The DWI was common knowledge already but his alleged attempt to flee the scene was not.
Seriously, though, you know how Beto is forever being compared to the Kennedys? Turns out they’re more alike than anyone knew.
A Texas Department of Public Safety report on the incident was based on a motorist’s description of O’Rourke’s dark-colored Volvo passing him quickly about 3 a.m. on I-10. The Anthony Police Department and DPS reports differ as to whether O’Rourke was heading east or west on the interstate, but both agree that he struck a truck going in the same direction and crossed a grassy median into the opposite lanes.
Police said O’Rourke then attempted to leave the scene but was stopped by the same motorist he had just passed. The unidentified motorist “then turned on his overhead lights to warn oncoming traffic and to try to get the defendant (O’Rourke) to stop,” the report says.
The DPS report described O’Rourke as having “glossy” eyes, slurred speech, smelling of liquor, and almost falling to the ground as he got out of his car.
He blew in the range of .135 on the police breathalyzer when the state’s legal limit was .08. He was hauled in for DWI — but charges were dismissed when he completed a “diversion program” approved by the court. It helps to have a dad who was a judge at the time in El Paso, I guess:
I hesitate to bring up youthful DUIs (see: Greatest Living President). But the question does have to be asked whether you or I– not the son of influential local judges– could drunk drive, hit a truck, spin into incoming traffic, try to run, and end up with charges dismissed.
— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) August 31, 2018
Endgame for his Senate bid, right? Well, maybe not. Dubya’s career path proves that you can still rise to the highest office in the land with a DWI on your record, although (a) that revelation nearly cost him the presidency in 2000 and (b) there was never any allegation that Bush tried to leave the scene. Kyle Smith of NRO says Beto’s dunzo:
I mean, if you're a Texan, you spend A LOT of time driving around thinking about just this kind of thing. Maybe all you New Yorkers and DC people don't know this. This will stick. He is done.
— Kyle Smith (@rkylesmith) August 31, 2018
I find the idea of any political career being ended by scandal instantaneously in the Trump era almost poignant in its quaintness. Duncan Hunter is under federal indictment and led by nearly 10 points in a poll taken *after* the indictment was announced, for fark’s sake. There’s no question that if O’Rourke were running in a blue state his attempt to abscond from a drunk-driving smash-up would scarcely register in his numbers. As it is, he won’t lose a single Democratic vote over this in Texas, particularly with lefties swooning that he may have an Obama-esque national future ahead of him. His problem is that Texas isn’t a blue state and centrists there might be actively looking for reasons to follow their right-leaning inclinations by rejecting him, however ambivalent they may be towards Cruz. This story just handed them one. It won’t change many minds, but in a tight race it doesn’t need to in order to affect the outcome.
But maybe it won’t matter even in Texas. How a Beto-curious but otherwise right-leaning Texas independent will approach something like this is hard to say. Maybe that voter shrugs and concludes that, post-Trump, personal scandal simply isn’t fair game for ruling out a political candidate. I’ve linked this before but it’s worth revisiting:
Americans generally were much more likely in 2016 than they were five years earlier to say that an immoral act in one’s personal life is no disqualification from holding office. The Republican base of white evangelicals was waaaaay more likely to say so. That’s the “Trump effect” in action, with GOPers scrambling to justify their support for him by abandoning their Clinton-era position that character is destiny in politicians (and everyone else). The Beto-absconded scandal is interesting in that it raises two follow-up questions. One: Are Republicans willing to extend the same indifference towards personal scandal towards a Democrat whom they may find “interesting,” or is it a pure partisan excuse for letting Republican pols off the hook? (Probably the latter.) And two: How “immoral” does a personal failing need to be before it can’t be excused? We’re not talking about Beto having an affair here. We’re talking about him trying to flee criminal responsibility for an accident in which someone might have been hurt. There are legal implications, not just moral ones.
He told the NYT recently that he has no desire to be president, but that’s what they all say when they’re trying to climb the ladder to statewide office. If it doesn’t work out in Texas, he can always move to Massachusetts, start drunk-driving again, and be a senator there for the next 75 years.