In the words of the greatest political mind of a decent generation, “I’m less visually observant than others, but I make up for it…with cunning and guile.”

I am The Son of Sam Seaborn#.

***

Like many others, I was first introduced to Beto O’Rourke when he and Republican congressman Will Hurd livestreamed their harrowing 1,600-mile road trip from San Antonio to D.C. in a rented Chevy Impala —

— and, like many others, I found myself immediately charmed by the authentic, plucky Texan.

Then, back in August, his compelling response to the NFL protests went viral —

— and, like many others, I felt the unmistakeable pang of hope.

Then his So-Hot-You-Sweat-Straight-Through-Your-Shirt rally tour rolled through my neighborhood —

— and, like many others, I became convinced he just might be able to wrench Texas from the desperate grasp of Ted Cruz.

However, when the above photo was taken at said sweat-drenched rally, unlike the many others who were content to fawn face to face over Beto’s populist economic agenda or his Medicare for All platform, I was whispering in the babyfaced El Pasoan’s ear that his old band Foss totally should have gone with “Fade” as their A-side instead of “Al Sobrante, Snowzone In His Pants, Got The Chutzpah Rolling.”

Because when you really love someone, it means telling them the truth; no matter how much it may hurt you, no matter how much it may hurt them:

And to tell the truth, this essay Beto published on Medium the other day is in dire need of an editor…


Written during what I can only assume was an endorphin rush mixed with the early stages of hypothermia, this untitled digital freewrite is a jumble of Hemingway curtness and Whitmanesque paean.

For example, this passage:

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. The men motionless on their slowly moving horses. Something timeless about them.

No writer should expect (most) readers to give that whole thing their undivided rapt attention.

And I get it. It’s supposed to be this raw because that’s how raw possible-presidential-candidate Beto O’Rourke is. And it’s supposed to be unpolished because possible-presidential-candidate Beto O’Rourke doesn’t care about being polished because he’s too busy caring about the hardworking American citizen who’s been forgotten while the same bankers who caused the Great Recession continue to enjoy tax cuts and salaries that could fund entire school districts. The same American citizen who’s been told they might have to decide between seeking the medical care they desperately need or feeding their children that week. The same American citizen who has been left behind during a time of unprecedented progress in this country and around the world, or whatever.

It’s like when former Governor Will Conway did that 24-hour call-in show on last season’s House of Cards. It helps establish a personal connection.

Community fans might know it as the “Steve the Pencil” principle:

However, for my own appeasement if nothing else, let’s just imagine what this poesy pastiche might look like if the Son of Sam Seaborn had the teensiest chance to polish it.

Just a light dusting, still keeping your imperfect “rawness” intact as much as possible.

Here we go…

 
“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. I was concerned that I might slip, that the ground would be too slick, but it was wet and grainy enough that traction wasn’t a problem.

Cold but not too cold.

As I ran northwest on Washington Ave, the snow was in my face, biting a little. Then full in my eyes so 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. Once on the Mall it was better, the snow hitting me from the right side, blowing almost due south.

There were in some places no tracks, mine were the first footprints down in the new snow. At other points I’d see someone walking in front of me, once a fellow stubborn runner (‘only the crazies come out today!’).

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. I thought about turning around once I got to the Washington monument. But as I was coming around the north side of it I passed another runner. He yelled out ‘Hey Beto!’ And I turned around and approached him and we shook hands. He apologetically told me that he was from Massachusetts and said ‘but thank you for being you.’ I said ‘that’s ok, we love Massachusetts too!’ And told him thanks and decided to run all the way to the Lincoln Memorial.

I passed someone running the other direction, shielding his face with his hand from the snow.

As I passed the World War II memorial there was a guy in front of me, running next to the reflecting pool towards the Lincoln memorial. I took the other path, enclosed by an arcade of trees. I figured it would shield me better from the snow that was hitting the side of my face. I saw him stretch out his arms as he ran as though to embrace the snow, the pool, the morning, the Lincoln memorial we could now see in front of us, life, and all the mystery of being alive.

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 heavier than before. The men motionless on their slowly moving horses. Something timeless about them. 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.

I walked over to the north wall and read Lincoln’s second inaugural address. My body warm, blood flowing through me, moving my legs as I read, the words so present in a way 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.

The words, describing the country in the midst of Civil War. The reasons for the war.

Slavery. The masterful, humble invocation of God. Acknowledging both sides invoke his name and saying of the South: ‘It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.’ That he could pronounce this judgement and then remind himself and us that we should not judge…

‘The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes’

He lays out an accounting for the original sin of our country — acknowledges this ghastly war is a reckoning, blood paid for blood.

‘Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’

I don’t know that a better speech has ever been written or given or recorded or made.

These words:

‘With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds…’

I walked down the steps, too slick to run down. Saw the mounted policemen again. Picked up my run as I headed due East, now on the south side of the reflecting pool. Snow in my face, the flakes smaller, more biting now, maybe sleet. It had changed. My knee no longer hurt, maybe it just needed to fully warm up. Ran next to and eventually passed a man who stopped from time to time to defrost his shoes on the grates and manhole covers, warmed by the subway tunnels underneath.

The sleet stinging my face, I wondered if the winds had changed too.”


 
What did I tell you? A light dusting.

Really, cantankerous nitpicks notwithstanding, the only changes worth tracking are…
 

  • A Better Utilization of Line Breaks
    • Beto obviously understands the power of line breaks — “The sleet stinging my face, I wondered if the winds had changed too” — so he should be taking full advantage of his chances to use them. Especially with his haphazard writing style, they can help emphasize the stuff he most wants emphasized.
      • Some places where I threw them in:
        • “Cold but not too cold.”
          • it helps introduce the ‘struggle/perseverance’ theme of the piece
        • “I passed someone running the other direction, shielding his face with his hand from the snow.”
          • it evokes that same ‘struggle/perseverance’ theme
        • “The words, describing the country in the midst of Civil War. The reasons for the war.”
          • it sets up the pivot point where Beto begins tying his symbolic bow

     

    • A Trimming Up of Those “That”s
      • To be fair, I’d argue ~65% of all “that”s are unnecessary. However, not counting the Lincoln quote, there were seventeen “that”s in the original piece. Even with me keeping some grammatically-incorrect ones in there for the sake of flow and/or tone, I was able to whet it down to nine.

     

    • A Look Into the “Passed”
      • Again, I get it. It’s supposed to be raw. It’s supposed to be authentic. But no possible-presidential-candidate should be mistaking “past” for “passed,” which Beto did in the penultimate paragraph.

     
    Lastly, I always suggest throwing in a picture at the end, like that snowblower one I inserted above. Not only does it look pretty, it helps tie a visual bow…

    Now go out there, Beto, and get on a ticket with Kamala before she gets wooed by Fightin’ Joe Biden!

    ***

    “I think you should. I think ambition is good. I think overreaching is good. I think giving people a vision of government that’s more than Social Security checks and debt reduction is good. I think government should be optimistic.” — Sam Seaborn