Presidential Chatter Is Making Everyone, Beto O'Rourke Included, a Little Nuts

Beto O'Rourke at a campaign stop in Dallas in April.
Beto O'Rourke at a campaign stop in Dallas in April.
Brian Maschino
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Earlier this week, as the post-midterm election haze receded and was quickly replaced by pre-primary gossip, we pondered the fate of Beto O'Rourke following his 2.5 point loss to Sen Ted Cruz. The Democrat's next gig, we surmised, is probably going to be running for president, because many people seem to want him to and he has no real reason not to. He's out of a job, still looks like a lost member of the Kennedy clan and has a wife who happens to be a scion to a multimillion-dollar family real estate empire.

O'Rourke has done little to slow down the rumor mill. Rather than going into hiding to mourn his near miss, O'Rourke has remained in the public eye, largely through his continued use of social media. Over the weekend, he sent a frustrated missive to supporters lamenting his loss and looking to the future. Thursday, O'Rourke took advantage of still being a member of Congress for one last lame-duck session to post an essay on Medium, an online publishing forum, about going for a run in the D.C. snow.

O'Rourke describes running up the steps of the Lincoln memorial and ponders the 16th president's second inaugural address before nodding to the future without saying anything explicit about his plans.

"I don’t know that a better speech has ever been written or given or recorded or made.

These words:

'With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds…'

I walked down the steps, too slick to run down.

Saw the mounted policemen again. Picked up my run as I headed due East, now on the south side of the reflecting pool. Snow in my face, the flakes smaller, more biting now, maybe sleet. It had changed. My knee no longer hurt, maybe it just needed to fully warm up. Ran next to and eventually past a man who stopped from time to time to defrost his shoes on the grates and manhole covers, warmed by the subway tunnels underneath.

The sleet stinging my face, I wondered if the winds had changed too."

Whatever one might make of O'Rourke's writing — we'd rate it as a little overwrought, but way better than average for a member of Congress — it provided the perfect opportunity to make one of political Twitter's most worn-out jokes.

The bit, popularized by Washington Post politics reporter Dave Weigel, is to take anything anyone anywhere in the general vicinity of running for president does or says, preferably out of context, and proclaim that person is "running." Kamala Harris makes a trip to Iowa. She's running. Mitt Romney is seen in Manchester, New Hampshire. He's running. That's the whole thing.

So I made the joke, tagging Weigel in the process.

Weigel was kind enough to give me a retweet, which led to my spending a portion of the morning in a #Beto2020 cocoon.

Many people are clearly looking for any sign that O'Rourke might be in their life for a little bit longer. 

Others were looking to be the congressman's copy editor. 

The best responses realized how ridiculous it is to be looking to O'Rourke's essay, or O'Rourke himself, for an answer, especially after the guy lost an election for which he raised more than $70 million.

However one might feel about his presidential chances, O'Rourke is still driving conversation. Over the next six months, he'll need to continue to do so if he hopes to have a spot in the top tier of a Democratic field experts have guessed could swell to as many as three dozen candidates. 

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