Pro: He has found a searing and even eloquent way of cutting through the madness and violence of the age. The real obscenity, by these lights, is routine mass shootings and the paralytic response they engender from the governing class, to which O’Rourke’s incredulity is a powerfully authentic rejoinder.
Con: O’Rourke’s profanity is risible, a perfect summary of a campaign that even before was mocked for its alleged preening and Wayne’s World affect. Even if the first time he dropped the F-bomb came as a genuine outburst, his repetition on Twitter and now official campaign T-shirts reveals calculation and contrivance—making his vulgarities the opposite of the authenticity they supposedly convey.
Either way, the Texan’s coarse language is a frivolous dimension of a serious question for Democrats: Should progressive leaders confront the rawness and norm-shattering nature of President Donald Trump’s political style with something similar? Or should they stand for a return to standards that used to be assumed for any presidential contender—including language reflecting the gravity of the office, or at a minimum was G-rated?