I've got to be honest, not many of us in the press were looking forward to the 2020 Democratic primary. Just hours ago, it felt like it was going to be an exhausting, miserable affair. The current field was a mixture of fossils, extremists and power-hungry cynics willing to say anything and hurt anybody to get a hold on the White House.
But things have changed. A new candidate has entered the race, a man untethered from the old ways, possibly even from the conventional restrictions of physics, time and space. More a spiritual force than a temporal leader. More a poet than a politician. Ladies and gentlemen, the author of our redemption, Beto O'Rourke.
Beto loves rock and roll, says "GMA." He is not like everyone else. He doesn't do stuffy speeches or policy programs. He is not going to bore you with entitlement projections, or some scary stuff about the Korean peninsula.
Beto has a skateboard and wears Nirvana T-shirts. His vision for this country is 1995. That was the year he was living way uptown in a walk-up and working as a "manny" and he knew this dude on West 112th Street with some of the stickiest bud in Manhattan -- Indica - a little heavy, but sweet.
It was a good time. Beto wants to bring us back to that time, and the press is totally on board. According to the press, Beto has got that "magic dust," oh, yes. And he does at least an eight-ball. Though the guy on 112th Street has more, if you need it. Beto has great hair, too. Beat that combo.
Actual voting doesn't begin for months but Beto is already America's spiritual president. And by the way, that's a much cleaner way to run for office. However, real elections -- the ones with voters -- sometimes end with an announcement like this: "We can call now that the Texas race will go to Ted Cruz, the incumbent Republican. ... Ted Cruz win over Beto O'Rourke."
Well, that Senate election loss was a bummer for Beto. So Beto splits soon afterward on a solo road trip. It was a whole 'Me and You and a Dog Named Boo' kind of thing. The sort of trip that Kerouac or Steinbeck would have taken. Just the hum of the engine and the black ribbon of the open road -- a time to feed the soul.
It was also a time to stage a series of publicity shots for Snapchat and Instagram while simultaneously blogging the whole thing -- timeless stuff. An all-American redemption story. Beto came back a better man. He understood the running for president thing was not for him. When a reporter repeatedly asked Beto whether he'd ever run for president, he said, "No punto ...No period."
No punto, baby! Down at the border, where the people are authentic and speak various languages at once. That means, 'Yes, I am running for president just as soon as I can hire a staff of consultants and line up some billionaires to fund it. But for now, I will lie about my plans.'
And that's exactly what Beto did. So here we are in the Age of Beto. What's the plan, man? What are we doing? What's next?
What's next, Beto says, is understanding that the things that we think of as terrifying threats to the country are actually perfectly cool. Like more than 20 million people using fake identities to live illegally inside the United States. That's not a problem. That's the best, man.
What else is Beto for? That's a fair question, but honestly it's not really clear. We checked his campaign website. There is a picture there that says "Beto for America," in English. The one in Spanish says, "Beto for all." We couldn't find any actual policies even about fighting extinction.
"All of us, wherever you live, can acknowledge that if immigration is a problem it's the best possible problem for this country to have," Beto says.
Yes, it's the best problem. Hard to think of a better problem. Illegal immigration is such a cool problem to have, we ought to have more. Let's knock down the border walls, dude.
But that's not to say Beto doesn't see problems on the horizon. He does, and when he does, his doe-brown eyes cloud a little, and he stares off in the distance to consider a holistic solution, just like James Dean would have done if he would have lived to be Beto's age and could skateboard.
Beto says global warming is a major bummer. Global warming could make us go extinct, like the dinosaurs in the museums, man. Dead forever.
"Some will criticize the Green New Deal for being too bold or being unmanageable," he says. "I will tell you what, I haven't seen anything better that addresses the singular crisis that we face, a crisis that could, at its worst, lead to extinction."
Extinction. That's what Beto is fighting against.
What else is he for? That's a fair question, but honestly, it's not really clear. We checked his campaign website. There is a picture there that says "Beto for America," in English. The one in Spanish says, "Beto for all." We couldn't find any actual policies even about fighting extinction.
But we did find a sweet Beto tote bag that costs 30 bucks. And you don't have to pledge to NPR to get it, although you probably already have. You ought to get one. It's awesome.
Adapted from Tucker Carlson's monologue from 'Tucker Carlson Tonight" on March 14, 2019.