Imagine this: A 46-year-old former congresswoman and mother of three, who just lost a Senate bid to one of the most despised incumbents, sets off on a road trip adventure to clear her head.
She instagrams part of her trip to the dentist. She gives a two-hour interview to The Washington Post where she shows no real knowledge of policy.
Like a first-year college student, she pontificates on whether the Constitution is still a thing that matters after all these many years.
And then she writes a stream of consciousness diary entry, where she is all in her sad and confused feelings, over … something:
Have been stuck lately. In and out of a funk. My last day of work was January 2nd. It’s been more than twenty years since I was last not working. Maybe if I get moving, on the road, meet people, learn about what’s going on where they live, have some adventure, go where I don’t know and I’m not known, it’ll clear my head, reset, I’ll think new thoughts, break out of the loops I’ve been stuck in.
Another dispatch, posted a day later:
This was the most intense fog I’d seen. A thick all encompassing blanket. I figured that by the time I’d finished breakfast at the Pancake House in Liberal (top three pancakes I’ve ever had) the sun would burn through, but it didn’t.
I left Liberal with a full stomach, and with gratitude for my hosts at Southwind. But since I came in at night and left in a fog, I had no idea what the town really looked like.
This is Beto O’Rourke’s navel-gazing, self-involved, rollout of a possible rollout of a possible presidential campaign. Oprah Winfrey’s couch is next.
This could never, ever be a woman.
We’ve seen the field fill up already with women. And we’ve seen how they think they must run – as serious, surefooted, policy experts with big ideas. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard are in; and on the same day as O’Rourke’s emo-essay, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced that she feels “called at this moment to make a difference.”
One of the first questions she got was about her likability, because of course she did.
O’Rourke, 46, we are told, is “Obama, but white,” because of his fundraising prowess – he raised nearly $80 million in his loss to Sen. Ted Cruz. He skateboards! He listens! He connects on the internet!
And Jack Kerouac-style, he roams around, jobless (does he not need a job?) to find himself and figure out if he wants to lead the free world. This is a luxury no woman or even minority in politics could ever have.
But O’Rourke, tall, handsome, white and male, has this latitude, to be and do anything. His privilege even allows him to turn a loss to the most despised candidate of the cycle into a launching pad for a White House run.
Stacey Abrams, a Yale-trained lawyer, couldn’t do this.
O’Rourke is being criticized for his randomness. For his TMI’ing and for his “what do I want to do with my life” aimlessness.
But the fact that he knows he has the freedom to cast about as a campaign-in-waiting forms, shows how much of his political identity is predicated on being white and male.