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Who was Beto O'Rourke? We still don't know.

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

SAN DIEGO -- Bye bye, Beto. Or, as they say in the universe of cultural appropriation, adios.

Last week, Robert Francis O'Rourke -- who had been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, profiled in an HBO documentary and featured on the cover of Vanity Fair declaring that he was "born" to make a White House bid -- announced that he was leaving the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

O'Rourke is the epitome of cultural appropriation. Not since Elvis Presley borrowed his songs and his swivel from lesser-known black performers in the 1950s -- i.e., "Hound Dog" from Big Mama Thornton, "Don't Be Cruel" from Otis Blackwell, etc. -- have Americans seen such a brazen grab at diversity born of entitlement.

During his short-lived presidential bid, which never caught fire and never should have been launched at all, O'Rourke displayed this odd tic. In debates, he liked to answer questions in Spanish -- even when the subject had nothing to do with Latinos.

How absurd. In a primary process where the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire are overwhelmingly white, here is this Texan speaking to, well, whom exactly?

The quirk caught the attention of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who thought it was "humorous" that the answer in Spanish often didn't match the question in English.

 

The language gimmick seemed phony, just like O'Rourke.

In his lyrics, Bruce Springsteen has described himself as a "rich man in a poor man's shirt."

That's Beto. A former English major at Columbia University who once played in a punk rock band and worked as a male nanny for a family on New York's Upper West Side, O'Rourke has a father-in-law who is a billionaire. He also has a personal net worth estimated at about $10 million.

Half of that amount came from real estate holdings he inherited from his father, Pat O'Rourke. The businessman and politician once told reporters that he gave his son that ethnic nickname because he thought it might help if the boy ever wanted to enter politics in the heavily Mexican American city of El Paso.

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