Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
Let me state the obvious: I am no fan of former Representative Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D-TX 16th District). A fourth generation American of Irish descent, he used his nickname to pretend to be Hispanic; perhaps like another Democratic politician of some fame — and more success — he’s actually 1/1024 Hispanic.
His political positions? His Senate campaign website, which is still active, doesn’t provide much specificity on the issues, but is mostly a series of platitudes. During the 2018 campaign, when a lot of Democrats had the courage to advocate “Medicare for All”, Mr O’Rourke didn’t have that kind of nerve. Of course, he knew that wouldn’t be a winner in the Lone Star State, but what does it matter; he didn’t win with what he was doing. Project Vote Smart said that Mr O’Rourke “has refused to provide voters with positions on key issues covered by the 2018 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart and voters like you,” and while it had a basic list of his positions, it indicated that they were inferred¹ from other sources rather than from direct answers.
If the positions Vote Smart inferred are the correct ones for Mr O’Rourke, it’s no wonder he kept them quiet; they weren’t exactly winners in Texas!
But if I am not a fan of Mr O’Rourke’s, that still doesn’t justify the racist rant of CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson concerning his potential 2020 presidential candidacy:
Analysis by Nia-Malika Henderson, Senior Political Reporter² | Updated 8:29 AM ET | Saturday, January 19, 2019
(CNN)Imagine this: A 46-year-old former congresswoman and mother of three, who just lost a Senate bid to one of the most despised incumbents, sets off on a road trip adventure to clear her head.
She instagrams part of her trip to the dentist. She gives a two-hour interview to The Washington Post where she shows no real knowledge of policy.
Like a first-year college student, she pontificates on whether the Constitution is still a thing that matters after all these many years.
I will spare you Miss Henderson’s analysis of Mr O’Rourke’s “navel-gazing,” as she called it, primarily because she’s right about that: Mr O’Rourke’s Instagrams are the stuff of tumblr personal blogs, not anything serious. My response to his silly dentist Instagram was sheer mockery:
— Dana Pico (@Dana_TFSJ) January 10, 2019
But that’s when Miss Henderson veered off into the woods of sexism:
This could never, ever be a woman.
Why? Can a woman not be as silly as a man? She might be right that no serious female candidate would try Mr O’Rourke’s stupidity, but, then again, there’s nothing that says his tumblrina-style stuff will be at all effective; Miss Henderson simply assumes that it won’t hurt him.
We’ve seen the field fill up already with women. And we’ve seen how they think they must run — as serious, surefooted, policy experts with big ideas. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard are in; and on the same day as O’Rourke’s emo-essay, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced that she feels “called at this moment to make a difference.”
One of the first questions she got was about her likability, because of course she did.
Well, yes: when the previous Democratic presidential nominee was unlikable enough that she lost to Donald Trump, that she lost an election she was supposedly guaranteed to win, and Senator Warren has already been spoken about as having a likability problem, the question is at least reasonable.
And, following the sexism, Miss Henderson adds a dash of racism:
O’Rourke, 46, we are told, is “Obama, but white,” because of his fundraising prowess — he raised nearly $80 million in his loss to Sen. Ted Cruz. He skateboards! He listens! He connects on the internet!
So, Miss Henderson is upset that Mr O’Rourke is a white male. Got it!
And Jack Kerouac-style, he roams around, jobless (does he not need a job?) to find himself and figure out if he wants to lead the free world. This is a luxury no woman or even minority in politics could ever have.
How odd; didn’t the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, a woman if memory serves, have the luxury of roaming around jobless for four years deciding whether to run for president? Mr O’Rourke will have been jobless for a bit under two years when the 2020 elections roll around.
Given that Mr O’Rourke comes from a wealthy family and his net worth is estimated to be $8.9 million, no, he doesn’t need a job. Given that I was able to find those facts through a Google search that returned 231,000 links in 0.48 second, it seems a bit lacking in journalistic integrity for Miss Henderson to have snarked the question.
Then again, I never particularly thought Miss Henderson had any journalistic integrity.
But O’Rourke, tall, handsome, white and male, has this latitude, to be and do anything. His privilege even allows him to turn a loss to the most despised candidate of the cycle into a launching pad for a White House run.
Stacey Abrams, a Yale-trained lawyer, couldn’t do this.
Well, no, she couldn’t: She is deeply in debt, including $54,852 in unpaid back taxes. The privilege of being an attorney with an Ivy League pedigree — isn’t that about as much ‘privilege’ as Mr O’Rourke has? — hasn’t made her wealthy, due to her own career choices.
O’Rourke is being criticized for his randomness. For his TMI’ing and for his “what do I want to do with my life” aimlessness.
But the fact that he knows he has the freedom to cast about as a campaign-in-waiting forms, shows how much of his political identity is predicated on being white and male.
And this is the crux of Miss Henderson’s ‘analysis:’ Mr O’Rourke is a white male, who may, or may not, run for President. Thus far, all of the serious announced Democratic candidates are female, and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), who is expected to announce her candidacy soon, is black. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) is male, but is also black, so his candidacy, if it occurs, probably won’t offend Miss Henderson.
But a white male running, even if he seems like a long shot? Now that has her dander up!
Miss Henderson’s ‘analysis’ is so obviously racist and sexist that it’s a wonder that editors at CNN didn’t pull it. Instead, they paid her to write it! I think that says a lot about CNN.
¹ – Candidate refused to address this issue directly, but Vote Smart inferred this issue position based on the candidate’s public statements, voting record, and evaluations from special interest groups.
² – CNN’s biography of Miss Henderson states, “Nia-Malika Henderson is a senior political reporter for CNN, reporting on politics, policies, and people shaping Washington.”
Cross-posted on The First Street Journal.