Matt Viser, deputy Washington bureau chief of the Boston Globe, penned a nauseatingly flattering profile of Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat challenging Ted Cruz for his Texas Senate seat in November, in the September issue of Town & Country, a lifestyle magazine for the well-off.
The headline deck: “Why So Many People Are Betting on Beto O'Rourke -- He's a Kennedyesque longshot in a roiling red state, but the Democrat from Texas just might have a chance at unseating Ted Cruz.”
The Kennedy mystique may be tarnished in the public’s eyes during the current #MeToo movement, but Viser made no mention of the darker side of the Kennedy clan. His opening anecdote proved some liberals are still star struck by Kennedys after all this time:
Just after he was elected to Congress in 2012, Beto O’Rourke was in a bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with several other newly elected pals. A woman came up, looked at O’Rourke, and said, “Are you who I think you are?”
He had just won a long-shot race for a House seat that had garnered some national attention, so he said yes, he thought he probably was who she thought he was. She pulled him over to her table to meet her friends. They gave him high-fives and started taking pictures.
“It dawns on me: They don’t think I’m Beto, they think I’m Joe Kennedy, or at least some Kennedy,” O’Rourke says. Finally he confessed, “'I’m not who you think I am. I’m Beto. From El Paso.’ I could just see the thrill go out of their eyes.”
Luckily, the real Joe Kennedy was nearby, so O’Rourke went back to the table and grabbed him to come pose for some photos.
“Beto is often referred to as the best-looking Kennedy in Washington,” says Joe Kennedy, who is now close enough friends with O’Rourke to have borrowed his dress shirt one time when he arrived at an event while covered in coffee stains. “Which wouldn’t be so bad if I weren’t standing right next to him when it happens.”
Six years after that encounter at the bar, O’Rourke is running a U.S. Senate campaign a world away, in Texas -- a race that resembles one run by another Kennedy. It’s not just the toothy grin, the tall stature, and the shock of hair swept over his brow. With a disdain for highly paid consultants, a willingness to travel to unexpected places, and an inspiring message for an extraordinarily divided electorate, it’s hard to look at O’Rourke and not think of Bobby Kennedy in 1968.
....He resumes talking about his unlikely path to a political career that could include one of the more shocking wins of a shock-filled political era....Can a guy who looks like a Kennedy, and often sounds like one, too, win a statewide election in Texas?
Viser gushed over the gusty underdog.
....He has a small staff, with no paid speechwriter or pollster. He has eschewed the large donations from political action committees that can quickly fill a campaign account, and still he has outraised Cruz during most fundraising cycles....O’Rourke’s campaign pins bear a striking resemblance to ones Bobby Kennedy used in his 1968 presidential campaign. And his campaign stops include speaking at the same hotel in Fort Worth where President John F. Kennedy delivered some of his last remarks before he was shot in Dallas.
He could not let go of the Kennedy angle.
Like that of the Kennedys, O’Rourke’s oratory is often focused on appealing to the hopefulness of the electorate....
After O’Rourke offensively compared current border controversies to the 1939 decision to turn back a German liner with Jewish passengers on board, there was more Kennedyesque hagiography.
As O’Rourke left the stage, the evening’s master of ceremonies, Yolanda Perez, took the microphone. “I have wondered what it felt like to grow up during the JFK and MLK era,” she said. “Tonight I understand.”
The story got the thumbs up on Twitter from liberal royalty, in the form of Joe Kennedy III, the Massachusetts congressman who appeared in the story as Beto’s buddy:
If only @BetoORourke would take my advice, dye his hair red and get a sun burn. Seriously, take some time to read @mviser’s piece about why Beto would be a relentless fighter for the health care and economic dignity of every single Texan.
(Portrait of Beto O'Rourke by Alexei Hay.)