So, lots of not particularly strong thoughts on the matter, but I thought I’d share some anyone.

1) I’d really like someone with some more political experience.  Especially executive experience.  But, hey, almost everybody here is lacking executive experience, but Beto is short political experience, period.  And that matters!  There’s real skills to be an effective legislation and many of them actually come from experience working as a politician.

2) That said, of course I’m happy to support pretty much any Democrat with a solid shot of beating Trump– and that’s definitely Beto.

3a) Real tired of the “privileged white man thinks he can run for president” takes.

3b) He clearly gets people excited about politics– especially young people- -and that matters.  Part of political skills are the skills of exciting people and running an effective campaign.  Beto’s got that.  I’ve seen my students respond to him like I haven’t seen since the way they responded to Obama in 2008 (though, definitely not to the same degree).

4) He’s pretty thin on policy.  As you know, all else being equal, I strongly prefer candidates who are serious and thoughtful about policy (e.g., Warren).  But all else is not equal.  I thought this tweet from Lee Drutman was particularly interesting:

5) Following up on that, I found this Edward-Isaac Dovere take pretty interesting:

He gave no specifics on how he’d do anything he wants to do, or even exactly what that might be, in his announcement, other than a long pledge to uplift people and bring the country together, instead of tearing it part, as Trump has. Nor did he give specifics at his first event, in Iowa later in the morning and carried live on cable—he talked about health care but didn’t mention “Medicare for all” or any alternative. He was asked about the Green New Deal but talked generally about the climate as he addressed “the spirit of the question.” There are T-shirts and hats for sale online, with just his first name. It’s not up on hotels or towers anywhere, but no other Democrat running is famous enough to be quite such a brand…

Some Democrats are impressed. “You can make a strong argument that Beto is the only candidate in the race so far who has demonstrated the ability to tell a story and command media oxygen in a way that could rival Trump’s,” said one top Democratic operative, eager to discuss O’Rourke but wary of singling him out for praise…

Most of all, O’Rourke is a challenge to how Democrats go back and think about Obama. Thanks to Trump, Obama has never been more beloved by his party. He was calm, and he was collected, and not every day felt like a constant crisis. What people now remember was the guy who’d gone gray by the end of eight years, signed health-care legislation, presided over the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, restored good relations with people around the world, and pushed for the Paris climate accords, all while telling dad jokes, filling out his March Madness bracket, and doing interviews with book authors.

A long time ago already, Obama became a celebrity himself, propelled to run for president mostly because of one amazing convention speech, and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize without seeming to have done all that much to earn it other than win the Electoral College and not be George W. Bush. Hillary Clinton and John McCain agreed that Obama was pitching aimless dreams, propped up by a gushing media that was obsessed with every little thing he’d do. But in the meantime, Obama built a movement, and he beat both of them, and Mitt Romney four years later even with the economy still in trouble…

Neera Tanden, the Center for American Progress president who worked on Clinton’s 2008 campaign, worked on health-care policy for Obama, and then backed Clinton’s 2016 run, sounded out a thought on Twitter on Thursday morning as she watched the early criticism of his lack of experience unfold.

“I know another person folks could have said the precise same things about in 2007. And he turned out to be a pretty excellent president,” Tanden wrote. “They are two different people of course. And it’s a different time. But still.”

So, I won’t be donating to the Beto campaign any time soon.  But if he proves himself a strong candidate, then more power to him.  And, if not, still time for a 2020 Texas Senate race.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Beto

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    OK – you talked me into talking Elizabeth Warren into considering Beto as a running mate. What a ticket – brains, policies and charisma!

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