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'Beto' was born to run -- as whatever you want him to be

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

SAN DIEGO -- The Enigma has entered the building.

In politics, if the media agrees with your views and you play nice with them, there springs forth a benevolent narrative that you're a "blank slate" where people can write whatever story they like. (See Barack Obama.)

But if the Fourth Estate opposes your policies and you pick fights with reporters, the narrative is much less kind. You're a phony, a charlatan, a conman who will be whatever people want you to be. (See Donald Trump).

Ready or not, we now have a candidate who appears to be a mixture of both.

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, Robert Francis O'Rourke has formally entered the 2020 presidential race. It's been quite a journey so far for the Irish-American son of El Paso county judge and county commissioner Pat O'Rourke, who once told reporters he gave his son the nickname "Beto" because he thought it might help get votes if he entered politics in a border state like Texas.

Pat O'Rourke was cynical as heck. He was also a genius. He knew the "Beto" moniker would pay ethnic dividends for his son -- twice.

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It would help the younger O'Rourke fool gullible Mexicans into thinking he was one of them -- and many do, from what I hear -- because we're already conditioned to the insult of white actors playing them on film (e.g.: Starring Marlon Brando as Emiliano Zapata).

But this stab at cultural appropriation also allows arrogant white liberals to feel as if they're progressive enough to vote for a Latino because they know in their heart that it's a safe choice, since they're really just voting for one of their own.

Upon hearing of the arrival of our savior, my first thought was: Why not wait until Cinco de Mayo? A fake Mexican holiday created by white people to sell beer is the perfect day to kick off the candidacy of a fake Mexican candidate adored by white liberals who don't mind the hard sell.

The marketing is hard-core. The media is pitching Beto like he's the last shot of tequila at one of those offensive frat parties you see around the country where, in order to get in, you have to don a sombrero, throw on a serape and imitate a Mexican.

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