Long Read: “Beto O’Rourke Could Be The Democrat Texas Has Been Waiting For”

When O’Rourke speaks on the stump, he punctuates his points by moving his left hand up and down, like he’s directing traffic. His voice isn’t particularly melodic; he’s Lincoln-lanky; he lacks the preacher’s cadence that marked former president Obama’s speeches. But O’Rourke’s energy is palpable, infectious; his sweat is the physical evidence of that energy leaving his body. And it seems to be working. Even as he struggles with a continued lack of name recognition, in a state that has consistently voted Republican for the past three decades, recent polling places O’Rourke just two to six points behind Cruz. Among volunteers, there’s cautious yet barely contained glee: Could O’Rourke pull off an upset that, just six months before, seemed impossible?

By the time O’Rourke reaches the peaks of his stump speech in Kerrville — advocating for better treatment of Texas’s teachers, arguing for universal health care, and decrying family separation at the border — his shirt is full-on stuck to his back, and the crowd feels ready to ignite. When he announces that he hasn’t taken any money from PACs, instead raising $10.4 million (with an average donation of $33) to Cruz’s $4.6 million over the last quarter, the audience explodes.

Afterward, an endless line forms to meet and take selfies with the candidate. One man makes small talk with O’Rourke’s communications director, Chris Evans, who’s filming the entire thing — as he does every town hall — for Facebook Live. “You’ve got to get that man another shirt,” the man says. “He knows he only gets one shirt for the day,” Evans responded. “He sweat through this one early.”

A politician’s stump speech has the same effect as a good sermon. For those who already believe, it reenergizes the faithful. But a truly great stump speech also appeals to the skeptic — and provides moments of near-spiritual conversion. That’s what a Beto O’Rourke speech does. It makes people believe: believe that the country doesn’t have to feel the way it does right now, that people who think differently can still have a conversation, that you can be conservative and vote for a candidate without an “R” beside their name. While we’re 30 years removed from the election of a Democrat like Ann Richards to run the state — current governor Greg Abbott is a hardline conservative — a Beto O’Rourke speech makes people believe that a Democrat can win a major statewide race in Texas again. And these believers can help make it happen.

O’Rourke has taken to calling the coming election “the most important of our lives,” which, depending on one’s age, may or may not be an overstatement. But it’s an expression of how many people, including the 10,000-plus who’ve volunteered for his campaign, conceive of it. In supporting O’Rourke, they’re supporting a different vision of both Texas and the United States — one, as O’Rourke emphasizes, in which politicians show up to listen to all citizens, no matter their political inclination, or the size of their town, or their ability to donate to the campaign. One in which Texas — one of the most diverse states in the nation — models an empathetic, progressive way forward for a divided country…

Speaking with dozens of hopeful supporters over five days in West Central Texas, it’s clear that the enthusiasm and organization around O’Rourke’s campaign is there. And based on conversations with independent and Republican voters at his events, his message is traveling beyond progressive bubbles. He’s in small towns like Iraan, population 1,236, talking to a dozen people about rural issues like broadband internet; he’s filling theaters in bright red cities like Abilene. He has a veritable army of volunteers. But there’s a gap between energy and obtaining the kind of power that can effect change, and it’s one that it’ll take more than a “blue wave” to fill. It’s not just about convincing voters to swing O’Rourke’s way. It’s about convincing people to vote, period.

Like so many other blue-wave candidates across the US during these midterm elections, O’Rourke must convince nonvoters that voting actually matters — that they have the capacity to change their own lives and the lives of those around them. Texas is an enormous and varied state, and one that — no matter how purple its political demographics might seem — still votes red. How many shirts must O’Rourke sweat through to win its heart?…

Goal Thermometer






120 replies
  1. 1
    Immanentize says:

    Completely anec-data; but I was just visiting my in-laws in Richmond, Texas. They live in one of those developments with curved streets and man-made lakes. Mostly professionals — office workers, doctors, teachers, police, etc. Not super rich but solidly middle class. It is just west of Sugarland and is in Tom Delay’s old district. Two to one Beto signs in the yards. That was just weird to me, but it made me happy.

  2. 2
    MisterForkbeard says:

    I need to ask my friends in Texas about Beto – I’ll be there in October for a week or so, right in the middle of election season. Maybe I’ll see if Beto’s going to have any events near Austin in that timeframe.

    Most of my friends out there have been continually embarrassed by Cruz, Perry, etc. So I’m curious to see if they know much about Beto.

  3. 3
    randy khan says:

    I have no idea if he can win (and I’m trying to remember to avoid clouding my mind with my own reaction to Ted Cruz), but I do think there potentially is something in the idea of adopting “a different vision of both Texas and the United States . . . in which politicians show up to listen to all citizens, no matter their political inclination, or the size of their town, or their ability to donate to the campaign.” Cruz pretty obviously is entirely uninterested in that stuff, and it seems sometimes he isn’t even interested in listening to people on his side. It feels like a possible opening.

  4. 4
    Corner Stone says:

    Anyone in TX who has not been to a Beto rally should make an effort. He gives good retail politics. I’ve seen him twice and my mom has also once, as she doesn’t do crowds well. She also gave him some money which is also out of the norm. Of course, she, like all right minded people, would not call 9 uno uno if Cruz got ran over by an F250 in a Whataburger parking lot, by accident, one day.

  5. 5
    MattF says:

    I have an old friend who lives in Austin… no doubts about her views. But the question is– how’s Beto doing outside of the few true-blue enclaves that everyone knows about? I have to say that the notion of Cruz being worried about his re-election fills me with such glee that I can’t really be objective about it.

  6. 6
    tobie says:

    “Listening” to your constituents has become a real theme in campaigns this season. Sharice Davids has been hitting this point, too. I think it’s a good argument to make. So many Congressional Republicans don’t even hold in-person, open-to-the-public town halls any longer. What are they afraid of? The people they’re supposed to represent?

  7. 7
    Gremcat says:

    Does anyone know if there are going to be any debates between Beto and Cruz.

  8. 8
    Gelfling 545 says:

    Are he and Cruz still talking about a debate? Because just seeing him and Cruz side by side should convince most voters.

  9. 9
    zhena gogolia says:

    I was very impressed by the clip that [Yarrow?] and BC posted yesterday, of him giving a long, thoughtful answer about “taking a knee.” I thought it was definitely Obama-quality.

  10. 10
    J R in WV says:

    @Immanentize:

    “Two to one Beto signs in the yards.”

    That’s pretty encouraging, that right there. Neighbors influence their neighbors, and obviously some of the neighbors intend to vote for the Democratic candidate, even after all the swirling lies being told about the Demonrats by the “Vote R for Russia” republicans.

  11. 11
    cain says:

    It always amazes me the kind of folks that we Democrats bring to the table when it comes to politics. Obama, Beto, Warren etc. Almost always they talk about the positive things about America. Meanwhile, the republicans always talk about the politics of white resentment. It must really suck to be a Republican always surrounded by negativity.

  12. 12
    Corner Stone says:

    @MattF:

    But the question is– how’s Beto doing outside of the few true-blue enclaves that everyone knows about?

    As I am sure he knows far better than we do, Beto’s win will live or die on turnout in South Texas and border adjacent communities. The blue islands will turn out for Beto, as even though there’s a few small pockets in/around Houston who support Cruz, everyone else hates his fucking guts.

  13. 13
    Corner Stone says:

    According to MSNBC, AMI (Nat’l Enquirer) Chief David Pecker has slipped on the condom of immunity from prosecutors.

  14. 14
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Gremcat: @Gelfling 545: Yes. Beto and Cruz have agreed to… I think five debates in total. No idea when or what format.

    @tobie: Republicans have literally been avoiding townhalls for years now. Even in deep red areas, you get cornered with a lot of hard and non-media friendly questions like “Why are you trying to take healthcare away from my sick kid with cancer?” or “Why did your tax cut give a huge amount of money to rich people but isn’t benefitting the economy?”… and those are from non-supporters. Even supporters can embarrass with tongue-bathing questions about Trump, or with requests to expound about abortion and how awful liberals and black people are… which looks really bad on tape in the general election.

    So they’re trying for pre-screened groups and questions and that’s it. There are a few exceptions, but this appears to be the case even in very red districts.

  15. 15
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Corner Stone: Is that a cooperation deal, or is it just “Pecker is squealing to the feds”?

  16. 16
    Patricia Kayden says:

    O’Rourke’s defense of NFL players is epic. That’s how you tackle a controversial issue. Hope he wins.

  17. 17
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    Beto IS the real thing. El Paso loves him, and we’re very familiar with him across the border in NM. He definitely has a great future in solid Democratic party politics. But El Paso is not demographically or politically Texas.

    As great for TX and America as Beto is, Texas is so rigged right now with the solid Republican vote he really is an underdog, even with the good polling coming back. Never forget almost 80% of Republicans always vote and always vote party line, period. It’s a cult religion, not a party we’re trying to beat. And no matter how hard the Dems have worked there in the past, we need to admit that if our registered voters actually went out and voted, we’d have swung TX back a long time ago. Getting out the vote is more important than ever this year.

    A lot of R’s who will vote for Cruz will do so only out of party loyalty and will hold their noses in the process. Most see him for the turd he is. Beto needs to be able to get out and talk directly to the people–the handful in the cross over zone- so that they can see his great qualities. That’s what it’ll take to get the majority. Dems voting and a handful of R’s/Indy’s crossing over to him.

    More money will definitely help him. Just gave him $25.

  18. 18
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Corner Stone: You mean that prosecutors have given him immunity and he’s singing like a canary? Good.

  19. 19
    Immanentize says:

    @J R in WV: Yes, and this was three months out from the election!

  20. 20
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I’ve been noticing in the supermarket checkout lately that they have stopped pushing the Trump line. They’re back to near-dead celebrities.

  21. 21
    Snoopy says:

    For some inexplicable reason, Cruz decided to call Beto a “Whataburger liberal”. For those outside of Texas, there’s almost nothing more Texan than Whataburger.
    It’s kinda like saying, he’s so liberal that he remembers the alamo!
    If these are Cruz’s messaging skills, we’ll have Senator O’Rourke soon.

    https://www.texasmonthly.com/the-culture/cruz-orourke-whataburger-liberal/

  22. 22
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Patricia Kayden: I’m surprised this response went viral, actually. It was fantastic (and respectful, in a way that’s very hard to do when you’re dealing with obvious racists) but he did very well. But at 4+ minutes it seemed like it was too long to get a lot of attention.

    The fact that it DID go viral (or somewhat viral) despite the length illustrates how good of a response it was.

  23. 23
    Martin says:

    @Corner Stone: Given the number of mistress payouts among this crowd, I have strong doubts any of them knows how to use a condom.

  24. 24
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Snoopy: Well, it’s not like conservative epithets actually have to make sense. The important thing is that Cruz got the word “liberal” in there with a smarmy tone and a phrase that sounds like it should be clever, even though it isn’t. That’s enough for his base.

  25. 25
    Immanentize says:

    @MisterForkbeard: Cruz wanted five debates — have they agreed on that? Cruz thinks he is a master (de)bater — but his performances in 2016 really grated on me. Smarmy and shallow. I wonder whether he will take that same tack with O’Rourke? Will Cruz play up or play down his Hispanic heritage? Let me tell you, (generalization of course) Tex-Mexicans HATE Cuban-Americans.

    Also noteworthy — everyone calls O’Rourke “Beto” while everyone calls Ted, “Cruz”. It’s funny.

  26. 26
    Martin says:

    @Patricia Kayden: And Pecker might have immunity, but AMI doesn’t. It’s looking increasingly likely that the NY AG is going to start dismantling Trump International, and AMI is also based in NYC, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see them get dismantled as well.

  27. 27
    comrade scotts agenda of rage says:

    @MisterForkbeard:

    Republicans have literally been avoiding townhalls for years now. Even in deep red areas, you get cornered with a lot of hard and non-media friendly questions like “Why are you trying to take healthcare away from my sick kid with cancer?” or “Why did your tax cut give a huge amount of money to rich people but isn’t benefitting the economy?”… and those are from non-supporters. Even supporters can embarrass with tongue-bathing questions about Trump, or with requests to expound about abortion and how awful liberals and black people are… which looks really bad on tape in the general election. So they’re trying for pre-screened groups and questions and that’s it. There are a few exceptions, but this appears to be the case even in very red districts.

    This is how McCaskill has been campaigning here in Misery since Roy Phucking Blunt was re-elected. She does into blood-red districts and asks “when was the last time you saw your other Senator here?”

    It won’t move the blood-red, batshit insane wingnuts in rurl Misery who hate her guts but it’s pretty effective in getting low-iniative, “casual” Dems in those areas to vote. She’s not gonna win those counties (mine is either the reddest or second reddest in the state). What she wants to do is lose them 60-40 instead of 80-20. The demographics in these static, rurl counties don’t change so the votes are there, it’s just a question of asking for them which is what these town halls represent.

    That and her political superpowers are a) running in wave election years, or b) having an incompetent opponent. This year it’s A.

    The fact that Beto goes to those bumphuck rurl towns of 1200 means he’s using a similar template. Then you GOTV like hell in what blue pockets that exist and hope you can squeak out a 50% +1 victory.

  28. 28
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gremcat: Beto initially challenged Cruz to six, with one of those in Spanish. Cruz ignored him until the end of last month when he suddenly challenged Beto to five debates in English (because Cruz’s Spanish is no bueno) as if Beto hadn’t already challenged him. The take, among campaigning and polling specialists, is that as interesting as the public polling looks, Cruz’s internal polling must be horrified if he swings from ignoring Beto to suddenly challenging him like he came up with the idea.

  29. 29
    sukabi says:

    @Corner Stone: “slipped on the condom of immunity” — that statement has a banana peel feel as is fitting for this clown show.

  30. 30
    kindness says:

    This is an Act Blue I can get behind. I don’t have the ability to give to everyone but Beta is one I have. Thanks for putting this up.

  31. 31
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @cain: Fear is a powerful motivator.

    It is also the only thing we have to fear.

    And it is the little death.

  32. 32
    catclub says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Chief David Pecker has slipped on the condom of immunity from prosecutors.

    1. Chief David Pecker has slipped [and fallen], on the condom of immunity, from prosecutors.

    2. Chief David Pecker has slipped on the condom of immunity, from prosecutors.

    here’s hoping for #1

  33. 33
    Sandia Blanca says:

    Austinite here, reporting that Beto signs are out by the hundreds, in yards and on bumpers. Yes, we are reliably blue, but the level of enthusiasm for Beto is exceptionally high. You should follow him on Twitter–he posts frequently, and the other day posted a video of himself stopping at a laundromat and doing his laundry while on the road. He made even that look interesting! I’ve seen only one Ted Cruz yard sign, and zero bumper stickers.

  34. 34
    kindness says:

    @kindness: Beto. Duh.

  35. 35
    Immanentize says:

    @Adam L Silverman: This is accurate — Cruz I am sure had no plan for any debates until the race tightened significantly. The rule of thumb is that the person trailing begs for debates.

  36. 36
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: He had no choice. Despite a couple of people trying to spin it, this is not a 1st Amendment issue where he could claim its protections as a publisher. He’s implicated in a plea allocution accepted by a Federal judge, in a conspiracy involving campaign financing, which was done in such a way that AMI was functioning as a money laundry. At this point he either cooperates or he loses everything.

  37. 37
    Immanentize says:

    @Adam L Silverman: And Beto should insist one debate is in Spanish. And the others in English, because Cruz plans to debate in ‘assholish’ each time.

  38. 38
    Immanentize says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    And it is the little death.

    Hmmmm. I think the “little death” is traditionally considered something other than fear….

  39. 39
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Immanentize:

    Will Cruz play up or play down his Hispanic heritage? Let me tell you, (generalization of course) Tex-Mexicans HATE Cuban-Americans.

    Only in American can a Cuban-Canadian move to Texas and become a white supremacist. Is this a great country or what?

  40. 40
    Corner Stone says:

    @MisterForkbeard: I don’t think anyone knows at this point. But if Rick Wilson is right and there are at *least* a dozen women who have been paid hush money then AMI seems likely to have played some role in a few of them. In this specific case, my IMO is that Pecker has documented dirt on both Cohen and Trump about payments to sway the election. Good motivation for Cohen to stay true to his plea and even better, Trump can’t stop his stupid butthole mouth from burning his own ass.

  41. 41
    AnotherBruce says:

    @Immanentize: “Little death” Make sure to put on the condom of immunity if you experience it.

  42. 42
    Corner Stone says:

    @Patricia Kayden: I hope Pecker is singing like one of Subaru Dianne’s favorite opera leads.

  43. 43
    Anonymous At Work says:

    Shouldn’t joke about Cruz getting hit by a car. Bad taste and it’s cruel and it means reality is a let-down.

  44. 44
    pamelabrown53 says:

    @Ella in New Mexico: #17.

    Loved your comment. I lived in El Paso for 12 years (left in Dec. of ’95) and always thought it should secede to New Mexico! Still, I’m more hopeful than Ive been in a long tome. Beto is charismatic, intelligent and seems to embody integrity. Maybe in a wave election, he can win as Cruz is just so odious that hopefully enough independents, soft republicans, WOMEN can help him reach the 50 + !. Rarely have I heard as much buzz for a candidate outside his/her state.

    Time to donate!

  45. 45
    Anonymous At Work says:

    @MisterForkbeard: Let’s not get our hopes up about debates. Ted Cruz was loathed even in college but he was on the Harvard debating team for a reason.

  46. 46
    Betty Cracker says:

    My favorite “Cruz attacks Beto, steps on rake” story is when the Raphael “Ted” Cruz campaign implied that Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke took that nickname to “sound Mexican” so the godless libs would like him. O’Rourke responded with the following:

    Does anyone know if O’Rourke gave up his congressional seat to run for the senate?

  47. 47
    Corner Stone says:

    @MisterForkbeard:

    The important thing is that Cruz got the word “liberal” in there with a smarmy tone and a phrase that sounds like it should be clever, even though it isn’t. That’s enough for his base.

    The word “liberal” is a good one but even then people are going to be like, “Umm, three generations of my family were raised on Whataburger. Am I secretly liberal and didn’t know it all these years?!”

  48. 48
    Aleta says:

    Some interesting things in this WaPo article, but I feel like “reframing” it, to borrow their term.

    Home study for politicians, companies, agencies, administrators, spokespeople, PR heads: How to Blatantly Lie from High Office while Escaping Media Label ‘Lies/Liar’

    Bonus material for media: How to explain yourself after reporting 2-4 years of continuous blatant lies

    I. State conclusion:

    It’s now clear that the president’s statement was a lie — and that the people speaking for him repeated it.

    II. Intro:

    One of the distinguishing characteristics of Donald Trump’s presidency has been his loose relationship with facts. As of the beginning of this month, The Washington Post’s Fact Checker had documented 4,229 false or misleading claims from the president — an average of nearly 7.6 a day.
    Trump’s allies : facts are debatable.
    One aide early on: he operates with “alternative facts.”
    Aug. 19 Giuliani : “Truth isn’t truth.”
    President’s critics: demand that they be called “lies.”

    The (WaPo) Fact Checker has been hesitant to go that far, as it is difficult to document whether the president knows he is not telling the truth.

    III. Lengthy chronology of public lies vs ‘what we know now.’ Credit media for work.

    IV. Close
    Print T’s rebuttal. Call it reframing. Use “denial” and “deception” instead of “lies.” Close with “still not telling the truth.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/08/23/not-just-misleading-not-merely-false-lie/?utm_term=.bfce71a8090f&noredirect=on

  49. 49

    @Anonymous At Work:

    Shouldn’t joke about Cruz getting hit by a car. Bad taste and it’s cruel and it means reality is a let-down.

    We’re talking Ted Cruz here.

  50. 50
    Kristine says:

    Can I ask OT questions? Has Mueller interviewed Pence yet–I can’t find any info via search. If not, does that mean he’s a target?

  51. 51
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @comrade scotts agenda of rage: Given your current nym, I think this is meant for you:

    “With blood and rage of crimson red,

    Ripped from a corpse so freshly dead,

    Together with our hellish hate,

    We’ll burn you all–that is your fate!”

  52. 52
    piratedan says:

    @Adam L Silverman: if only DJT was the GOP’s gom jabbar…..

  53. 53

    @Anonymous At Work: Yes, we all know that Ted was a good debater, possibly even a master at debate.

  54. 54
    Gvg says:

    @Immanentize: that’s a quote from Dune.

  55. 55
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Immanentize: Yep. His internal polling must be horrible.

  56. 56
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:
    You mean he was a master debater?

  57. 57
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Immanentize:

    I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

  58. 58

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: Well you could say that, I was a debater in high school, but not at the level of Ted Cruz.

  59. 59
    Ruckus says:

    @MisterForkbeard:
    Long answers aren’t the problem in my mind. It’s that a lot of long answers by politicians are just BS followed by more BS, canned answers that say nothing and insult your intelligence. People will listen to long answers that don’t do that.

  60. 60
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Anonymous At Work: Also, it is unfair to the car.

  61. 61
    Josie says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Does anyone know if O’Rourke gave up his congressional seat to run for the senate?

    Yes, he did.

  62. 62
    Jeffro says:

    I am currently killing time while many many walks around checking out his class schedule for the coming year, but is soon as I am home I am posting a link and excerpt from Alexandra petri’s most excellent piece today in the Post

    “ perhaps I didn’t hire the best people “ or something like that

    A masterpiece!

    Also I see that Twitler I is now reduced to saying “you better not impeach me or the economy gets it”. You know, just like most innocent people do

  63. 63
    Jeffro says:

    @Jeffro: “many many” = “mini me”

    Stupid iPhone

  64. 64
    rp says:

    @Adam L Silverman: And the mind-killer!

  65. 65
    pamelabrown53 says:

    @Anonymous At Work: #45.

    Well, My hopes are sky-high. and I won’t allow you to dampen my enthusiasm. College debates are very rule oriented. We have a candidate who has humor, intelligence and doesn’t look like Joe McCarthy on our side. No Fear!

  66. 66
    Dupe1970 says:

    Beto has one big problem in Texas. Straight ticket voting and Greg Abbott being at the top of the ballot.

  67. 67
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @piratedan: Between the hair, the belt line, and being mule stupid he’s a Harkonnen; specifically Glossu, “the Beast” Rabban, the Count of Lankevil.

  68. 68
    Corner Stone says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Ah, don’t sell yourself short.

  69. 69
    MattF says:

    @Aleta: I guess that the long-time, up-close and personal, observation of Trump’s lies has finally gotten to Kessler.

  70. 70
    Immanentize says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Ahhh, the Bene Gesserits…. They knew about sex as well, maybe they were improvising?

  71. 71
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Immanentize: I don’t know.

  72. 72
    MattF says:

    @Jeffro: Link: here. Impressively long list of not-the-best-people.

  73. 73
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Immanentize:
    Is our Texans learning?

  74. 74
    PST says:

    @Anonymous At Work:

    Let’s not get our hopes up about debates. Ted Cruz was loathed even in college but he was on the Harvard debating team for a reason.

    No way! Not at Harvard and not real (policy) debate. So called parliamentary debate as practiced at Princeton, Ted’s Alma mater, was a gentlemanly pastime for boys and girls who lacked the drive and skills to compete in policy debate at the college level.

  75. 75
    Mnemosyne says:

    @tobie:

    Here in deep blue Southern California, my Democratic House rep, Brad Sherman, sends out postcards advertising his town halls that feature his constituent relations staffers standing by to help anyone who needs it.

    It’s a pretty big contrast.

  76. 76
    randy khan says:

    @Anonymous At Work:

    Let’s not get our hopes up about debates. Ted Cruz was loathed even in college but he was on the Harvard debating team for a reason.

    Reports – both in the press and from someone I know who was on the parliamentary debate* circuit with him – are that he was fond of extreme tactics that work in a controlled environment where you are trying to score specific kinds of points with judges. From what I’ve seen of him in political debates, he’s not particularly good at those.

    *Obligatory disclaimer: There are many flavors of college debate competition, and the ones that I was involved in were universally disdainful of parliamentary debate (likely a view that went both ways!), so I may have a bias about that particular activity.

  77. 77
    randy khan says:

    @PST:

    No way! Not at Harvard and not real (policy) debate. So called parliamentary debate as practiced at Princeton, Ted’s Alma mater, was a gentlemanly pastime for boys and girls who lacked the drive and skills to compete in policy debate at the college level.

    The people I know who did parli would have something very cutting and clever to say to you about that, although it might not have anything to do with your point. (Inside debate joke – I couldn’t resist.)

  78. 78
    randy khan says:

    @Immanentize:

    Ahhh, the Bene Gesserits…. They knew about sex as well, maybe they were improvising?

    They would be appalled at the idea of improvising.

  79. 79
    MagdaInBlack says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    That little Dune “saying” has gotten me thru a lot of bad times.

  80. 80
    catclub says:

    @Kristine: Paul Manafort did a couple of major notable things while he was Trump’s campaign chief.
    1. Got the GOP to change their platform on Ukraine and Russia – to favor Russia.
    2. Hired Mike Pence.

    He also offered to work for free, while he was trying to get loans for living expenses – how was he profiting from the Trump campaign job?
    Consulting for Deripaska?

  81. 81
    trollhattan says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    “Fake news!”

    Sounds like “Ted” has his hands full and how the hell did heRafael think he was getting away with this line of attack? BTW, I can’t hear about Rafael without thinking of this.

  82. 82

    @randy khan:
    Academic debate is not necessarily applicable to real world debate attempting to influence a public audience, and Cruz is the poster boy for having great academic skills but being dumb as a stump outside that controlled, rules-heavy environment.

  83. 83
    A Ghost To Most says:

    Something seems to be up between Shitler and Sessions. Lindsey Graham just implied there may be a move towards replacing Yosemite Sam.

  84. 84
    evodevo says:

    @Immanentize: Sleep was referred to as ‘the little death’ from the time of antiquity I think …”la petite mort” – I know it goes back to Edgar Allen Poe, but I don’t remember the ancient quotes

  85. 85
    Bex says:

    Headline at Huff Po: Report: Trump Loses Pecker.

  86. 86
    Kelly says:

    @Adam L Silverman: As a teenager discovering difficult outdoor adventures in out local mountains and rivers I would run that thru my mind when I was pushing thru things that scared me.

  87. 87
    Mary G says:

    I’ve been following Beto on Twitter for over a year, and I’ve seen him go from four people, three of them hostile, in a coffee shop in a tiny town, to mobs and mobs wherever he goes. I have a good feeling about him. Even if he doesn’t win, he will have caused the Republicans and their billionaires a ton of money they didn’t think they would have to spend. I’ve told the story here before about my San Francisco friends who are good NPR-loving Democrats who just aren’t tuned in and repeat Republican talking points even as they give money to their rep Nancy Smash.

    They were bitching about Bernie, Biden, and Warren being too old and uninspiring and I told them about Jason Kander and Beto. They did the unthinkable and got their phones and started reading about them right there at the dinner table. Jason they liked, but Beto they swooned over, and I’m sure they are donating to him.

  88. 88
    Anonymous At Work says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Anyone else, it’s be in bad taste and cruel. But joking that Ted Cruz got hit by a truck is also disappointing when compared to reality.

  89. 89
    Leto says:

    @A Ghost To Most: Sessions defends himself from President Trump’s criticism, saying the Justice Department ‘will not be improperly influenced by political considerations’

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushed back forcefully Thursday against fresh criticism from President Trump, saying the Justice Department would not be “improperly influenced by political considerations.”

    The extraordinary statement came hours after Trump lashed out anew at Sessions, saying he had failed to take control of the Justice Department and was given his job only because of his loyalty during the 2016 campaign.

    Following Trump’s comments in a morning television interview, two leading Republican senators suggested he could be replaced later this fall.

    …..

    “And by the way, he was on the campaign,” Trump said on Fox. “You know, the only reason I gave him the job is because I felt loyalty. He was an original supporter.”

    ….

    After the interview, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters that he thinks it’s “very likely” Trump will replace Sessions but cautioned against doing so before the midterm elections.

    “The president’s entitled to an attorney general he has faith in, somebody that’s qualified for the job, and I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice,” Graham said. “Clearly, Attorney General Sessions doesn’t have the confidence of the president.”

    Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said Thursday that he could find time to hold hearings on a new nominee later this year after the Senate votes on Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh.

    …..

    Asked whether he still has confidence in Sessions, Grassley said: “Let’s put it this way, he’s a good friend.”

  90. 90
    Anonymous At Work says:

    @PST: As a committed LD’er, I have nothing but scorn for CXer’s. I didn’t know which he participated in, LD, CX or Parliamentary, but Cruz is a horrible facsimile of a human being but he ain’t dumb.

  91. 91

    @Mary G: Not to be shallow but he is kinda cute, RFK esque. I have been following his Twitter feed since the story about children separated from their parents who were seeking asylum at the border broke out earlier this summer.

  92. 92
    NotMax says:

    OT.

    For those playing at home, a recent map. Lane has slowed to shambling along at a desultory 7 mph.

    Some reports of a foot or more of rainfall already on the Big Island.

  93. 93
    randy khan says:

    A juror on the Manafort jury spoke to Fox – there was a lone holdout against conviction on the 10 counts.

    And if you want a tiny bit of faith in the jury system, the woman who spoke to Fox literally (she says) wore a MAGA hat in the car on her way to the trial each day, but she said the evidence was overwhelming in favor of conviction.

    Not a link to Fox, I promise.

  94. 94
    Cermet says:

    Wow, Pecker (what a perfect name) the top dog in the national enquirer and insider on the payoff deal appears to be turning states evidence! He isn’t exchanging for any lighter sentence nor someone who has proven a liar. He and Cohen make perfect bookends showing the wet fart cloud is a liar and felon (assuming this isn’t russian fake news to get dems stirred up with false facts.) Now the orange wet fart turd is threating to fire sessions! Wow, that will piss off some senate repu-a-turds royally.

  95. 95
    randy khan says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Oh, absolutely. Academic debate is pretty good training for annoying other people, though.

  96. 96
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Leto: Thanks. I just heard it on MSNBC, but my brain was otherwise engaged.

  97. 97
    Amir Khalid says:

    @evodevo:
    I think Shakespeare uses “The little death” as a euphemism for orgasm.

  98. 98
    Leto says:

    @randy khan: She also said that she saw prosecutors asleep during the trial. In such a high profile case as this, would that have happened? Would the asshole on the bench allowed that to happen?

  99. 99
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @evodevo: I don’t think he was talking about sleep…

  100. 100
    Leto says:

    @Leto:

    “Let’s put it this way, he’s a good friend.”

    The slow blade penetrates the shield.

  101. 101
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Amir Khalid: The only reason you got in ahead of me is because you’re already in tomorrow, and I’m still in today.

  102. 102
    rikyrah says:

    @Corner Stone:

    According to MSNBC, AMI (Nat’l Enquirer) Chief David Pecker has slipped on the condom of immunity from prosecutors.

    You have a way with words….

    LOL

  103. 103
    Mary G says:

    Gabriel Sherman in Vanity Fair: Trump trying to find ways to distract voters:

    Trump, meanwhile, is struggling to develop a strategy to push back on the damaging headlines. He largely avoided the topic of Cohen and Paul Manafort during his relatively subdued rally on Tuesday night in West Virginia. On Wednesday, he gave a meandering interview to Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt, in which he suggested the stock market might crash were he to be impeached. One source close to the White House said Trump is considering announcing he’s revoked additional security clearances to create a new story line. The source added that Trump is even considering taking clearances from former members of his administration, including former national security adviser H.R. McMaster and secretary of state Rex Tillerson.

    This, NFL players kneeling, and the “South Africa is killing white people” gambits seem weak. It was so rude of Mollie Tibbett’s family to tell bigots off! That one coulda been a winner.//

  104. 104
    Corner Stone says:

    Somebody seriously needs to give Steve Kornacki the Mother of All Wedgies.

  105. 105
    Kristine says:

    @catclub:

    Paul Manafort did a couple of major notable things while he was Trump’s campaign chief.
    1. Got the GOP to change their platform on Ukraine and Russia – to favor Russia.
    2. Hired Mike Pence.

    All that, I knew. I also keep seeing comments here and there about Pence keeping out of the spotlight, or flying under the radar.

    Maybe I’m just used to Tr*mp’s other cronies howling their innocence at every opportunity. Pence is the unnaturally silent one of the bunch, to the point that I sometimes wonder if he’s flipped. But it could also be that 1) he’s counting the days until Mueller summons him, 2) assumes his days are numbered and is getting as much done as possible, or 3) is biding his time because he knows in his heart that Jesus put him in that position to take over when The Orange One resigns.

  106. 106
    Billcoop4 says:

    A very goood friend was a debater at another Ivy League school—I won’t name it, but it’s near Long Island Sound between Brown and Columbia—when the Cruz person debated for Princeton (my friend’s debate partner and roommate at least for some of his time was one A. Goolsby).

    He laughs scoffingly when referring to Rafphael.

    BC

  107. 107
    trollhattan says:

    GQ ran a good article yesterday on the Cruz O’Rourke race. An excerpt.

    This pivot toward congeniality makes some sense for Cruz, who’s re-emerging from the humiliation of his 2016 loss to Trump—and no doubt looking to improve some dismal favorability numbers. No surprise then that this amiable side of Cruz was on display earlier in the day, inside Mama Jack’s, where he spent nearly a third of his 12-minute speech discussing a well-publicized charity basketball game he’d played against Jimmy Kimmel. But his constituents had more pressing concerns.

    When it came time for questions, one of the first, from an older woman, was about a recent viral video showing a man wearing a MAGA hat getting a drink lobbed in his face. It upset her.

    “All of us are horrified at how divided our society is. How much anger there is. It’s really sad to see,” Cruz told her. The senator, who for years was the most well-known plotter in the reactionary rebellion against President Barack Obama, seemed pained by the rancor of our times.

    Liberals had forgotten that “we live in a society where we can disagree with each other with civility. We can have fun; we can laugh! You don’t have to take yourself that seriously.”

    But this crowd was in a pretty serious mood. A man rose and began railing against the Deep State in alarming terms, mumbling something about Ruby Ridge. As Cruz listened, the man reasoned that the FBI was a greater threat to Americans than ISIS, because terrorists could be dispatched with violence, whereas “it’s against the law to shoot the FBI.”

    Cruz ditched his kumbaya act. “I share your frustration. And it is a frustration that millions across this country share,” he said. He pointed out that the FBI was awash in partisan shenanigans that required urgent attention: “I’m trying to do everything I can” to expose the lies of “[former FBI director] James Comey and [former FBI deputy director] Andrew McCabe.” The answer, Cruz said, was “to get rid of partisan players who are abusing their position and to restore the rule of law.” In other words, more purges. He’d help lead the way.

    For all the talk of image softening, here was Cruz being Cruz. And if there’s one thing that unites those who aren’t fond of him—whether on the right or on the left—it’s the feeling that he’s playing a character, that he’s an insincere opportunist.

  108. 108
    NotMax says:

    @Corner Stone

    Reminded of this from 2015.

    An Oklahoma man was sentenced […] to 30 years in prison for asphyxiating his stepfather with an “atomic wedgie” in December 2013. Source

  109. 109
    randy khan says:

    @Leto:

    It seems unlikely.

  110. 110
    Josie says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I’d settle for stuffing a sock in his mouth.

  111. 111
    Leto says:

    @Kristine:

    3) is biding his time because he knows in his heart that Jesus put him in that position to take over when The Orange One resigns.

    That has been one of the evangelical selling points of Trumpov: they know that when he’s gone, Godly God man Pence will be there to lead us to Gilead the Holy Land of no abortions, no illegals, and only pure white for as far as the eye can see. They don’t factor in the Manafort angle, or the fact that he was lying about Flynn. He’s up to his eyeballs in all of this. They all are. Every last one of them is corrupt to the core.

  112. 112
    Calouste says:

    @Mary G: I wonder how long it will take for the shitgibbon to realize that it would be a really good distraction if he were to divorce Melania. The story would last for months. They could even reconcile at one point.

    Most watched soap opera ever.

  113. 113
    Corner Stone says:

    I know it’s not Breaking News but Trump is the dumbest man. No qualifiers.
    Who the F let him go on that Fox interview and say all that shit?

  114. 114
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Betty Cracker: That’s amazing. I like Beto the more I hear about him, and I was surprised to find that I really like his speaking style. Not so much “loftily inspiring” as “grounded and practically inspiring, but energetic and also knows his history”.

    It doesn’t grab you the way Obama did sometimes, but he’s kind of entrancing in his own way.

  115. 115
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Ruckus: It’s more that “long” answers don’t tend to go viral, because attention spans are so short. That’s why I was surprised by it.

  116. 116
    catclub says:

    @randy khan:

    the woman who spoke to Fox literally (she says) wore a MAGA hat in the car on her way to the trial

    funny how you got that.

    from the fox news article

    “Every day when I drove, I had my Make America Great Again hat in the backseat,” said Duncan, who said she plans to vote for Trump again in 2020. “Just as a reminder.”

  117. 117
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    @pamelabrown53:

    I lived in El Paso for 12 years (left in Dec. of ’95) and always thought it should secede to New Mexico!</blockquote

    I’ve thought that for years! You guys are so much more us than you are Texans. My deal would saw off heavy Republican areas in Eastern New Mexico in exchange-of course we’d lose our major source of income so that’s been probably a non-starter 😄😄😄

  118. 118
    WaterGirl says:

    @Martin: What is AMI?

  119. 119

    @Corner Stone:

    Ah, don’t sell yourself short.

    Well, I’m 5’4″ so…

  120. 120
    Procopius says:

    @Snoopy: I’ve never figured out how Cruz survives if everybody hates him so much. There’s something wrong with the story. Clearly, he gets people to cooperate with him, and he’s not just pushing things the leadership wants. This does not compute. Everybody says he’s smart, too, yet I’ve never seen anything from him that sounds smart to me.

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