Beto O'Rourke: I'm open to a conversation about whether America can still be managed under its original principles

Isn’t this guy supposed to be the “centrist” in the race, the fake progressive trying to muscle in on Bernie’s turf?

Or is that the point of this answer, to yank the left’s nobs by showing that his zeal for upending the American order is such that he’s willing to go full reboot to do it?

I thought the worst we’d have to fear from these tools is 70 percent tax rates.

Throughout the two-hour interview — which was often interrupted by bystanders urging him to run for president — O’Rourke boomeranged between a bright-eyed hope that the United States will soon dramatically change its approach to a whole host of issues and a dismal suspicion that the country is now incapable of implementing sweeping change.

When asked which it is, O’Rourke paused.

“I’m hesitant to answer it because I really feel like it deserves its due, and I don’t want to give you a — actually, just selfishly, I don’t want a sound bite of it reported, but, yeah, I think that’s the question of the moment: Does this still work?” O’Rourke said. “Can an empire like ours with military presence in over 170 countries around the globe, with trading relationships . . . and security agreements in every continent, can it still be managed by the same principles that were set down 230-plus years ago?”

It sounds like he’s talking specifically about foreign policy there but WaPo’s reporter seems to be reading him more broadly than that (“a whole host of issues”). Two possible meanings. One: He thinks we’re badly overextended and need to return to first principles by taking a more realistic view of our priorities and capabilities.

He can’t mean that, though. Beto is a man of the left, if not as far left as Bernie. No leftist has ever wanted a return to first principles with respect to anything except leftism. Thus the second possible meaning: We need to revisit some of those first principles and revise or abandon the more troublesome ones.

Which, let’s face it, may be the Vox-iest thing a soon-to-be presidential candidate has ever said.

Elsewhere he chipped in with this:

He said he believes that the border is already fully secured and that further investment would take it even further “past the point of diminishing returns,” pushing migrants seeking to cross the border illegally into more dangerous and desolate territory.

“You will ensure death,” he said of Trump’s proposed wall. “You and I, as Americans, have caused the deaths of others through these walls.”

That’s an interesting line of thinking on causation. If the wall represents homicide with advance knowledge of the crime by Americans — murder, we might call it — then surely every form of border enforcement is homicide of some sort. The risk of being caught by the Border Patrol routinely leads illegals to try to enter the country via inhospitable terrain. To O’Rourke, that decision to chance it and tempt fate is your fault as an American, not the fault of the person across the border undertaking the journey. If you take him seriously here, he’s suggesting that deterrents to illegal immigration are immoral.

But maybe you shouldn’t take him seriously. Read WaPo’s story in full and you’ll see that the upshot is O’Rourke not (yet) wanting to take a position on various burning policy debates within the Democratic Party. He’s happy to demagogue the wall since that pits him against Trump but he’s a man in a precarious position in the coming primary. Centrists think he’s a centrist; many leftists think he’s a leftist. (Obama benefited from the same “blank screen” dynamic.) He doesn’t want to disabuse either group of its fantasy and risk losing any support. So for now he’s committed to farting out non-answers about how he wants a “debate” on everything, even America’s first principles. The answer I excerpted above that sounds so radical is probably just O’Rourke’s way of pandering to the far left without saying much of anything at all. All the idiots who want to pack the Court or amend the Constitution to give California more senators or whatever are Beto-curious right now. He’s just trying to nurture their curiosity with empty talk about whether “America still works.”

I think. But hey, what’s the worst that can happen if I’m wrong?

In lieu of an exit question, enjoy Kirsten “The Worst” Gillibrand holding Colbert’s hand while she announces her doomed presidential campaign tonight.