Beto-mania: Reality and the limits of youthful enthusiasm
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Whatever anyone says about Beto O’Rourke in the coming months, no one will ever accuse him of lacking enthusiasm.
Here’s how the always-energetic, always-sunny presidential candidate in shirtsleeves and a ball cap began his speech to a packed hall at the Penn State student union on Tuesday:
“It’s so great to come in late at night in absolute darkness,” he said of his arrival in this bucolic central Pennsylvania college town, “not be able to see where I was or the beauty that surrounded me, and wake up to one of the most glorious days I’ve ever had on this planet in my 46 years of existence.”
O’Rourke is a planetary and existential sort of guy, someone for whom “Have a nice day” doesn’t begin to get at the level of joy we ought to have during our time on this earth.
He exudes energy, optimism and confidence laced with the requisite quotient of self-criticism. This Democrat is eager to make clear that he hates a politics rooted in trashing enemies.
And while everything about him looks spontaneous, he speaks in the brisk, well-formed sentences that could only come from someone who knows how this game is played.
“We’re going everywhere for everyone. No one is taken for granted. No one is written off.”
“The challenge is our economy: It works too well for too few and not well enough for too many.”
“You will not get political democracy until you have something approaching economic democracy in this country.”
O’Rourke’s visit here was part of a somewhat slapdash but attention-getting multistate tour aimed at sending an early message. Within days of announcing his candidacy, he is stopping by industrial heartland states – he also traveled to Michigan and Ohio – that Hillary Clinton lost and that, O’Rourke is saying implicitly, he can bring home to his party.
One message certainly got through here: He is an excitement generator. When O’Rourke finished his speech, he had to work his way out of the building through a boisterous crowd yearning to touch him and (welcome to our era) come away with selfies.
It was a smart move by his advance team. The video had the feel of a late-October generalelection rally, and the youthful candidate named Robert Francis really did convey that look his partisans associate with the late Robert F. Kennedy. Yet O’Rourke’s rollout has been far from smooth. The knocks he has absorbed – from the party’s left for some of his conservative votes in Congress, from women for the comment he has since apologized for that his wife Amy raised their three children “sometimes with my help,” from various quarters for what they saw as a sense of “entitlement” and “privilege” – were a sign that magic and spark are not sufficient fuel for barreling through a gargantuan Democratic field.
Interviews with two dozen people in the mostly student crowd here suggested that most of them are still waiting.
“I want to see if he can run with the big dogs – there are a lot of them out there,” said Eric Layland, a 32-year-old doctoral student, summarizing a view offered by many here that the Democrats have an abundance of highly qualified choices.
With Vice President Joe Biden apparently prepared to jump into the race, several things have become clearer in the campaign’s first few months. Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., begin with large pools of support built up over long periods that cannot simply be written off as “name recognition.” Both command genuine loyalties from very different parts of the party.
In the meantime, three fresh candidates have made the best use of the early running.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., penetrated public consciousness with a very successful opening week and stands well in recent polling.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has earned respect and attention for a policy-heavy campaign of remarkably specific proposals that required a response from her rivals.
And South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has risen from nowhere with a series of savvy television appearances in which he was refreshingly direct and joined issues that run crosswise to the party’s usual ideological fights. He continued his streak Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” with a call for a renewed “religious left,” urging his party to “reclaim faith.”
None of this means that O’Rourke’s obvious gifts are irrelevant. But neither Beto-mania nor any other craze will suddenly upend a contest in which Democratic voters are fiercely serious and listening more to their heads than to their hearts.
E.J. Dionne Time capsule is a reminder of our climate responsibility
On March 2, The Buffalo News ran a story about the “time capsule” assembled by East Aurora and Town of Aurora residents. Packed with letters to future Aurorans, the capsule will be stored in the town’s municipal center, to be opened by the curious in 2068.
I didn’t have a chance to contribute to the capsule. Nonetheless, the story set me and, certainly, other readers thinking about what we would write about, if we could, for those who will come after us. What will they want to know about us? How do we want to be remembered?
All these questions seem to hinge on the state of the world 50 years hence. Environmental crises – many caused by climate change – will probably, then, be top of mind.
According to Cornell University, if we don’t soon drastically reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), then by 2060, 1.4 billion people will likely be climate refugees, homeless and on the move due to rising sea levels, desertification, and water and food shortages. Even as the world’s population approaches 10 billion, its habitable land will continue shrinking. Thus, millions will move to Western New York, with its temperate climate and plentiful water.
Aware of these imminent social upheavals, we can be sure future Western New Yorkers will wonder how we sought to preserve their region for them. Did we promote a transition to renewable energy, thereby shielding waterways from dangerous natural gas pipelines, and reducing GHG emissions and coal ash landfills? Did we hold polluters accountable for cleaning up their waste dumps?
And how do we want to be remembered in 2068 and beyond? I’m confident that we’d like to be known as the generation that saw the depletion and pollution of natural resources, and responded through recycling, reducing and reusing, to ensure a sustainable future.
Andrew Hartley, Ph.D.
Regarding the March 17 article, “Amherst teen subjected to racial taunts during game” how can the other Cheektowaga Warriors’ players allow their teammates to behave in such a rude manner without repercussions?
The epitome of poor sportsmanship was definitely on display that night. Their taunting cost them more than their game, competition, and ability to play on the 18 and under team.
We’re talking integrity, self-respect, and their future involvement in sports, not to mention the reputation of their school. Most importantly, do the two players understand how they made another human being feel?
Lastly, how about a public apology from the individuals committing such a cruel and disrespectful act to the poor victim they targeted. It might be a start in teaching these young men how to treat the human race.
The success of the University at Buffalo football and basketball teams may be a morale booster to the community, but that success comes at a cost.
The salary of the head football coach is $615,000. The salary of the head basketball coach is $600,000 plus incentives for postseason play. The president of the University at Buffalo receives $500,000.
Neither the cost of the stadium and the field house nor the costs of the coaching staff do anything to improve the education and have caused UB to cut other sports that had allowed real student athletes to have a competitive collegiate sport experience.
The goal of colleges and universities should be to give all students a chance to develop a breadth of knowledge and a chance to participate in various activities, not to act as farm teams for the NFL and the NBA.
Chasing national championships in football and basketball does not enrich the educational opportunity for the majority of UB students, who will never suit up for those teams.
Double standards exist in all facets of our society
So now we have a massive college entrance bribery scandal by the rich and famous.
We have ongoing college athletic payola and sex scandals. We have quotes by some well to do individuals saying that only suckers pay taxes. We have celebrities speaking out on global warming and flying around in private jets or being driven around in gas guzzling limos.
We have government officials warning of budget deficits but proposing new, unaffordable spending programs. We have politicians promoting socialism while they have multiple homes and send their kids to the best colleges.
I could go on but I think the point has been made. The hypocrisy out there by a portion of our society has reached absurd levels. Props to the news media for reporting it and informing we, the lowly middle-class citizens, who foot the bill for much of this and are preached to on a regular basis. The old saying “do as I say and not as I do” definitely applies these days.
We need to pay attention to state legislators’ actions
The New York Times article published in the March 19 Buffalo News paints an interesting picture of three progressive young female state legislators. Do not be duped.
This group is not your fuzzy pajama party sorority sisters deliberating on the best interests of New York State voters. Each of these young women voted in favor of the Reproductive Health Act (RHA).
Jessica Ramos, 13th Senate District, talks about her bill to exempt breast pumps from sales taxes. Kind of sadistically ironic after her support of RHA. Not mentioned in the article, Ramos is sponsoring a pending bill to legalize prostitution in New York State along with Sens. Julia Salazar, 18th district, Brad Hoylman, 27th district and Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, 75th district.
So, is this the new Albany optimism Sen. Yuh-Line Niou hints at in the piece? I certainly hope not.
People please pay attention to what your legislators are planning in Albany.
Zeke’s emotional story is what life is all about
How can one not be emotionally moved after reading the article about Zeke in the March 17 News. After endless blather about politics. This story is what life is actually all about. A tragic story about the biological mother who gave her child away. A dramatic story about a courageous family who accepts the responsibility of raising a young boy. How many of us would take on the task of raising the Zekes of this world? Zeke’s new family is what mankind is all about.