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Monday, May 21, 2012

Democrats Ate Cory Booker Alive Over the Weekend

Posted by on Mon, May 21, 2012 at 1:14 PM

I didn't post about this earlier, because it's too depressing to think about. Here's Newark Mayor Cory Booker, launching a billion Democratic tweets on Meet the Press yesterday:

If you don't have video where you are, Booker is saying that Democratic attacks on Bain Capital should be off-limits, and he's defending private equity firms in general. This soundbite is part of a greater argument Booker is making about the political discourse getting out-of-hand. (He says that Reverend Wright attacks from the right are unacceptable, too.) I personally disagree with Booker; I think Romney is running away from his record as governor of Massachusetts and centering Bain Capital as the most relevant part of his resumé—sorry, but organizing a Winter Olympics should not automatically qualify you for Commander-in-Chief—and so Bain attacks are totally acceptable. But Democrats proceeded to tear Booker to bits all day Sunday, and it was a nasty affair. Irrelevant blowhard Keith Olbermann hilariously accused Booker of " believ[ing] in nothing but Cory Booker." Many others accused him of being a stooge for the Republican Party, and others stopped just short of calling for the death of private equity firms everywhere. By yesterday evening, Booker had produced an apologetic video walking back his comments. I've always admired Democrats' refusal to fall, creepily, in line on every single issue the way Republicans do. It's a weakness for the party within the 24-hour-media-cycle, but it's also a strength because it doesn't force us into stupid purity-test-style political traps.

Now, the Republicans are featuring Booker in ads and John McCain is publicly thanking him. This is a shrewd political move, because it increases resentment against a man who many—including myself—have said should be a serious Democratic presidential candidate within the next three election cycles. Republicans are playing chess here by trying to take down a major star of the party. And as a bonus, it plays Democrats against each other in a shrill, teabagger-style purity argument that the news networks will love rehashing for the next week or so.

There's a local angle to all this: On Friday, June 1st, Booker is scheduled to deliver a big speech at the Washington State Democratic Convention. When the speech was scheduled, Booker was a hero who saved people from burning buildings; now he's a controversial figure. I hope he goes through with this speech, and I hope that he's treated well, here. If Democrats persist in knocking around one of their stars for expressing an unpopular opinion, we'll be no better than the teabaggers who swallow their own moderates. Arguing that Booker is for the 1% and accusing him of being a sellout (or worse) is just ridiculous.


Comments (23) RSS

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You do realize, the stupidity of some responses to his statement don't mean his statement wasn't stupid. And that if Booker can't take the heat when he steps to the Obama campaign, he's not the guy we're all hoping he is.
Posted by gloomy gus on May 21, 2012 at 1:25 PM · Report this
If being opposed to vulture capitalism is a "stupid purity-test-style political trap," you might as well just endorse Romney and be done with it.
Posted by maddogm13 on May 21, 2012 at 1:28 PM · Report this
pdp 3
Sorry, Paul, but Booker's move was a classic of a certain kind of douchebag Democrat: someone positioning themselves as a "centrist" by denouncing both sides (can you say "false equivalence"?) and ultimately helping to neuter the Democratic party. He deserved to be denounced. He deserves to be denounced still. Can he possibly not understand the damage inflicted by Wall Street in general, and Bain in particular, on middle class Americans?
Posted by pdp on May 21, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
"This is a shrewd political move, because it increases resentment against a man who many—including myself—have said should be a serious Democratic presidential candidate within the next three election cycles."

That is your idea of a "serious Democratic presidential candidate"?

He doesn't even know what the CURRENT election is about.

"When the speech was scheduled, Booker was a hero who saved people from burning buildings; now he's a controversial figure."

And he can't be both ... because?
Personal bravery is NOT the same as political insight.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on May 21, 2012 at 1:36 PM · Report this
south downtown 5
a different view from Josh Marshall at TPM…
Posted by south downtown on May 21, 2012 at 1:43 PM · Report this
Good lesson for progressives vis a vis the Democratic party. If you want to keep win the approval of reporters, let stuff like this go unpunished. If you want to get wins on policy questions, don't.
Posted by Sullivan Hyde on May 21, 2012 at 1:47 PM · Report this
Mark in Colorado 7
Mr. Booker is far from being any kind of a real liberal champion.
Posted by Mark in Colorado on May 21, 2012 at 1:48 PM · Report this
Booker relies heavily on Wall Street money: over at Salon, Kornacki reports that one-quarter of Booker's funds for his 2002 race for Mayor came directly from Wall Street. And now he's trying to put off-limits one of THE critical attacks against the Republican candidate against Barack Obama. But no, he's not a "sellout" - no, heavens no - what a crazy assertion! Nor is Barack Obama, who received more Wall Street money than McCain and then appointed almost nothing but Wall Street executives to be his financial advisers and into positions of power.

As for your admiration for Democrats' "refusal to fall, creepily, in line on every single issue the way Republicans do", the country has shifted far to the right in the past 30 years on tax issues, exactly because the Republicans fall in line (under Grover Norquist) and the Democrats fail. So admire away, as the social safety net is utterly destroyed.
Posted by Ancient Sumerian on May 21, 2012 at 1:49 PM · Report this
Vince 9
I thought it showed an incredible lack of politcal savvy. And a sad compliment to Romney. But he's entitled to speak his mind and people can disagree. I see no civil war here.
Posted by Vince on May 21, 2012 at 1:49 PM · Report this
@5, that was great - thank you! TPM just this hour posted this, I see:
At a news conference wrapping the NATO summit in Chicago, President Obama was asked to respond to comments made by Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker, who criticized President Obama’s campaign for attacking Gov. Mitt Romney for his record at Bain Capital.
“Cory Booker is an outstanding mayor,” Obama said, “but it is important to recognize this issue is not a distraction. This is part of the debate we will be adding in this campaign about how do we create an economy where everybody from top to bottom, folks on wall street and main street, have a shot at success.”
“Understand that their priority is to maximize profits,” Obama added of those who work in private equity. “That is not always going to be good for communities or businesses or workers. The reason this is relevant to the campaign is because my opponent, Governor Romney, his main calling card for why he thinks he should be president is his business experience. He is not touting his experience in massachusetts. He is saying he is a business guy, and this is his business.”
“When you are president as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, job is not simply to maximize profits,” Obama continued. “Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country gets a fair shot.”
“If your main argument for how to grow in the economy is ‘I knew how to make a lot of money for investors’, then you are missing what this job is about,” Obama said. “That does not mean you are not good at private equity. That is not what my job is as president. My job is to take into account everybody, not just some.”…
Posted by gloomy gus on May 21, 2012 at 1:54 PM · Report this
The Max 11
Don't agree with Booker's opinion. He's wrong. On both counts. Both Rev. Wright and Bain Capital are fair game.

If Romney had been married by a minister who said, "God Damn America," I'd want to know precisely what influence that minister currently had over his life.

If Obama had led a Vulture Capitalist firm, I'd want to know specifics of his circling and eating sick companies through the asshole.

But if that's the worst thing Booker's said, it wouldn't, in and of itself dim my possible future enthusiastic support.

Might even help prying loose a few of those critical swing voters who thirst for a socially progressive business friendly candidate.
Posted by The Max on May 21, 2012 at 1:58 PM · Report this
Booker also supports a lot of the ed reform agenda that is just plain wrong. He should ask himself why so many parents in NJ are organizing against it.
Posted by westello on May 21, 2012 at 2:01 PM · Report this
Silly Dems, always trying to bring Marquess of Queensberry rules to a gun fight. Fight on the facts (personal only when hypocritical). "Romney would let Bin Laden live and Detroit die" has video to back it up, for the luv of gawd use it. Republics wouldn't even have this argument (unless they were caught).
Posted by Large Hardon Colluder on May 21, 2012 at 2:11 PM · Report this
OuterCow 14
The Democratic Party almost to a whole sold out long ago and they now primarily work to benefit the 1%. Sorry Charlie, but that's reality. Your steadfast arguing in the face of decades of evidence is what's actually fucking ridic here.

You do understand that the only reason we should support Democrats is if they'll fight for our interests and not just because they're Democrats, right Paul?
Posted by OuterCow on May 21, 2012 at 2:17 PM · Report this
Bain is on limits - as should the fact that Democrats are the biggest recipients of their campaign contributions; similar to the fact that Obama Wall Street's man in the last election.

In 2012, Slog should just redirect to the DNC or Obama campaign homepage. Reading constant petty apologetics of these ("lesser") evil warmongering shills for the rich and powerful is tedious, boring, disgusting and irrelevant.
Posted by Bain on May 21, 2012 at 2:22 PM · Report this
Booker is defending Capitalism and suggesting Obama not use one of the tools of Capitalism against Romney.

Obama isn't arguing against Capitalism. He's arguing that the job of the head of a venture captial firm is very different than the job of President.

These are two ships passing in the middle of the night. This is the perfect time in the election cycle to have this argument. It is also the perfect time for Obama to show the country he can keep his folks in line. This is a debate the Republicans aren't willing to have in public.

By the way, Booker is right about his main point: Sometimes companies become bloated and they need to lay off employees in order to become profittable. I doubt Obama disagrees with this.
Posted by six shooter on May 21, 2012 at 2:28 PM · Report this
CC-Rob 17
Defending the Center.... Check.
False Equivalency... Check...
Hippie punching.... Check..

Mr. Constant. You have a future career at the Times.. Keep up the great work!
Posted by CC-Rob on May 21, 2012 at 2:42 PM · Report this
Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report describes the role played by Cory Booker in the privatization of public education:…
Posted by anon1256 on May 21, 2012 at 2:52 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 19
Yeah, another false equivalence douche is not Presidential material. It's good to get him out of the running now and not waste any more time grooming him for the big leagues.

All this "no teabagger tactics" nonsense is like saying Democrats aren't allowed to Filibuster. Democrats aren't allowed to win? We are indeed allowed to play hardball and fight to win. If we learn winning from the teabaggers, then so much the better.

When Democrats win, it serves the poor and the middle class. That justifies what we do. When Republicans win, it serves the rich and the privileged, which makes their tactics all the more despicable.

See what I did there? It's called Democratic exceptionalism. We're better than they are and that excuses things that they should never get away with. This isn't a game: it's the 99% vs the 1% and the good guys have to win.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on May 21, 2012 at 3:23 PM · Report this
Excellent column Paul, stick it to the purity trolls and the dirty hippies
Posted by Democrat1234 on May 21, 2012 at 3:26 PM · Report this
@19 Your point would be much clearer if it weren't for the angry drums and human wails that distract me, when I read your name....
Posted by Large Hardon Colluder on May 21, 2012 at 3:48 PM · Report this
@16, "Obama isn't arguing against Capitalism. He's arguing that the job of the head of a venture captial firm is very different than the job of President."

That is indeed the parsing in the statements to the press but the Obama campaign ads about Bain and Romney go much further in pointing out the consequences of vulture capitalism for the population.
Posted by anon1256 on May 21, 2012 at 5:22 PM · Report this
The problem with Republican purification isn't that they're getting rid of people with diverse views, its that they're getting rid of people with relatively sane views. Ideological purification isn't an inherently bad thing.
Posted by 5000927 on May 22, 2012 at 10:57 PM · Report this

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