O’Rourke’s “extraordinary political success” is illusionary. His national popularity is contingent on aesthetics and mass of coverage. It is merely that Beto looks and acts like the type of guy producers at most cable news networks and talk shows think a senator should look and act like — unlike, say, Cruz (nearly two years older than Beto), who is always blathering about the Constitution and whatnot.
It’s not as if O’Rourke is a special talent by any measure. His speeches and talking points are just as vacuous and predictable as those of any other middling politician. His positions on guns and abortion — and a multitude of other issues — are in lockstep with his party, not the state. O’Rourke has never offered any substantively impressive policy ideas. He has not led on any notable issues in the House. He’s remarkably unremarkable.
There is talk that Beto’s showing makes him a young Barack Obama. It’s true that both men exhibit similar sensibilities. Then again, I remember Obama making his name opposing the Iraq War, something most of his party was scared to do. I remember him winning a Senate race.