. Nope, closest he came to that was saying that he was open to the idea of replacing ICE with another agency. Even then, he only said he was "open to the idea." So, half-lie at least, as I see it.

Alberta is passing on another lie, as I see it, in what O'Rourke said — or did not say — about drug legalization. Other than the non-verbal communication of having Willie Nelson at a campaign event, O'Rourke said nothing about legal recreational or medical marijuana. That's because he did nothing to advance that while in the House, even when he had a golden opportunity. Again, this is easily refuted.

(Part of how these things are refuted is by something called a "URL," which you see here but not so much in either of their pieces.)

Both are running with the "cause not a candidate" take on Beto. Both, in fact, led with that, one before the election, the other after. Maybe Plott's after piece cribbed from Alberta's before. Or maybe there's right-wing media coordination at a deeper level, working to infiltrate centrist punditry sites. And

Now, as a Green-leaner who called Beto a ConservaDem, I have no personal dog in a Beto 2020 hunt other than to confirm I'll be voting Green again if he gets the nod.

(Per the other attacks on O'Rourke, I actually support impeaching Trump, but not on seemingly nonexistent claims that he and Vladimir Putin colluded in the 2016 election.)

Alberta also has some degree of ignorance about Texas Hispanics, and in drawing comparisons to other states, is clearly totally ignorant about Spanish-Americans and Mexican-Americans in New Mexico, too.

Oh, and while David Axelrod may be right about Obama being a better campaigner than O'Rourke, Obama's political ideas weren't any better.

Both the National Review alums ignored entirely the flip-side take on the story: In a state where no Senate race had been within 10 points since the 80s, Ted Cruz had to "play Texas," per C.D. Hooks, to close the deal on his re-election. R.G. Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly also notes that Alberta's wrong on his campaign analysis. The Texas Trib also weighs in, quoting anonymous state GOPers to the effect that, if anything, it was Cruz who ran the worse campaign. It also directly refutes Alberta and Plott on one other claim of theirs, saying that O'Rourke's 254-county strategery WAS indeed a pretty direct appeal to GOPers.

The Trib also notes independent Jonathan Jenkins being kept off the ballot as a write-in, and questions of Cruz campaign chicanery there, also unnoted by Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

Another "tell" on the idea that both Plott and Alberta are engaged in hit jobs, and that this probably comes from higher ups? The implicit hints by Alberta, hugely spelled out by Plott, that O'Rourke was a "cause not a candidate":

Specifically on that, Plott:
“He was a cause, not a candidate,” a top Democratic strategist, who requested anonymity because of his involvement in current campaigns, told me. “He was anti-Trump, yes. But he struggled to articulate what that would mean for the people of Texas.”
Ted Cruz is an empty suit, per Hooks' piece. Nice try, Plott.

Sidebar: The Dem strategist is probably not only involved in current campaigns but looking to do some presidential honchoing in 2020, hence the anonymity.

I noted yesterday that a number of statewide Republicans not named Greg Abbott also had "baggage." In general, their baggage was worse than Cruz's unlikeableness. You have a bigot in Dan Patrick, a felony indictee in Ken Paxton, and a bigot plus an idiot in Sid Miller. Yet, O'Rourke still ran his race 3-4 percentage points closer than the Democratic challengers to them.

What I don't get is if Plott and Alberta, and the machinators behind them, really think O'Rourke ran a crappy campaign, why they've got the lying long knives out for him? Shouldn't they instead be following Hillary Clinton's thinking in 2016 and promoting O'Rourke as an easy to defeat candidate?

That makes this another "tell."

There's basically no path to the presidency for a Republican candidate who can't win Texas. O'Rourke in either the Prez or Veep slots in 2020 would be a serious issue for the Trump 2020 campaign, if he doesn't coronary out while in office.

I've called out reporters from BuzzFeed and from The Nation for fluff pieces on Beto. I'll call out hack jobs as well.

Speaking of, I've now also criticized and critiqued on Twitter BuzzFeed's Anne Helen Peterson's Beto post-mortem (she of the BuzzFeed critique by me above), above all for naively and uninformedly believing in the same "Hispanic demographic destiny" that appears to infect too many Texas and national Democratic apparatchiks. Most recently here, and most in-depth here, 5.5 years ago, when I predicted no Texas Dem would win a statewide race before 2020, which now stands proven, I explained just how badly uninformed, naive, and wishful this was.

This all said, Beto had a fairly narrow pathway. He made some decisions to campaign as a "cause" or a "brand" that ... were gambles. I think he should have worked more with the patróns of the Valley and the urban black power barons. I think he could have done this and balanced it with his rural crusade and his look for youth votes. It would have been tough. I also think he shouldn't have gratuitously kicked Bernie's S 1804, even if he didn't like Conyers' HR 676. Cruz and the Texas GOP were going to hang the "socialist" label on him no matter what. Look at Mutt and Jeff from National Review above spreading deliberate misinformation. But, he gave it a run.

And, in giving it a run, Beto did well over the alleged 45 percent ceiling that Alberta artificially assigned. (A couple of other Dems sneaked above that, too.)

This said, if either Plott or Alberta has another explainer besides winger politics as a camel's nose inside theoretically centrist opinion and analysis mags for what I'll still call hack jobs, hit me up.

Oh, if I haven't said so before? Atlantic continues to suck worse all the time. Politico has kind of always sucked.

Beyond that, both of these Millennial dumb fücks, as I see them, are clear examples of the Peter Principle among today's digital-first media, as I see it. Neither could run an actual traditional newspaper or small regional magazine to save their lives, I'm sure.

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