Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cory Booker can be wrong without being a "traitor"

So Mayor Cory Booker went on MTP this morning and said something dumb.

As Karoli has done at C&L, tell him it was a bad idea to say what he did.

But my twitter timeline is absolutely full of everything from calling Booker a traitor and yes, even a house negro, to saying he sold out and is likely waiting on a telephone call from Romney asking him to be his VP.

This is ridiculous folks. Why does someone disagreeing with us automatically invoke that kind of reaction? Its exactly what I was trying to write about yesterday.

I have tremendous respect for Steve Kornacki. But what he just wrote today about Cory Booker is wrong. First of all, since when does a hunger strike against open-air drug dealing and violence in public housing get reduced to "self-generated publicity?" If having friends from Ivy League schools and taking donations from elite donors is enough to tar a politician's reputation, then we're going to have trouble defending President (and Mrs.) Obama. And I'm not even going to go into the whole issue about the corrupt former Mayor, Sharpe James, that Booker defeated.

Before you go judging Booker as a sellout to Wall Street, please consider things like this:
  •  After getting his law degree from Yale, he didn't go after money. Instead he moved back to Newark and lived in Brick Towers, a low-income public housing complex, and ran for City Council.
  • President Obama offered Booker the position of being the first director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs and he turned it down...saying he hadn't finished his job in Newark yet.
Or go read what Baratunde Thurston said about Booker after following and studying him for over five years.

And finally, if you ever doubt Booker's commitment to the re-election of President Obama, take some time and watch him stumping for Obama 2012 recently in this speech in NH.

We're all human and therefore fallible. That includes people like Cory Booker. So get mad at him and tell him he was wrong. But there's no need to write him off as a traitor. 

I firmly believe that is one of the main things President Obama has been trying to teach us.
In fact, I would argue that the most powerful voices of change in the country, from Lincoln to King, have been those who can speak with the utmost conviction about the great issues of the day without ever belittling those who opposed them, and without denying the limits of their own perspectives.


  1. Sorry Smartpants, not buying this one. This was more than just a little difference of opinion & it certainly should not have been aired on public TV.

    I agree about the name calling & other nasty toward Booker but he needed the calling out for this disloyalty.

    I usually agree & appreciate what you write but can't agree with defending this self-serving opportunist, especially over this issue.


    1. Did you not see where I said what Booker did was "wrong" and "dumb?"

      What I don't get is - with all his history - why people let one incident like this convince you that he's a "self-serving opportunist."

      Seriously, that kind of reaction disturbs me.

    2. Sorry but "wrong & "dumb" could give us President Romney. What Booker did was not a "gaffe" or a "mistake" it was a serious piece of propaganda for the Republicans.

      And what makes you so damn sure that he is not buttering his bread for the Governorship or the Senate when he has already been one of the speakers at a Republican/Wall Street group supporting outsourcing of public education recently?

      I gave him the benefit of the doubt for that one but what he did today is not that of a loyal supporter of PBO or a good Democrat. With friends like this we don't need anymore enemies.

      Sorry, we will have to continue to disagree here.


    3. And what makes you so damn sure that he is not buttering his bread for the Governorship or the Senate

      What makes me damn sure is that I've been watching this man and following him for years now. Go read what Baratunde said about him after doing the same thing.

      But more important than that is that this reaction feels eerily familiar to me. Its what I felt from the "purity" folks who do the same thing to Obama.

      As I said at the end, I firmly believe that PBO has been asking us for years to avoid this kind of reaction. He demonstrates it every day against much more vicious opponents.

    4. I'm glad I'm not PBO because he is a way better person than I am so I get to spout off on blogs. Don't you give me that "purity" BS. I am a very pragmatic person who works for the re-election of PBO & Dems.

      What I do know is that what Booker said hurts us. I actually don't give a flying roasted fig why he said it or what his local political prospects are. What he said will be used against PBO & Dems. This is the primary issue I have.

      For just one damn time in my life I wish Democrats would have some real loyalty.

      That's all. Now, I will yield to your so much more informed and higher moral ground. Peace


    5. And don't you give me that "higher moral ground" BS.

      I just agreed with every point you made in that comment.

      So there...


    6. LOL! Sorry but when ever I see the word "purity" I go off since I doubt I have been really pure since the age of six. We can both stand on the same ground then.


  2. Smarty,

    I guess it's because the statements he made were so obviously fodder for the republicans. Mayor Booker is a smart man; he had to know what the republicans would do with that statement.

    That is what is so bothersome about it. If it were some lightweight thinker saying that, who would care? But that was Corey Booker.
    At the least, I would have wanted him to voice his displeasure with the campaign-have it out with them in private.

    He may have, and if he did, his coming on TV seems even more cynical.

    Either way, it was bad, bad politics. I don't call people names, but I did register my disappointment via twitter.


    1. I agree totally that the remarks were bad news.

      But if you've followed Booker as closely as I have - you'll know that they are consistent with his approach. So I see nothing cynical about it.

      I think its ok for us to disagree about that kind of thing. And I also agree - he shouldn't have aired that disagreement on TV. That's where I fault him.

  3. I agree with you, Smartypants. One reckless, stupid comment and all the good things you have done are wiped out? You try to clarify what you said and you are still vilified? CB is not the first or the last Dem to say something off message as we march toward election day. The question is how big a deal are we going to make this and play into the game of distraction politics. We need to move and move on quickly...

  4. Hi Smarty Pants,

    In my view, how one personally feels about Mr. Booker is irrelevant; he was not merely speaking as an individual he is an official surrogate of the Obama campaign. Therefore, it is entirely reasonable for folks to expect Mayor Booker to at the very least to stay on message. Instead he chose to throw the campaign under the bus as they say. Worse still, when he was confronted by angry Obama supporters rather than apologize he chose to obfuscate. And one more thing, I don't for minute condone the personl attacks leveled at Corey Booker but such intemperate outbursts should not be conflated with the deluge of legitimate criticism of Mr. Booker.


    1. I'd suggest that my link and praise for Karoli's well-writen article critiquing Booker demonstrates that I totally agree with this:

      such intemperate outbursts should not be conflated with the deluge of legitimate criticism of Mr. Booker.

  5. Mayor Booker...please refer to Mayor Kasim Reed for tips on how to never make it about you - stay on message!

  6. In my mind, if you are going on a show representing a political campaign and totally thow your candidate under the bus, giving gifts like that to your opponent, you should expect to be called out. I don't condone some of the more over the top reactions, but to be honest, I'm not sure why liberals are so quick to defend Booker, who I feel who used his opportunity to further his own political career instead of the reelction efforts of the president.


    1. I'd suggest its rather specious to think that he was doing anything to further his own political career. If you've listened to Booker over the years, what he said was totally in line with how he approaches politics. As I've said many times, its fine to disagree with that approach. But to make more of it than that is an over-reach.

    2. Then we agree to disagree, because if he felt that way, he should have used other avenues to air his disagreements than MTP and undercut the campaign's message.And far as I'm concerned, stuff like this make it more difficult for those of us who volunteer to get folks to vote for the president, if one of his own surrogates can't stay on message, why should those who maybe on the fence for PBO want to vote for him? In my mind, he made the campaign out as being liars over Bain Capital.

      I'm sorry, but to make those of us who are upset with Booker out to be the villians in this is something I find quite curious. I feel at times, we liberals want to be a bit too high-minded instead of realizing that in order to set policy and really change the political approach, you have to be about winning elections, and not sucking as teammates, which what far too often, the Dems seem to do more often than not.


    3. I'll say it yet again.

      I agree Booker shouldn't have said what he did.

      I'm not making anyone out to be "villians." What I'm trying to say is that its OK to disagree with Booker but not assume he's a traitor or sell-out.

    4. And,as I have stated, I don't agree with some of the more over the top comments on Booker, but if things like highlighting the business record of Romney, in light of Romeny's all too obvious mendacity regarding the president's record, is something that Booker's conscience cannot handle, then perhaps he needs to reconsider advocating for the campaign. It's not that I demand '100 percent agreement with the president, but again, if you are gonna represent yourself as a surrogate for the campaign, giving ammo to your opposition ain't helping him or her win elections.

      And I will leave it at that.


  7. 'Eve'nin', All

    Indeed, mayor Booker, in his position, should stay on message. But, he's not Plouffe nor is he Axelrod. Womp on the mayor - yes - no need to name call. But, I would remind all that PBO himself said something along the lines of them clinging to their guns and religion. Shot his own self in the foot - and he weathered that. And, he weathered a number of other things as well.

    He's pointed out that campaigns - including his - are not smooth running machines. There are bumps. Happened in the last one and shall, we see, happen in this one, too. This kerfuffle will NOT give us no President Romney. If he can't handle this... And, I believe he's MORE than demonstrated that he and the organization are VERY tough and this shall be handled.

    To me, mayor Booker tried to thread a needle. Goes to show us all, as we watch PBO do it time and again, jusssst how hard it is to do.

    I seriously doubt, if the mayor wants to continue to be a campaign spokes person, that he'll do it again. And, I believe that we will continue to see Bain front and center because, indeed, Willard made it central to his campaign.

    The Twitter push has had an impact on him and I hope we all continue to settle down.

    1. To me, mayor Booker tried to thread a needle. Goes to show us all, as we watch PBO do it time and again, jusssst how hard it is to do.

      That is an excellent point Blackman.

      I didn't watch MTP this morning so after I saw all the reaction, I went back and watched the whole thing.

      I understand the point I think Booker was trying to make. Sometime PBO has gotten in trouble with the left for saying similar things about not begrudging Wall Street. But Booker really messed it all up in drawing the false equivalency.

      Some folks are suggesting he's so smart and polished that this was a pre-meditated blow. I see it just the opposite. He was wanting to have a nuanced conversation and should have known better than to try to do that on MTP.

    2. It's not the same. This is an official surrogate of the campaign going on TV and saying that the campaign strategy is "crap".

      I hope it'll get him to where he wants to go.

  8. The first thing I thought of when seeing that? If you want a politician to agree with you 100% of the time, become a politician. Hizzoner's wrong about this. So? PATH leads directly from Newark to Wall Street. I at least see where he's coming from.

  9. He compared the Obama campaign attacks on Romney's "job creator" record, to the RW use of the Wright card. This is inexcusable and unacceptable. He undermine the entire campaign, he gave Karl Rove WMD from now to November. He's not dumb and he knew exactly what this will do.
    No matter how hard he may work to help elect PBO, he has done more today to help elect Romney.

    1. Feh. This reminds me of Scarborough during New Orleans Katrina flooding claiming that GeeDubya's approval ratings would go up 5-10 points because Farrakhan flapped his gums. Didn't happen and everyone forgot about it right away.

      It's friggin' May. The last thing I'm worried about is how to react to chuckleheads like Rove. Everyone chill the fuck out, PBO's got this.

    2. My concern is that this need to jettison anyone who doesn't align with us 100% as somehow a traitor or sell-out feels very familiar to me. I've seen and felt it before - and not in places I'm interested in replicating.

      PBO has challenged us to be better than that. I certainly don't always live up to his challenge. But I'm going to give it a try this time.

  10. I agree about " being challenged to be better...." That is why I am giving CB a break. He got the message from supporters. I believe he made a dumb remark, like the "guns and religion" comment. Believe me, though many of my friends use that comment to vote against the president. I fear we will see the "Nausea" again and again. CB is gonna have a hard row to hoe, so he better get to steppin'! There will be other mea culpas by politicians on both side so perhaps it will fade. Time will only tell.

  11. Sorry SmartyPants:

    Baratunde Thurston of Jack and Jill Politics is your authority on the goodness of Cory Booker? Have you visited that Jane Hamsher funded sewer lately? Really.

    Can Cory Booker be wrong without being a traitor? Absolutely.

    But can I ask you this. How can someone who repeatedly self-identified as a Obama Campaign surrogate during the 60 minute MTP show launch into a full throttled defense of Bain Capital, including lauding it's role in creating jobs (thereby calling the President a liar), and calling the campaign's ads nauseating, possibly be viewed favorably by any Obama supporter?

    Surrogate = agent of and substitute for the Obama campaign. That is my understanding of the word. He, not David Gregory, chose the word surrogate.

    What Cory Booker did was FOUL!

  12. I don't know, Smartypants. I'm not saying we should jettison Booker. But I'm not considering him an ally right now.

    We're not having intellectual conversations in a salon -- this is campaign season, and we're up against a well-funded, devious foe. The way I see it, I've been contributing VERY HARD-EARNED bucks to the Obama campaign, which has carefully crafted an effective response to Romney's BS. And it's a very powerful response, so it's money well-spent. Well, Booker didn't just quibble with the message -- he attempted to shoot it down. And in so doing, he's wasting my (our) hard-earned dollars supporting this campaign. I LITERALLY cannot afford the luxury of Booker's need to be intellectually independent right now.

    It's going to take a long time for me to decide whether to trust him again. If he's on the Obama team, his judgment is unbelievably lousy for screwing up that hugely and expensively. And I'm having a hard time understanding how a complete and absolute refutation of the campaign's messaging was a "mistake."

  13. I've always considered Cory Booker one of the most astute politicians ever. Having said that, and in light of the positive tweeter pushed out by McCain, this does look like it's going to be a HUGE talking point for the GOP for awhile and I'm sure it will come up in the debates when Romney is looking for confirmation of his business skills. A totally unforced error on Booker's part and I doubt we see him for awhile.


  14. Honestly I saw this coming several months ago when Booker said on an interview that gov. Christie is doing a good job.

    Oh really, thousands of police, teachers and fireman lost their jobs. About 3 billion dollars if correct was taken out of our pension funds and no money have been put back since..

    Now this, Booker made these comments about Obama campaign ....Im very disappointed of Booker comments because I supported him during his first attempt as mayor of Newark and we lost.

    And I supported him on his victory win as this is what the hard working democrats get in return...

  15. Correction

    60 billions