After Vanity Fair ran a puff piece on former Congressman Beto O’Rourke in which they posed him on their cover similar to a pose of President Ronald Reagan on a cover from Time magazine from yesteryear, one Twitter user noticed the similarity of poses and pictured the two covers side by side, prompting a hilarious response from Donald Trump Jr.: “Alpha meet Beta.”
Trump Jr. knew as well as anyone there would be no doubt in anyone’s mind just who was “Alpha” and who was “Beta.” Just to compare the two men’s rhetoric reveals how vastly different the two men are, and looking at the hardscrabble roots that propelled Reagan to become one of the greatest presidents in American history while O’Rourke’s navel-gazing, marrying into a multi-millionaire family story is a definite contrast.
But for the sake of clarity, here’s a comparison:
The straight-shooting of Reagan’s rhetoric:
On government: “Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves. Also: The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
On abortion: “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.”
On God: “If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be one nation gone under.”
On freedom in the United States: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
On Communism: “How do you tell a Communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”
On national borders: “A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.”
On the economy: “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
On the other hand, you have O’Rourke as a teenager, reportedly writing, “One day, as I was driving home from work, I noticed two children crossing the street. They were happy, happy to be free from their troubles …This happiness was mine by right. I had earned it in my dreams. As I neared the young ones, I put all my weight on my right foot, keeping the accelerator pedal on the floor until I heard the crashing of the two children on the hood, and then the sharp cry of pain from one of the two … I was so fascinated for a moment, that when after I had stopped my vehicle, I just sat in a daze, sweet visions filling my head.”
As a 46-year old man: “Have been stuck lately. In and out of a funk. Maybe if I get moving, on the road, meet people, learn about what’s going on where they live, have some adventure, go where I don’t know and I’m not known, it’ll clear my head.”
Even the left-leaning New Republic said of O’Rourke’s writing, “O’Rourke’s posts resemble sophomoric creative nonfiction. They’re maudlin, confusing the expression of emotion with profundity.”
O’Rourke grew up comfortably; his father Pat was a county commissioner and county judge in El Paso, Texas. At the age of 26 O’Rourke was arrested for drunk driving. He later married his wife, who is the daughter of a real estate tycoon worth a reported $500 million.
Reagan was born to a poor family where his father was a salesman who was an alcoholic; Reagan recalled one time having to drag his father into the house from the snow. As a terrific swimmer as a young man, he served six years as a lifeguard near the dangerous Rock River. Research and newspaper reports testify that he saved 77 people from drowning.
There are numerous stories of Reagan’s toughness; Peggy Noonan recalled 1981, after he had been shot and narrowly cheated death:
He tried to walk into the hospital himself but his knees buckled and he had to be helped. They put him on a gurney, and soon he started the one-liners. Quoting Churchill, he reminded everyone that there’s nothing so exhilarating as to be shot at without effect. To Mrs. Reagan, it was, “Honey, I forgot to duck.” To the doctors, “I just hope you’re Republicans.” To which one doctor replied, “Today Mr. President we’re all Republicans.” Maybe he caught Reagan’s courage too.
Here’s a sample from when he was governor of California:
He was alpha, all right.