This made me think of that famous Edwin Edwards quote, “The only way I can lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy,” just because O’Rourke would have an easier time explaining either of those scenarios to the left than explaining why he used to support entitlement reform.
He has two options now. One: Publish a hastily written statement pledging allegiance to Modern Monetary Theory or some similar progressive horsesh*t. Two: Switch to the GOP and primary Trump. He probably wouldn’t do worse than four or five percent of the vote in a Republican primary, as that’s roughly the share of righties who still believe in cutting spending.
Maybe he should pitch this to the Democratic base as a good news/bad news thing. “The good news is that I do have some bold policy ideas. The bad news is…”
“Social Security, the people who paid into social security and who are earning their checks back from investment in social security, that needs to be protected. That’s inviolable. But going forward for future generations, for my kids’ generation, five, three, and one year old. Right now, we need to look at things like means testing,” O’Rourke said [in 2012]…
“There are certainly places in the federal budget where we have to look at reorganizing, where we have to look at cutting,” he said [in 2012]. “And we really don’t have a choice. You have a $16 trillion debt. We’re running $1 trillion annual deficits and we cannot continue to spend ourselves into ruin. We need to elect people who are gonna go up there and make some tough choices.”…
“Are cuts important over the long term?” O’Rourke said. “Absolutely. You have kids, I have kids, as we have, uh, as our kids have kids, um, their ability and options and opportunities in life are going to be significantly curtailed if we don’t get our national debt under control because every dollar they pay in, in taxes is going to go right out to China or to someone else who’s financing our extravagant government.”
Especially striking are his repeated references to the burden that’d be placed on his kids if spending continued unchecked, a point commonly heard among political activists at the time — on the right. “We look at the Simpson-Bowles Commission that is comprehensively taking a look at all of these issues and offering up some tough choices that Congress at some point is going to have to make,” said O’Rourke in 2012, “or we can continue to look the other way and just say, ‘You know what? It sucks, but I’m going to let my kids pick up the mess.’ I’m not willing to do that.” Said James Antle, not missing a beat, “To go from this kind of talk in 2012 to wanting massive deficit spending and government growth in 2019, the guy must think he’s a Tea Partier or something.”
O’Rourke’s going to answer questions about this, I assume, by stressing that he ran as a liberal in Texas last year despite the fact that the state’s red tilt gave him every incentive to double down on fiscal conservatism. That should be proof enough of his ideological commitment, just in case his recent support for the Green New Deal and universal health coverage hasn’t already reassured lefties that he’s one of them. What will sting about this line of attack, though, is that it reinforces a narrative about Beto that already exists, namely that he can’t be trusted to forcefully prosecute the progressive agenda if elected. It’s the Democratic version of Republican apprehension about Mitt Romney’s brand of “severe conservatism” circa 2012. Yeah, fine, O’Rourke’s a left-winger *today.* What was he yesterday? What will he be tomorrow?
At least you know where you stand with Bernie Sanders. Is President Beto really going to do the hard work of twisting arms in Congress on behalf of Medicare for All or will he endorse some lukewarm version of a public option for ObamaCare and call it a day? Why would lefties trust the guy who was preaching about generational theft in the context of spending cuts seven years ago to go big on socialism when given the opportunity?
His staff told CNN regarding the old quotes that Beto didn’t support raising the Social Security retirement age at the time, he was merely suggesting that Congress might. I’m sure the Berniebros will buy it. Speaking of which, a new poll from CNN tonight has a bit of good news for O’Rourke and a bit of bad for Sanders:
Former Vice President Joe Biden (28%) and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (20%) continue to hold the top slots in the large Democratic field. Harris now stands at 12% support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, up from 4% in December, and the latest entrant to the field — former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke — stands at 11%…
Asked directly whether Democrats have a better chance with Sanders at the top of the ticket or someone else facing off against Trump, 56% of Democratic leaners say the party’s chances are better without Sanders. Asked the same about Biden, 51% say the party has a better shot with Biden than without him.
Harris is the big gainer in the poll, up eight points, but double digits is better than what O’Rourke has done in other polls and 20 percent isn’t a great figure for Sanders (although it’s a six-point gain since CNN’s December survey). Right now Bernie’s favorable rating among all adults is just 46/43, down from 51/35 in December. Being the socialist in the Democratic primary isn’t all upside, despite all the hype about the party’s leftward drift. If Democratic voters become convinced that Bernie’s a liability in the general election — and it sounds here like that narrative is already taking hold — then even some Sanders-friendly primary voters will look elsewhere. Although probably not to the guy who was ready to start playing around with Social Security during his first congressional run seven years ago.
Here he is doing a little light pandering on the trail today.
— Kailani Koenig (@kailanikm) March 19, 2019