A video clip posted on social media by Democratic politician Beto O’Rourke shows him at the dentist getting his teeth cleaned, a move that some critics mocked, while supporters embraced it as a reflection of real life (CHIP SOMODEVILLA)
Washington (AFP) – Dental visits are uncomfortable, personal affairs: mouths wide open, loud drills, drool. But a potential 2020 presidential candidate brought Americans into his dentist appointment through a Thursday social media post, drawing swift ridicule online.
Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman who became a rising star for the Democrats last year when he nearly won a Senate seat in ruby red Republican Texas, used his time in the dentist’s chair to highlight border issues during the ongoing partial US government shutdown.
“So, I’m here with Diana, my dental hygienist,” O’Rourke says to kick off the video he posted on Instagram, where he has 750,000 followers.
The clip shows O’Rourke wearing a protective green bib as Diana cleans his pearly whites with a polishing tool. She says she was born in O’Rourke’s hometown of El Paso, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant.
The border is “a beautiful community,” she says in the clip. “We all support each other. We love each other, and it’s not what everybody else thinks badly about us.”
President Donald Trump wants a wall along the Mexican border to block illegal immigrants whom he has sought to equate with crime, drugs and gangs. An impasse with lawmakers over funding for that wall has led to the nearly three-week long shutdown of some government services.
O’Rourke, 46, is among a cadre of fresh-faced US politicians who have become masters of social media in an increasingly digital age.
They include new congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and possible presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris. Their feeds are part political messaging, part photo-video diary in which an increasingly broad swathe of daily life is shared with followers.
Whether the strategy takes off or backfires has yet to be decided, but O’Rourke’s clip provoked a particular reaction on Twitter: too much information.
“I’m all for politicians posting their everyday lives on Instagram, but I really didn’t need to see Beto’s dentist appointment,” tweeted David Bria, chairman of the Young Democrats of Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Some supporters said the footage served its purpose of boosting O’Rourke’s name in the political discussion, months after his Senate campaign electrified many Democratic voters and put him on the list of viable presidential prospects.
Others called it cringe worthy pandering to social media-minded voters.
And one reporter from The Guardian managed to tweet what many online users were thinking: “God I hope Beto O’Rourke doesn’t need a colonoscopy anytime soon.”
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