The cover photo features O’Rourke in jeans, by a truck, on a dirt road, with an adorable (if somewhat dejected-looking) dog. He has his sleeves rolled up. His collar is blue. When wealthy politicians want to cultivate an “I’m Just A Regular American Guy” image (or journalists want to help them produce this image), this is what they do: a magazine cover showing the politician wearing work clothes. You can find similar cover photos of Ronald Reagan and John Edwards:
Vanity Fair, which does sometimes publish journalism, hasn’t put much effort into making this look like anything other than an unpaid campaign advertisement. Certainly, Leibovitz adores O’Rourke, and she speaks like a fan rather than photojournalist:
I was moved by his writing and who he was, and how he represented people he met. I can only respect someone who’s searching—someone who really is asking questions, and has the drive and the verve to get on the ground and go out.
The photos themselves are pure adulation. Beto making pancakes for his children. Beto playing music with them, Beatles poster and baby