For the life of me, I’m not sure why. Around three weeks ago, Barack Obama met with Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, one of several Democrats who have met with Obama while being mentioned by the press as potential aspirants for a challenge to Donald Trump. The Washington Post reported on it for the first time this morning as a culmination of efforts by Obama’s advisers to launch O’Rourke into the 2020 sweepstakes:
Beto O’Rourke, weighing whether to mount a 2020 presidential bid, met recently with Barack Obama at his post-presidency offices in Washington.
The meeting, which was held Nov. 16 at the former president’s offices in Foggy Bottom, came as former Obama aides have encouraged the Democratic House member to run, seeing him as capable of the same kind of inspirational campaign that caught fire in the 2008 presidential election.
The meeting was the first sign of Obama getting personally involved in conversations with O’Rourke, who, despite his November loss in a U.S. Senate race in Texas, has triggered more recent discussion and speculation than any other candidate in the burgeoning 2020 field.
CBS followed up this morning with yet another help-us-Beto-you’re-our-only-hope profile, one in a long series that helped O’Rourke raise his profile and a boatload of money. CBS Live followed up with a six-minute segment about the presidential prospects for a three-term congressional backbencher who couldn’t win a statewide race, even with a $36 million third quarter:
According to The Washington Post, Obama held a meeting with O’Rourke in his post-presidency offices in Washington last month. Although O’Rourke told before Election Day that, win or lose, he would not run for office in 2020, the progressive Texas congressman two weeks ago and did not rule out a future bid.
During a town hall in his border district in late November, O’Rourke said he and his wife will “think about what we can do next to contribute to the best of our ability to this community” after his third congressional term concludes in January. …
O’Rourke’s robust, unabashedly liberal senate bid in deep-red Texas — along with his Obama-esque oratory prowess on the campaign trail — catapulted him to national fame this year. Although he failed to unseat Cruz, O’Rourke galvanized a broad electoral coalition in Texas, including the state’s large and growing Latino community, and lost by less than three percentage points.
Good grief. Other than the specifics of the meeting with Obama, how many of these hagiomonials have we seen this kind of tribute to Beto from major media outlets? A hundred would be an estimate on the low end, right? There must be a Beto template floating around between journalists for these stories, or maybe two — one using “Kennedyesque” and the other using “Obama-esque.” (Style guide reminder: don’t forget the hyphen on Obama-esque to prevent double-vowel confusion!)
If this meeting was sooo important, why did it take three weeks for anyone to talk about it? (For that matter, how is this more important than Obama’s meeting with Andrew Gillum? Oh yeah, $36 million.) Granted, the meeting took place over the weekend preceding Thanksgiving, so the media cycle was on a cyclical low at the time. But the media cycle picked back up almost immediately after that, and no one’s been reluctant to report on other 2020 news developments.
The curious timing of today’s reports on a meeting that took place nearly three weeks ago raises a question — is there some particular reason this leaked out today? Presumably, this either came from O’Rourke himself, or from ObamaWorld. The Post doesn’t source this meeting, and neither O’Rourke or Obama would comment for the story. However, the meeting emerged only one day after someone much closer to Obama declared himself the “most qualified” candidate to challenge Trump:
“I’ll be as straight with you as I can. I think I’m the most qualified person in the country to be president,” Biden said at a stop for his book tour in Missoula, Mont. “The issues that we face as a country today are the issues that have been in my wheelhouse, that I’ve worked on my whole life.”
“No one should run for the job unless they believe that they would be qualified doing the job. I’ve been doing this my whole adult life, and the issues that are the most consequential relating to the plight of the middle class and our foreign policy are things that I have — even my critics would acknowledge, I may not be right, but I know a great deal about it,” he added.
That would be former Vice President Joe Biden, Obama’s good friend and partner for eight years. Biden’s riding high in 2020 primary polling, and this is his most pointed indication yet that he might jump into the race despite just celebrating his 76th birthday two weeks ago. It’s also a few days after Obama’s former Secretary of State, John Kerry, hinted to a Harvard audience that he might be the most qualified candidate … again.
Maybe the Betomaniacs among Obama’s cadre of advisers and assistants are a little worried about the party backing a couple of retreads. It certainly looks like the person peddling this meeting from three weeks ago wants to eclipse these more recent developments and remind everyone of Beto-wan Kenobi … even though he’s far from their only hope.