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It must be a grown-up thing, but every time I see Beto O’Rourke, I want to fix him a hamburger. He’s precious.

And, if my eyes serve me, he’s hungry.

Kathleen Parker mug

kathleen parker

Call it maternal instinct; call it age. But, let’s call the Texas Democrat’s nascent presidential campaign what it is: a youthful folly. If only the media machine weren’t already doing its dang-est to advance a narrative primarily of its own making. No one in recent memory, save for Donald Trump, has received so much free advertising by simply showing up.

From near-constant chatter on cable-news shows to a recent cover-story splash in Vanity Fair, O’Rourke is the newest celebrity politician. In a telling quote in the magazine article, he declared: “Man, I’m just born to be in it.”

O’Rourke did grow up around politics. His late father, Pat O’Rourke, a Texas county judge, co-chaired Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign in Texas in 1984 and 1988, and later ran unsuccessfully for Congress after becoming a Republican. The younger O’Rourke often tagged along on campaign stops and has recounted hating it when his dad urged him to speak to people. I leave the rest to Dr. Freud.

Don’t get me wrong, the boyish man whose mannerisms and speech patterns ricochet between Robert Kennedy and Barack Obama (Berto O’Bama?) is — have I said this? — precious, the preferred fallback term when, upon peering into a bassinet at someone’s new baby, there’s nothing else to say. For a reason, Beto metaphors and similes are found in the nursery.

When he flails his arms, often in front of his own face, he reminds mothers everywhere of the moment when an infant suddenly realizes that the hand bobbing in front of his nose belongs to him, whereupon he remains mesmerized until he realizes there’s another one!

O’Rourke apparently hasn’t quite made the connection, but some coaching may help. If not, we’ll be listening to the hand.

None of this is to say he isn’t perfectly qualified to be president of the United States. O’Rourke, after all, has served three terms in Congress and barely lost his Senate bid last year to Republican Ted Cruz. Previously, he served as an El Paso city councilman and otherwise has worked for a startup Internet-service provider, been a nanny, art mover, proofreader and, when time allowed, a writer of short stories and, briefly, an alternative-weekly publisher. He also played bass in a punk rock bank, Foss. I’m no soothsayer, but I’d gamble on a late-night-show bass performance real soon.

In fairness, as columnists like to say when they’re midway through a political evisceration, he is precious. But are we sure his dosage is correct? To the untrained eye, O’Rourke’s jumping, dancing, lurching pogo-stick histrionics seem more manic than high-energy. I’d offer a beer with that hamburger, but I fear being accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor leaguer. (Search O’Rourke’s DWI and burglary arrest history if you want to.)

Otherwise, I confess that I like O’Rourke as the person he actually is — a dreamy-eyed Libran with whom I happen to share a birthday (Sept. 26), if a few years apart. He also shares my husband’s high school alma mater, Woodberry Forest. In a star-gazing, palm-reading, karma-kind-of-way, he’s a pretty irresistible combo, but mostly for dating.

As presidential material, O’Rourke has offered little substance except to say that he wants to make the country a better place and save the planet, which no other politician has ever said. He’s against walls, at times favors expanding Medicare for those who want it, and suggested climate-change warriors are like our troops who fought in World War II. No, they’re not.

Going forward, the O’Rourke campaign’s operative word is “positive,” which is why columnists rarely run for public office. That said, I am positive about one thing: O’Rourke is a composite character churned out by a Google analytics algorithm that specified a youngish, Spanish-speaking, tall, skinny guy whose nickname sounds Latino, even though O’Rourke is 100 percent white, from a privileged background, and the husband of a hundred-millionaire’s daughter, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

In this anti-white-male era, I suppose a white mother of three white males and one white grandson should be gratified that so many young people are drawn to him. As I may be someday, too — in about 2032 — when the still boyish O’Rourke will be a more-seasoned 60 — and I’ll be trying to get out of a chair, assuming a lot.

In the meantime, a burger has Beto’s name on it.

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Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker can be reached at


(3) comments

Rick Czeczok

Listening to this guy speak in Iowa this weekend was like listening to a cartoon. he babbled and spoke and said nothing. He stumbled in his wording and was about as graceful as a bull in a china shop, with his ill advised statements. If this is the best the socialist party can come up with, good luck. Just a note, AOC and Omar now have blood on their hands with their garbage talk. Pelosi better stand up to these two, as they are now a dangerous pair, with a lot of power. What was Minnesota and New York citizenry thinking?


Sheesh, Ricky! After reading the first three sentences of your 11:35am post, I thought I had somehow stumbled on to an old string of comments made in 2016 and you were talking about candidate Donald Trump in Iowa. I have no high hopes for Beto, personally, and certainly I had none for Trump three years ago. Do you think Beto will have as good a run as Trump?

By the way, could you point out what blood on whose hands? Please explain.


Oh boy don't get ricky going on asking him to explain anything. You know it will be the same garbage
he always spouts. This column reminds me of the John Kennedy campaign. all the pundits saying he was too young, too boyish looking, too flashy, too soon to jump into the presidential ring. And history showed them all to be wrong. Same
could be said for this guy. Don't cast him aside so soon, anyone, even a monkey would be better than Trump. That makes all the candidates running against him look very elective!

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