Contrary to popular Democratic spin, there are many Latinos who take serious issue with Democratic candidate Robert Francis O’Rourke on a number of levels. Much of the frustration comes out when discussing his questionable “Beto” nickname.
A few days ago, one of the most widely read Latino columnists in the country, Ruben Navarette, wrote a scathing editorial in USA Today that compared O’Rourke’s appropriation of the Beto moniker as being akin to “stolen valor, the righteous outrage felt by combat veterans when others who didn’t see action claim medals they don’t deserve.”
He said of the wealthy O’Rourke whose family is of Irish heritage and who married into the family fortune of a billionaire heiress, “He hasn’t earned the familiarity he allegedly has with Latinos.”
Dozens of Latinos that Navarette has spoken with are not fans. He indicated that first, in three terms representing his El Paso district in Congress, O’Rourke has not represented the interests of Latinos particularly well.
He then wrote, “They’re concerned that (O’Rourke) … is trying to put one over on Latinos by tricking them into thinking he’s one of them. Or, at the very least, they think that his strategy, or that of his handlers, is to come across to Latinos as a simpatico who connects with them the way that Bill Clinton … connected with African-Americans.
“Por favor. Please. Speaking as a Mexican-American, let me spare you the suspense: That zapato won’t fit. Sorry, Beto, you’re no Bill Clinton.”
As for the origin of O’Rourke’s use of the “Beto” nickname, in 2018, the Dallas Morning News reported:
In the backdrop of the city’s multicultural community, his father, Pat O’Rourke, a consummate politician, once explained why he nicknamed his son Beto: Nicknames are common in Mexico and along the border, and if he ever ran for office in El Paso, the odds of being elected in this mostly Mexican-American city were far greater with a name like Beto than Robert Francis O’Rourke. It was also a way to distinguish him from his maternal grandfather, Robert Williams.
The younger O’Rourke shrugged when told of his father’s comment and simply called his father “farsighted.”
Navarette countered: “I’d use different words, like cynical and dishonest and manipulative.”
Regarding the use of “Beto,” Navarette complained that he switches it on and off as needed like a light switch. He was Robert at birth, Beto as a child, Robert in boarding school and at Columbia University, and Beto again in El Paso when he was running for public office.
This weekend on Meet the Press, O’Rourke claimed that being a white male does not disadvantage him in the race for the presidential nomination, even though his Democratic party is seething with anger toward white males in general.
O’Rourke said that he would make “white privilege” a “big part” of his campaign.
He said, “As a white man who has had privileges that others could not depend on or take for granted, I’ve clearly had advantages over the course of my life. I think recognizing that and understanding that others have not … doing everything I can to ensure that there is opportunity and the possibility for advancement and advantage for everyone is a big part of this campaign and a big part of the people who comprise this campaign.”
Clearly, if Latino voters who make up the largest minority in America look beyond the camouflage of the “Beto” name, he will have a major challenge winning them over.
If Beto had an R after his name instead of a D, you’d hear he was boarding-school-attending judge’s son who dodged serious charges for the DUI & burglary, used eminent domain to gentrify poor Latino neighborhoods & married into a billionaire’s family. https://t.co/s46ildgFnB pic.twitter.com/mG1TpXjVqw
— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) March 14, 2019
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