Bye-bye, Beto. Well, the self-serving political show-off known to Karl Rove in his Wall Street Journal commentaries as Robert Francis O’Rourke, of El Paso, Texas (“Roberto” in Español = “Beto”). Texans rejected his latest overtures and entreaties, re-electing Republican Governor Greg Abbott by an 11 percent margin on November 8. The margin ought to have been larger, given Beto’s lack of serviceable credentials, and it would have been, save for all the outside money and media fawning that came Beto’s way.
Still, 11 percent did the job. It finished, in Texas at least, Beto’s career of self-promotion, removing him from the reach of the credulous and naïve. At least I hope so! What a political savior: at 50, still cheerily and cheesily juvenile, always with the chest-thumping rhetoric, the abstract claim to political ideas that, as long as they stay abstract, never get down to proof or execution, ready to occupy any large political vacancy, from president to senator to governor. An internet mockup I saw after the election sums up his capacity for personal aspiration. In it, Beto introduces himself to the people of Louisiana. He’s now “Betaux”!
The people of Louisiana, having sent Huey P. Long to the governor’s mansion and the US Senate, may be reckoned as knowing something about political demagoguery. But the Beto O’Rourke style has an inflationary quality characteristic of modern times: that is, wholly self-focused and, accordingly, empty, noisy for the love of noise. Does it remind you of presidents you have latterly known? Let that pass for now.
Democracy, as we know, has its perils as well as its wonders. It fails (because how could a political system do otherwise?) to guarantee integrity or wisdom or decency or even warm faith in the society benefiting supposedly from its revels. The integrity and wisdom of the people themselves, when allowed freely to operate, is, theoretically, the motive power behind any success democracy may be said to exhibit.
But along come the likes of Robert Francis O’Rourke, pandering to the uninspired tastes of a self-regarding society he himself resembles. When he falters, after fervent attempts to sell his bedraggled wares, the non-self-regarding members of that society are entitled to say — whew! Could have happened, but it didn’t. Somehow.
As for next time? Powerful is habit. You get used to seeing and hearing the Betos and even presidents who shall for now be nameless, and you start, with the encouragement of the Beto class, to redefine normality. Education may not be the dispositive factor that Socrates believed it to be, but you can easily get the idea that we need more of it than we nowadays have. And less internet. And just less propagandizing in general, as opposed to earnest and intelligent discussion.
Well, don’t laugh. Got any better ideas?