I invite you to join in the chatterati’s amusement this afternoon by dipping into this, a Kerouac-style stream-of-consciousness musing that would have you believe that this suddenly formidable presidential contender is about to hit the road at the start of primary season just because he’s “in a funk” and need to clear his head ‘n stuff. As one does, you see.
You’ve been there. In a rut at work, feeling cooped up at home. The only cure is to hit the open road. Maybe chronicle your very authentic daily interactions with workin’ folks as you contemplate a national campaign. And then wait as a hundred reporters and 50,000 fans eagerly promote it to their own audiences.
I said on Twitter earlier that Beto should have live-streamed his advisors as they huddled around the computer and ghost-wrote this dreck for him. To which a smart friend responded, “I feel like Beto is actually writing those [posts] and thinks they’re good. Which is worse imo.” Decide for yourself which scenario is grimmer.
A lot of big trucks rolling down Pancake Blvd and there aren’t any sidewalks. Gloomy early morning sky in Liberal Kansas. Snow melt on the side of the road where I’m running. I find a vacant lot to cut through to another street, also busy and without sidewalks. I finally get to a smaller road that goes past a mobile home park, then a small subdivision, and out into corn fields to my right and empty fields to my left…
Have been stuck lately. In and out of a funk. My last day of work was January 2nd. It’s been more than twenty years since I was last not working. Maybe if I get moving, on the road, meet people, learn about what’s going on where they live, have some adventure, go where I don’t know and I’m not known, it’ll clear my head, reset, I’ll think new thoughts, break out of the loops I’ve been stuck in..
It goes on and on from there. This guy wants you — or someone much more naive — to believe that he’s heading out an earnest journey of discovery, not a transparently strategic publicity tour aimed at polishing up his grassroots cred before he announces.
Beto O’Rourke has left Texas, decamping for a highly anticipated road trip, but his former advisers are quietly sketching the outline of a potential presidential run that would replicate — and on a national scale — the grassroots-driven organizing model O’Rourke employed in his Texas Senate campaign…
[I]n talks with Democratic strategists, Bond and David Wysong, O’Rourke’s former longtime chief of staff, have discussed ways for O’Rourke to expand the “distributed organizing” form of field operations used by Sanders in 2016 and replicated by O’Rourke last year — with the campaign training low-level staffers and volunteers to orchestrate their own, phone banking, text and email operations.
Nothing like taking to the asphalt, free as a bird, while your team of well-paid strategists brainstorms about “distributed organizing” back home. Reading his post, it occurred to me that this fake-diary format, replete with Beto dropping the subject from his sentences to suggest that he’s jotting these thoughts down in real time as quickly as they occur to him, is the print equivalent of his Instagram habit. Both here and there, he’s engaged in a highly calculated simulation of intimacy. With Instagram, he takes you inside his kitchen. With his Medium posts, he takes you inside his head … as he bullsh*ts you to your face about the ostensible purpose of this humble American tour he’s about to embark on.
The media’s been verrrrrry pro-Beto until now. Is that changing? There’s some snark from media types about his post on Twitter and WaPo’s account of the interview I blogged last night wasn’t flattering, emphasizing how doggedly he dodged questions. Nate Silver thinks that was inevitable, as it’s the nature of presidential horse-race coverage not to let anyone get too far ahead:
That seems like a weird interpretation of Beto's quote, but one thing for sure is that Beto's media coverage is turning from quite gushingly positive to quite cheeky and harsh. https://t.co/UClRZB1ECm
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) January 16, 2019
But it's also just the cycles that media coverage takes in the primaries, which sometimes entrenches frontrunner status but more often seeks to challenge and undercut it, a bit like how in Mario Kart the AI makes you slip on a banana peel when you're too far ahead.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) January 16, 2019
Could be. The press wants a real race for the nomination. Beto’s early polling has been surprisingly strong so they’re taking him down a peg. But don’t forget that lefties have been jabbing at him lately about not being as progressive as advertised. And O’Rourke’s shtick is bound to have worn a bit thinner with the media over time, for the reasons I described above. It’s hard to meet the media’s expectations for what “the new Obama” might sound like.
Via Mediaite, here’s Brianna Keilar of CNN sounding underwhelmed.