Late Wednesday afternoon and hours ahead of announcing a presidential campaign to El Paso’s NBC affiliate, lefty-wing rag Vanity Fair published a profile of liberal former Congressman Beto O’Rourke that rivaled some of the worst Obama hero worshipping during the 2008 campaign by devotees such as Lee Cowan, Chris Matthews, and Terry Moran.
With Beto, the child-like Beto worshippers for the magazine’s April issue were writer Joe Hagan and photographer Annie Leibovitz. So congratulations, or something.
All told, the slobbering love note was over 8,600 words, so NewsBusters read the monstrosity so you didn’t have to.
Without any further adieu, here are the worst excerpts, presented in chronological order.
What Is This? A Movie?
Hagan began with this eye-rolling take: “It’s nine P.M. on a Thursday night and Beto O’Rourke is trying to manage a couple of life-altering and possibly world-historical political events while also driving his family home from a Mexican restaurant.”
It only got worse as Hagan described O’Rourke’s book shelf that offered “some reflection on the gravity of the presidency” while O’Rouke himself possessed an “aura” and “preternatural ease” about himself (click “expand,” emphasis mine):
Behind the door, in the O’Rourke living room, a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf contains a section for rock memoirs (Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, a favorite) and a stack of LPs (the Clash, Nina Simone) but also a sizable collection of presidential biographies, including Robert Caro’s work on Lyndon B. Johnson. Arranged in historical order, the biographies suggest there’s been some reflection on the gravity of the presidency. But there’s also some political poetry to it, a sense that O’Rourke might be destined for this shelf. He has an aura. Most places he goes in El Paso, he’s dogged by cries of “Beto! Beto!” Oprah Winfrey, who helped anoint Barack Obama in 2008, practically begged him to run at an event in New York City at the beginning of February.
Settling into an armchair in his living room, he tries to make sense of his rise. “I honestly don’t know how much of it was me,” he says. “But there is something abnormal, super-normal, or I don’t know what the hell to call it, that we both experience when we’re out on the campaign trail.”
O’Rourke and his wife, Amy, an educator nine years his junior, both describe the moment they first witnessed the power of O’Rourke’s gift. It was in Houston, the third stop on O’Rourke’s two-year Senate campaign against Ted Cruz. “Every seat was taken, every wall, every space in the room was filled with probably a thousand people,” recalls Amy O’Rourke. “You could feel the floor moving almost. It was not totally clear that Beto was what everybody was looking for, but just like that people were so ready for something. So that was totally shocking. I mean, like, took-my-breath-away shocking.”
For O’Rourke, what followed was a near-mystical experience. “I don’t ever prepare a speech,” he says. “I don’t write out what I’m going to say. I remember driving to that, I was, like, ‘What do I say? Maybe I’ll just introduce myself. I’ll take questions.’ I got in there, and I don’t know if it’s a speech or not, but it felt amazing. Because every word was pulled out of me. Like, by some greater force, which was just the people there. Everything that I said, I was, like, watching myself, being like, How am I saying this stuff? Where is this coming from?
“There’s something that happens to me,” he says, “or that I get to be a part of in those rooms, that is not like normal life. I don’t know if that has ever happened to me before. I don’t know if that would happen again.”
Whether onstage or on Facebook Live or in person, O’Rourke has a preternatural ease.
A few days before Trump arrives, while meeting with students at the University of Texas at El Paso, O’Rourke compares the battle against Trump to “every epic movie that you’ve ever seen, from Star Wars to The Lord of the Rings. This is the moment where we’re going to win or lose everything.” O’Rourke likes to think in such mythic terms. As he quipped on the campaign trail, he named his son Ulysses because “I didn’t have the balls to call him Odysseus.”
And before starting with an extended biography, Hagan described O’Rourke’s open borders views as “local globalism” he inherited from his father. Yes really.
Who Cares What His Ex-Girlfriends Think?
Yes, Hagan spoke with ex-girlfriends of O’Rourke and his Bohemian early 20s (click “expand,” emphasis mine):
Former girlfriends describe O’Rourke as curious, wry, bookish but adventurous. He usually carried a novel in his pocket, whether Captain Corelli’s Mandolin or The Sun Also Rises. Maggie Asfahani, an El Paso native who dated O’Rourke while he was at prep school and college, said he was somewhat difficult to know. “That’s kind of the mystique of Beto, is that he seems to be accessible,” she says, “but there’s just this layer of protection. I don’t think it’s because he’s hiding anything. I think it’s because he’s keeping a part of it to himself.”
After he graduated in 1995, O’Rourke and his friends moved to Albuquerque and rented a house formerly occupied by a Swedish ski team. They all shaved their heads and declared this their “Revolution Summer,” an homage to the D.C. punk scene of 1984. The idea was to live on part-time jobs and make art. They formed a band called the Swedes, donning motorcycle helmets and waving the Swedish flag onstage.
O’Rourke objects to a New York Times story published in February that he believes painted him as aimless and depressed in New York. He describes the time as one of joyous indirection in which he surrounded himself with “some amazing artists and thinkers.”
“I was waking up in time to go to work, because I had stayed up so late, playing music, having fun, dancing, just being alive,” O’Rourke says.
Again, who does this guy think he is? A character from Fast Times at Ridgemont High?
‘Endurance-Athlete Campaigner’ Has ‘Independent Voice’; Crafted ‘Performance Art’ Senate Bid
Hagan eventually wound his way to Beto’s first House campaign in 2012 and then his Senate bid in 2018. Even though he noted in lengthy detail O’Rourke’s 1998 DWI incident, the fleeting moment of sobriety was quickly shifted back to one of euphoria.
Here are excerpts from Hagan discussing his campaign (click “expand,” emphasis mine):
This was the first look at Beto O’Rourke the endurance-athlete campaigner, tirelessly knocking on roughly 16,000 doors.
He would come to dislike Washington. O’Rourke tried defining himself as an independent voice in Congress, willing to buck party orthodoxy.
He even hired two forward-thinking field strategists from the Sanders campaign. O’Rourke drew inspiration from punk rock, everything stripped of artifice. “I haven’t seen a candidate who has just shared what’s on their mind and spoken as honestly and directly, without interference from consultants and pollsters, as we’re doing right now,” he told documentary filmmaker Steve Mims early in the campaign.
Promising to visit every county in Texas, he ran his campaign as a marathon of live-streamed political performance art—road-tripping with a Republican congressman with an iPhone on his dashboard for 36 hours; air-drumming to the Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” while waiting for burgers at a drive-through the night he debated Ted Cruz at Southern Methodist University. O’Rourke came off as free of political calculation, as if his charisma were a mere side effect of Beto just being Beto.
The tipping point was when O’Rourke gave an extemporaneous monologue defending black N.F.L. players who took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality. Now This News packaged it into a viral video, and it rocketed O’Rourke to the national stage. CNN broadcast one of his town-hall meetings and O’Rourke’s crowds ballooned. Donor contributions poured in, peaking at $80 million, the most for any Senate campaign in U.S. history. The expanding press pack became more aggressive “to the point where they were knocking the kids and I out of the way to get to Beto,” recalls Amy O’Rourke.
On Election Night, O’Rourke and his wife were certain they were going to beat Cruz, even if polls showed other-wise. One man had flown home from Seattle to vote before polls closed. How could they lose?
‘I’m Just Born to Be in It’; Here’s the Sufferable Ending NO ONE Asked for
Hagan’s ending has already been mocked mercilessly on Twitter and deservedly so. Whether it was a Norman Rockwell-esque description of when Hagan first met him or Hagan gushing to him that he’s “simply too normal” of a person to be President (yet “a hero for our time” who couldn’t “deny the pull of his own gifts”), nothing could top the final few graphs.
Ready or not, here’s the worst parts of the profile that, should O’Rourke become the Democratic nominee and/or defeat Trump to become president, the liberal media will christen this as a new Gospel (click “expand,” emphasis mine):
The first time I meet Beto O’Rourke, he’s lounging on the front veranda of his house on a Sunday afternoon, barefoot in blue jeans and T-shirt, talking on his cell phone. O’Rourke had stopped speaking to the press—he was still kicking himself for giving a damaging interview to The Washington Post, which quoted his prescription for immigration as “I don’t know”—but he nonetheless waved over a prying reporter and invited me inside to meet his wife and children. His son Henry had a fever, and Amy had fallen asleep on the couch while Dora the Explorer flickered on the TV. There was a Stan Getz LP on the turntable and a plate of homemade scones in the kitchen.
O’Rourke experienced a post-election depression like the one he had when he beat Reyes in 2012. He had lost weight, his joints ached, and a stress fracture in his foot curtailed his running regimen.
His biggest strength, of course, is his unique credibility as a voice on immigration.
For some, O’Rourke can still seem politically indistinct, even slippery, but that may be part of his strategy.
Beto O’Rourke is selling the idea that he can unite the country by playing nice with the kind of people he met in rural Texas on his Senate campaign: middle Americans who had barely met a Democrat, let alone considered voting for one. But O’Rourke also sells a kind of cult of personality of his own, offering himself as the David to Trump’s Goliath, a folk hero for our time. He acknowledges that what has made Trump successful is also what has made him successful—an outsider who “bent the media to his campaign,” as he puts it.
But unlike Trump, O’Rourke can appear almost too innocent to be a politician—too decent, too wholesome, the very reason he became popular also the same reason he could be crucified on the national stage. I tell O’Rourke that perhaps he’s simply too normal to be president. “Whether you meant it or not, I take that as a compliment,” he says.
I ask O’Rourke if he could see himself among the presidential biographies on his shelf—Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy. “I haven’t really thought about that,” he says. “I think, ego-wise, we’re going to be O.K. if we don’t run.”
Beto O’Rourke seems, in this moment, like a cliff diver trying to psych himself into the jump. And after playing coy all afternoon about whether he’ll run, he finally can’t deny the pull of his own gifts. “You can probably tell that I want to run,” he finally confides, smiling. “I do. I think I’d be good at it.”
“This is the fight of our lives,” he continues, “not the fight-of-my-political-life kind of crap.
But, like, this is the fight of our lives as Americans, and as humans, I’d argue.”
The more he talks, the more he likes the sound of what he’s saying. “I want to be in it,” he says, now leaning forward. “Man, I’m just born to be in it, and want to do everything I humanly can for this country at this moment.”
If you’ve read to the bottom of this post, congratulations and get used to it as it’s certainly more idolatrous pieces will be forthcoming about Beto and his fellow 2020 Democrats.