That was the October plea of Jack Shafer in Politico Magazine following numerous adulatory stories on Beto O'Rourke in the press. Unfortunately, they did not heed his request, including his own colleagues at Politico, which continued with worship services at the Church of Beto even after his U.S. Senate election loss in Texas. Among those periodicals continuing the plethora of Beto paeans is the New York Times.
On February 6, the Times published a profile by Matt Flegenheimer of Beto's years in New York City in which he accomplished...stand by...basically nothing. This story is not to be confused with the other New York Times Beto story about appearing in Times Square for an interview with Oprah Winfrey of exactly one day earlier which was also written by Flegenheimer. A reader could be forgiven for wondering if Mr. Flegenheimer has been assigned to the Beto adulation beat at The New York Times.
Beto's lackluster New York years of doing nothing was covered in excruciatingly boring detail in "Beto O’Rourke Was Once Adrift in New York City. Now He’s Searching Again":
If there is a certain kind of New York story that successful people tell about themselves — the tenacious artists, grinding until they get discovered; the downtown capitalists, rat-racing into the One Percent — Mr. O’Rourke’s is not one of those.
While past political figures, most memorably a young Barack Obama, found their intellectual moorings among the city’s thinkers and strivers, Mr. O’Rourke’s seven New York years (four at Columbia University and three after graduation) were, in his own telling, often an exercise in recognizing his own averageness. He loved music but came to see he was not talented enough to hit it big. He thought he might pursue publishing but struggled to break in. He was intimidated by the intelligence of his peers.
...At the age when many would-be presidential rivals had long since chosen their course, zipping through law school and storming into politics, Mr. O’Rourke was paying $130 a month to share a 2,000-square-foot loft with creative types in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (Downsides of the bargain included D.I.Y. bedroom construction and indoor temperatures so low that tenants could see their own breath.) ...He seemed like any other punk-minded student: Jawbox T-shirt, hair past his shoulders and a grim insistence that the Smashing Pumpkins had grown pretentious.
Ah! One of the great debates of that era; And here's what The Times wrote about whether the Smashing Pumpkins had grown pretentious:
Most memories were happier ones. Live music pounded until dawn. Housemates gathered on a rooftop trampoline, recovered from the set of a Busta Rhymes music video, to watch the sun sail past the Twin Towers. Mr. O’Rourke found work moving fine art for a company called Hedley’s Humpers — a Picasso here, a samurai sword there — and the apartment remained a neighborhood hub for creativity and mind-calming indulgence.
“Pot, yeah, there was definitely, you know,” Mr. O’Rourke said. “There was, uh, I don’t know how to put this, but yeah. People smoked pot, but not habitually.” (He allowed that he was among those people.)
Living in a pot haze chock full of ennui.
Finally we come to the momentous event that caused him to leave New York and embark on his life's mission of seemingly eternal candidacy:
The New York dream was punctured for good, like many before and since, on the rails of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Mr. O’Rourke was commuting to the Bronx for an entry-level publishing job, “smashed up against the glass” of a packed subway car.
He thought about El Paso open spaces, El Paso food, El Paso family.
“I just had this vision of being in my truck with the windows down,” he said. “I remember calling my folks that night, and I said, ‘Hey, I think I’m going to come back.’”
Mr. O’Rourke bought a truck on Long Island for $1,000 and packed his New York life away. He said his goodbyes and drove.
And the world responded with a big yawn as we anxiously await the next Beto profile chapter about him pondering what to do with his life.
Back to the Beto redux keyboard for you, Mr. Flegenheimer.