Beto O’Rourke has some free time on his hands after last week’s tough Senate loss to Ted Cruz. So like many an underemployed, overeducated web user before him—OK, I guess he’s still a congressman—he is trying his hand at blogging. On Thursday, O’Rourke posted a 951-word account of his morning run to Medium, the “platisher” that fancy famous people tend to favor over screenshots of their iOS Notes app.
O’Rourke likes to document his life as it’s lived: Texas Monthly has written about his penchant for livestreaming, which the magazine thinks could help O’Rourke hold on to the attention of the supporters he impressed during his Senate run, both in Texas and elsewhere. And O’Rourke has previously focused most of his personal brand-building efforts on Instagram stories. But a long letter he sent out to his email list over the weekend hinted that he dabbles in prose as well as video, and this blog post provides more evidence of how the Beto persona translates to text. The piece begins:
I woke up after a good night’s sleep. Snow coming down in gentle big flakes. Salud was taking a shower, so I went downstairs to use the basement bathroom. Came back up and put my tights, shorts, long socks, tshirt and overshirt on. Hat and gloves, my running shoes and was outside by 7:45.
O’Rourke is very good on camera. But what to make of his writing? In short, if this guy were in my college creative writing seminar, I would be roasting him in a group text message with every woman in the class. (But several of those women would have a crush on him anyway, so I would have to start a splinter group for the real haters.) His descriptions and gestures at poetic language aren’t bad, exactly, but the stream-of-conscious sentence fragments all build toward a pseudo-profundity that screams both “19-year-old boy discovering the world” and “social media post you will quietly and ashamedly delete in a few years.”
I also take issue with the subject of the piece, a 7:45 a.m. run in Washington, D.C., on the first snowy day of the season. For such a famed political storyteller, it’s a little lazy he chose to write about exercising on a day when the weather could do all the symbolism for him. Fresh snow as metaphor for reconsidering the past and moving forward? You don’t say. So many of the details—the waking up early, the running even though barely anyone else is out because of the weather (“There were in some places no tracks, mine were the first footprints down in the new snow,” lol), the stopping to contemplate America and democracy (double lol)—paint him as a particularly corny, self-conceived political hero.
Still, I’d be lying if I said the piece isn’t an enjoyable adventure into a Democratic darling’s flowery head. If you don’t have 951 words in you, here are some other favorite passages. (Warning, they get a little steamy.)
As I ran northwest on Washington Ave, the snow was in my face, biting a little. Then full in my eyes so that I had a hard time seeing. I figured it would be that way for just a while until I turned due west once I got to the Mall.
We get it, you enjoy directions both cardinal and intercardinal.
My left knee started to hurt. It has been bothering me some, I notice it when I bend down or when I get up if I’ve been playing with the kids on the floor or kneeling to give Rosie some love.
Ladies, hot dad alert.
I got to the steps of the memorial and could hear the horses before I saw them. Their hooves echoing against all the marble walls and steps. Two mounted park police, blue helmets, black jackets worn like capes around their shoulders. Shrouded in snow that was heavier than before.
Worn like capes? Shrouded, you say? Damn.
I ran up the steps, another runner in front of me. When I got to the top he was finishing a short set of pushups. He got up quickly, we high fived as he headed back down the steps.
My body warm, blood flowing through me, moving my legs as I read, the words so present in a way that I can’t describe or explain except that I’m so much more alive in the middle of a run, and so are the words I was reading.
This is the part where things start to get uncomfortably hot and heavy! Fitness bro high fives, body, blood flow, leg movement—Beto, I don’t know if all your fans who are hot for you can take this! And yet it’s all building up to … reading the Lincoln Memorial. The ultimate climax. After which point it’s time to run away and confront a new direction, both actually and symbolically. Slow clap.
He takes us out:
The sleet stinging my face, I wondered if the winds had changed too.
If you think Slate’s election coverage matters…
Support our work: become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.Join Slate Plus