Left-wing activists and liberal journalists were quick to mock former Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D-TX) on Wednesday evening after he told Vanity Fair that he was “born” to run for president.
O’Rourke told Vanity Fair, “You can probably tell that I want to run… I do. I think I’d be good at it.”
“I want to be in it,” O’Rourke said. “Man, I’m just born to be in it, and want to do everything I humanly can for this country at this moment.”
Hours after Vanity Fair published its fawning cover story, O’Rourke confirmed to KTSM in Texas that he would announce on Thursday that he is running for president.
“I’m really proud of what El Paso did and what El Paso represents,” O’Rourke reportedly texted the station. “It’s a big part of why I’m running. This city is the best example of this country at its best.”
The gushing Vanity Fair profile also framed O’Rourke as someone who, in contrast to President Donald Trump, “can appear almost too innocent” and “decent” to be a politiician:
But unlike Trump, O’Rourke can appear almost too innocent to be a politician—too decent, too wholesome, the very reason he became popular also the same reason he could be crucified on the national stage. I tell O’Rourke that perhaps he’s simply too normal to be president. “Whether you meant it or not, I take that as a compliment,” he says.
O’Rourke’s critics on the left immediately pointed to his “white privilege” and mocked his “weird as hell” “Messiah-esque” tone that they predicted “will not serve him well” in a presidential run.
"I'm just born to be in it" is peak, white male privilege. (And I say this as someone who generally likes Beto.)
— Alex Segura (@alex_segura) March 13, 2019
Vote Beto, “He was born to do it.” That’s weird as hell.
— Bakari Sellers (@Bakari_Sellers) March 13, 2019
Hmmm. Not sure this Vanity Fair piece will help Beto’s campaign …
Beto O’Rourke, as He Comes to Grips with a Presidential Run: “I’m Just Born to Do This” https://t.co/mLSi4MSfZx
— Jennifer Granholm (@JenGranholm) March 13, 2019
“I want to be in it. Man, I’m just born to be in it." Robert ORourke announcing a bid for 2020 with a peak out of touch white male privilege quote on the @VanityFair cover.
Yes, you were born with white privilege, that doesn’t mean you would be a good President to we without it. pic.twitter.com/u9GO154xdp
— . (@JenniferKFalcon) March 13, 2019
The allure of Beto is that he wasn’t ‘born to it.’ This Messiah-esque tone will not serve him well.
— G O L D I E. (@goldietaylor) March 13, 2019
— Hugh Riminton (@hughriminton) March 13, 2019
Others pointed out that O’Rourke’s comments suggesting he had a “birthright” to the presidency were especially tone deaf after celebrities and high-powered executives were caught this week bribing college officials and coaches to get their kids into prestigious universities.
No shade, but "I'm just born to be in it." is an unideal phrase in this cultural moment, esp. as we talk about children of privilege being given things they don't deserve. Not that that's Beto, just that being born into something in the US isn't compelling proof of worthiness. https://t.co/Pv7zHyYeeq
— R. Eric Thomas (@oureric) March 13, 2019
Man, I can't think of a worse opening statement than suggesting you have a birthright to the presidential race. https://t.co/hPl6SHFHzR
— Kaitlin Menza (@heykmenz) March 13, 2019
The New York Times noted this week that “Democratic strategists argue that the relatively positive reception” to O’Rourke after his 2018 defeat is “evidence, yet again, of the deep double standard female candidates face.”
O’Rourke’s critics have also reportedly been pointing out, highlighting the disportioncate amount of buzz he has received compared to someone like failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, that “he is being given a benefit of the doubt that wouldn’t be extended to a woman or a candidate of color.”
A former Hillary Clinton aide told the Times: “If a woman was presented with a similar choice: Do that less ambitious but better for the party thing, versus more ambitious but longer shot thing, I don’t see people being super understanding when she takes the latter.”