Skip to comments.See Cory Run
Posted on 12/06/2018 10:13:26 AM PST by billorites
This is before and this is after. Before and after, Cory Booker is saying on Snapchat. Hes just met a young fan with an Afro and is drawing the contrast to his own shiny bald head. Its a routine he will repeat again later in the day and as he crisscrosses the country before the midterms. The New Jersey senator cant say no to a selfie. If you are standing around looking idle, hell probably ask you to take one and upload the photo to his social media accounts for his millions of followers.
Social media are Bookers bread and butter. They are good advertising, and they are free. But Booker senses that hes not so much giving something as getting it. Without fail, he asks the first name of everyone he meets and is almost certain to repeat it back at least once. Booker is fond of tweeting out Dale Carnegie quotes and makes good on one of the guru of self-improvements famous rules: Remember that a persons name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Booker says that his favorite books are by Kurt Vonnegut and James Baldwin, but its Carnegie that seems really to have stuck. He follows up most of these encounters with a Booker bear hug. Im a hugger, he tells me, as if I hadnt already seen ample evidence of this fact.
Booker is spending a chilly, late-October day shuttling around New Hampshire stumping for Granite State Democrats. He visits the University of New Hampshire in Durham and a community center in Portsmouth with Chris Pappas and has a town hall at Dartmouth with Annie Kuster. (Both candidates will win easily on November 6.) There are photo-ops aplenty. Instagram posts are generated, tagged, and uploaded. The trip is a social-media success. Bookers presence is that much better known in New Hampshire.
In the run-up to Election Day, Booker visited 24 states on 39 trips. He went three times to Ohio for Sherrod Brown and three times to Florida for Bill Nelson. He flew to North Dakota to help Heidi Heitkamp and to Nevada to stump for Jacky Rosen (three times). Many of the states he hit are key to the 2020 presidential race, in which Booker says he is only considering throwing his hat. But hes out in these states seeing where his message sticks and where it needs work. His crowds are usually young and diversethrongs of energetic progressivismand they swarm him for photos. He loves every minute of it, documenting his travels stop by stop on Instagram. If Booker doesnt snap a selfie, was he really there?
The creative use of technology is at the core of Bookers political strategy. After campaign events with Democratic activists in Iowa in October, his staff scanned social media for photos with the boss and printed them out. Booker then signed the images, adding personalized notes, and they were mailed out to the folks who posted the pictures. Its something Donald Trump is known to do, to mark his approval of someone or something. But its hard to imagine any other Democratic presidential hopefulJulián Castro, for instance, or Elizabeth Warrenhaving the self-confidence to do it.
And Booker is nothing if not confident. Hes almost vain in the certainty that he can win over an audience, and so certain that he often focuses on telling stories of his falling short. In Hanover, he describes an encounter with a homeless man in Newark. He and his driver, Kevin, are pulling out of a McDonalds. Bookers a vegan, but cant resist the fries. Im thinking about putting a bill in to schedule McDonalds French fries because theyre so addictive, he says. They see a homeless man rooting through the garbage, and, as Booker tells it,
I go Hey man, you okay? And he tries to brush me off. And I go, Sir, hey man, you alright, you need anything? And he turns around and looks at me and he says, Im hungry. Now I dont know what faith anybody is here. For me and my faith, I think it says something in the Bible about if you have two McDonalds French fries and your neighbor has no McDonalds French fries. I think it was in the Sermon on the McMount. And so, I know what I have to do. So I open up these French fries and that aroma hits me and I suddenly lose a little bit of my will to give it up and my hands shaking and I pull the fries out and I hand him the fries and he pries them out of my hands. I feel somewhat good; he feels happy. He looks good and then were about to drive off again, but he looks at me and goes, Hey man, do you have any socks. Now, for anybody here thats worked with the homeless, its probably one of the hottest items. But I dont carry extra socks in my car so I look at the guy and I say, Im sorry, man, I dont have any socks, and I turn my head thinking that Kevins going to drive off. But he doesnt. He puts the car in park, reaches between the steering wheel, kicks off his shoes, takes off the socks hes wearing, and hands them out the window. Now Im the senator who talks about love and all this stuff. Im three blocks from my house where I have pairs of socks that I have never even worn yet. But in that moment I didnt have the moral imagination to see how I could live my values and love my neighbor. Thats the rub, guys, thats where we are in America. That little bit extra. That little bit more.
Bookers freewheeling approach to campaigning is through stories, and its not so much about electoral politics or specific policies as it is about weaving the events of his life into a moral moment in America.
Another story Booker likes to tell is that of his parents, newly promoted executives at IBM in the late 1960s, trying to buy a house in New Jerseys upscale Harrington Park. They were repeatedly turned away by real-estate agents who tried to make it impossible for black families to purchase property in predominantly white neighborhoods. Agents would tell families like the Bookers that the houses they were interested in had already sold. When white couples inquired, the same houses would be for sale. Undeterred, his parents worked with activists and the Fair Housing Council to fight this system of discrimination. They sent a white couple in their stead to the house they wanted to make sure it was still for sale. It was. The white couple then pressed ahead with purchase, but at closing time, Bookers father showed up with a lawyer to buy the place. After an altercation that included being attacked by a Doberman Pinscher, the Bookers got their house in Harrington Park.
Bookers mother, Carolyn, tells me that they took up this fight to make it more difficult for someone to discriminate against other people. It was, she says, the right thing to do. Booker, though, likes to riff on his late fathers joke that with the family (which included his older brother Cary) moving into Harrington Park they became the four raisins in a tub of sweet vanilla ice cream. The countrys racial history is an ever-present issue for Booker, one of only three African American senators, but he wants to see his complicated heritage as a source of communion rather than anger. Some of his ancestors were slaves but several were slave ownersand one was a Confederate soldier. A DNA test revealed that hes 47 percent African, 45 percent European, and 7 percent Native American (which is about 70 times more Native American than Elizabeth Warren).
What Booker likes best is to present himself as just like whomever he is talking to. At Dartmouth, hes a high achiever, just like his Ivy League-audience: By the time Im 18 years old, Im, like, president of my class, high school All-American football player. Thats how I got into Stanford: 4.0, 1,6004.0 yards a carry, 1,600 receiving yards. At Stanford, he played football and got degrees in political science and sociology. He won a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford. There, the Baptist Booker became active in Jewish lifeserving as co-president of the LChaim Society and studying Torah. When he enrolled at Yale law school, he founded a Jewish group. Jeffrey Goldberg once wrote that theres a high degree of certainty that Booker knows more Torah than anyone else in the Senate. Booker says that Judaic thought has contributed deeply to his worldview. It helps him communicate in terms of goodness, kindness, decency to another and justice.
Yiddishisms and Jewish liturgy dot his speeches. At Dartmouth, he mistakes the day of the week. Its Sunday, but he thinks its Saturday. After being corrected, he announces, Okay, so it is not Shabbat, but Id like to give a little dvar Torah anyway, he says referring to the Jewish equivalent of a homily. He launches into a discourse on Abrahams openness as represented by inviting strangers to his tent. It is one of Bookers go-to stories. He talks about Abrahams circumcision (Dont think about that for too long, he tells the Dartmouth crowd) and recites a Hebrew verse from the Book of Isaiah, which he translates: May my house be a house of prayer for many nations. It is a compelling and practiced patterand surely a strong asset in engaging one of the countrys most vocal and generous group of supportersbut it seems to confuse his audience of college progressives. Is Cory Booker Jewish? I overhear one undergrad asking another.
He finds his feet with them with stories of his work in Newark. In his last year at Yale law school, Booker took up residence in the struggling city about 30 minutes south of where he grew up. Initially he lived across the street from a housing project called Brick Towers but eventually moved into the project itself. There, he befriended Jimmy Wright, a police officer. Wright says that Booker was always asking questions, always wanting to know what was going on in Newark. He was sincere. Wright pegs this around 1997, about the time Booker took a fellowship with the white-shoe Manhattan law firm Skadden, Arps to do pro bono work in Newark.
In 1998, he mounted a successful campaign for the Newark city council. As a councilman, Booker burnished his pragmatist credentials by working with the right-of-center Manhattan Institute on a school-choice program for Newarks failing schools. Being outcome-focused started to change my view in favor of options like charter schools, contract schools and, yes, vouchers, Booker said at the time. And reflecting on his work with the Manhattan Institute today, he claims he always puts helping people above politics: Im just a fierce pragmatist. In 2014, he told the New Yorker that he became a pariah in Democratic circles for taking on the party orthodoxy on education but gained all these Republican donors and donors from outside Newark, many of them motivated because we have an African-American urban Democrat telling the truth about education.
Newark was Bookers launching pad, and its a place he continuously alludes to on the campaign trail. I got my B.A. from Stanford, he likes to say, but my Ph.D. from the streets of Newark. In 2002, he ran for mayor against the corrupt machine of four-term incumbent Sharpe James. The campaign is memorialized in the documentary Street Fight, which was nominated for an Academy Award. At Dartmouth, Booker laments its loss to March of the Penguins. Penguins arent cute, he jokes, theyre flightless rodents, people! I am a vegan, with the exception of penguin meat. The audience laughs.
Bookers mayoral bid brought him into circles important for his political future. He raised more than $2 million, and wealthy Manhattanites vied to have fundraisers for him in high-floor offices and full-floor apartments. Andrew Tisch, the co-chair of Loews, attended one at the Skadden, Arps offices in the Condé Nast building. He saw in Booker a guy who can write his own ticket for whatever career he chooses. He has chosen politics. He has chosen Newark. Hes genuine, hes plain-spoken, hes action-oriented. Hes a real activist politician. Bill Ackman, the founder of the Pershing Square hedge fund, was another advocate. He wrote Booker a check after chatting with him for an hour and later held a fundraiser for the candidate at his Central Park West apartment.
Sharpe James fought back with a smear campaign. He called Booker a carpetbagger and the faggot white boy, and attacked his campaign as, variously, a Republican plot, a Jewish plot, or a KKK plot to take over Newark. Booker lost in 2002, but with a stronger infrastructure, he won four years later. He was a hands-on mayor. He shoveled snow for constituents, saved a woman from a burning housesustaining second-degree burns in the effortand went on a food-stamp diet to bring attention to poverty in his city. Jimmy Wright, Bookers policeman friend, became his inspector general and says the new mayor really struggled to balance the citys budget and had to lay off police and city officials. But he points out Bookers success in bringing business to the city. I know Trump says something to the effect that Cory ran Newark into the ground, I really dont know what hes looking at or what information hes referring to. Think about it, Cory came to Newark, and major businesses came to Newark.
And Bookers two terms did bring major investment into Newark. Amazon-owned Audible moved to the city, as did Panasonic, and Mark Zuckerberg gave $100 million to the citys schools. Zuckerberg and Booker first met in 2010 at the famous Allen & Company retreat in Sun Valley. With Zuck in his corner, other tech and business industry dollars soon followed; Laurene Powell-Jobs and the Andreessens co-hosted a fundraiser in 2013 when Booker ran for the Senate. Booker, recall, termed Obamas 2012 attacks on Mitt Romney and Bain Capital nauseating.
Booker won the 2013 special election to fill Frank Lautenbergs Senate seatand won a full term the next year. In his time on Capitol Hill, he says he has focused on environmental justice and criminal justice reform. But any name he has made for himself has been in opposing President Trumps judicial nominations. His performance on the Judiciary Committee during Brett Kavanaughs confirmation hearings drew headlines and boosted his progressive cred. But his acts of resistance also had their comic moments. He said he risked expulsion from the Senate for releasing classified documents that he dramatically said showed Kavanaugh as an advocate of racial profiling. He called it his I am Spartacus moment. But the documents had already been declassified, and hed been told so by an attorney from the Bush library. For anyone not looking simply to defeat Kavanaugh by any means, Booker was just grandstanding, and the Spartacus moniker seems likely to stick.
Booker replays his opposition to Kavanaugh for the Dartmouth audience. He calls the nomination a moment in our history that just made me so angry. I sat in those Kavanaugh hearings, and I watched this brave, courageous woman come forward and tell her truth. And another one, named Ramirez. And the worlds greatest deliberative body, the worlds greatest deliberative body says, were not even going to go and examine the evidence. . . . We couldnt even listen, Booker laments, getting emotional. I left the Senate floor. I took my vote. I didnt even stick around for the final vote. I got on the plane, and I flew to Iowa.
The national spectacle of opposing Kavanaugh also resurrected an incident from Bookers own past. In 1992, while at Stanford, Booker authored a newspaper column called So much for stealing second, which recounted a New Years kiss when he was 15. He admitted in the piece that he slowly reached for her breast and after having my hand pushed away once, I reached my mark. The groping ended soon, he wrote, but next week in school she told me that she was drunk that night and didnt really know what she was doing. Bookers actions, his age, and the situation were all reminiscent of the charges brought against Brett Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford. During the question-and-answer period at Dartmouth, one of the students thanks Booker for having been wonderful in the Kavanaugh hearings. Youve really placed yourself at the forefront of advocacy for survivors of sexual assault, he says, but then asks about the old column. Booker ably wriggles out with a long-winded answer. Im this kid that grew up in a toxic . . . a culture of toxic masculinity, he says:
I wrote an article trying to be very provocative as a campus leader to call . . . really a column speaking to men and knowing that as a ball player at Stanford that perhaps I could be a voice that people would listen to. Now what is outrageous to me is that that column could have been written today by someone on this campus. Its not dated. Its just not dated.
He ends by praising the questioner, first of all it sounds like youre a pretty woke dude so God bless you for that, and condemning sexual violence. The response is hearty applause and flashing iPhones. Annie Kuster then offers her own thanks for his role in the Kavanaugh hearings. Opposition to the conservative justice supersedes all personal liability.
Yet Booker knows how fleeting such praise can be. In January 2017, his opposition to Trumps nomination of Jeff Sessions to the post of attorney generalBooker actually testified against Sessions, something that had never before happened in a Senate hearinghad the praise for his resistance pouring in. But before the week was out he was being hammered by the very same progressives for opposing a Bernie Sanders bill aimed at lowering prescription drug prices. Vox headlined a piece: How Cory Booker went from progressive hero to traitor in under 2 days. Orthodoxy is everything in the new Democratic party.
Cory Booker is running for president in New Hampshire, Kuster began her introduction of Booker at Dartmouth. He recoiled playfully, and everyone laughed. But everyone also understood that this was exactly why he was here. It was why the students were here, too. No one came for Kuster. Booker seemed to have no clue who she was until he was introduced to her by his staff. But so many students showed up to the lecture hall to see a future presidential candidate that local Democratic organizers had to turn some away.
Before visiting Dartmouth for the town hall-esque campaign event, he joined Senator Jeanne Shaheen at the University of New Hampshire for a rally. Dartmouth got time for questions; the University of New Hampshire got pizza. But both got dozens and dozens of selfies, Snapchats, and sweaty Booker bear hugs.
And at both events Booker talks about his difficulty with some of the language in our Founding documents: Native Americans referred to as savages in our Declaration of Independence, he says, recycling a refrain from his 2016 Democratic National Convention speech. He quotes (without attribution) founder of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevensons line We have a criminal justice system that treats you better if youre rich and guilty than poor and innocent (also recycled from Bookers 2016 Democratic National Convention, though then with attribution). This line is applauded at University of New Hampshire but gets loud cheers at Dartmouth.
He comes off well, as a moderate whos trying to navigate the politically turbulent waters of the Democratic party. During the question-and-answer time, the Dartmouth students put Booker through the progressive wringer. Katie from New York asks him how he can regulate Facebook when hes so friendly with Zuckerberg. José from New Jersey asks about teacher compensation and Kos from Maine presses him about fake news. This is a politically engaged generation hungry not just for authenticity but for purity. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to them and for them. And so does Cory Booker. But I wonder what this cheering crowd would think about the fundraiser that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump threw for Booker at their apartment on Park Avenue in 2013. Would they be impressed or pissed off by the whos who of Wall Streeters that he thanks in the back of United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good. Marv McMoore, 25, a former president of College Democrats of America, acknowledges that Booker has been a progressive champion in the Senate but says there are some tough questions hell have to answer, should he decide to run. Many progressives have real questions about his record on prescription drug prices and his reflexive support for Wall Street.
And there are other things hell have to answer for, too. Theres the 1992 Stanford Daily column about how I hated gays. While I was highly adroit at maintaining an air of acceptance, Booker wrote, I couldnt betray my feelings. I was disgusted by gays. The thought of two men kissing each other was about as appealing as a frontal lobotomy. He writes that conversations with Daniel Bao at Stanfords peer-to-peer counseling group, The Bridge, helped to move me past tolerance. And to show just how far hes come, during Mike Pompeos hearings for confirmation as Secretary of State, Booker grilled him: Do you believe that gay sex is a perversion: yes or no? Yes or no, sir? Do you believe that gay sex is a perversion, because thats what you said here in one of your speeches. Yes or no: Do you believe gay sex is a perversion?
Booker, an unwed man nearing 50, is himself sometimes accused of being homosexual. His mother told Oprah that her son is just waiting to find a woman like her. But Booker prefers to meet the charge head on with rejoinders like, So what does it matter if I am? Hes been in and out of his fair share of heterosexual relationships, including some with prominent women like the poet Cleo Wade, and the charge hardly sticks. Steve Lonegan, the longshot Republican challenger for the Lautenberg seat in 2013, nonetheless tried to make Bookers marital status a campaign issue. He accused Booker of acting ambiguous to attract gay voters and of liking to go out at 3 oclock in the morning for a manicure and a pedicure. Booker didnt fire back at Lonegan, and he keeps his cool at such trolling today. Were he not to, he would undercut the amiable presentation that he see as his presidential calling card.
Booker claims to see a path forward in small acts of kindness, decency, and love. When he hears the moral vandalism coming from the highest offices in the land he tells the crowd at Dartmouth, its not time to curse another human being or descend into hateful rhetoric. Its time to decide that Im going to be light in this darkness, Im going to be love, Im going to be a part of a revival of civic grace in America. And he tells me, There are a lot of incredible Americans who supported Donald Trump. . . . I say time and time again weve got to stop vilifying each other because were in different parties.
It would be hard to get farther from Hillary Clintons basket of deplorables comment. But it is also hardly the message the Democratic party is buying. These days its the party of Eric Holders when they go low, we kick them and Michael Avenattis mudslinging on cable news. It is a party whose brightest star, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, recently joined a sit-in out front of Nancy Pelosis office. Booker may preach love and understanding, but the party faithful want a fully credible progressive, one whos willing to weather the rough and tumble of Trumpian politics and fight fire with fire. Bookers message seems too much, too soon. When we re-take power, Hillary Clinton neatly summed it up in October, then civility can start again.
See the Weekly Standard ... oops, not for much longer.
I can’t wait for the Weekly Standard to go out of business. This puff piece for a democrat who tried to personally destroy one of our judicial nominees is a perfect case in point.
Every time Fartacus here gets the old media stroke remember to thank fata$$ Chris Christie, who refused to appoint a republican to the seat after Lautenberg died.
No wonder that magazine is going under. That article was numbingly vapid.
....another POS who has imaginary friends and likes bathrooms...
..should say, hanging out in bathrooms
Someone needs to follow Corey Booker's twitter and edit every selfie he posts to say "I am Spartacus."
what a waste of bandwidth.
Couldn’t pay me to read all that. Just read headline.. saw Cory... saved time...
Who read all that?
Booker’s speechmaking is a hilarious - but appalling - mixture of Obama and Sharpton with some desperate, self-conscious attempts at generating catchphrases he hopes will be amplified by the media.
Try doing it with a small android phone...arrgh
Booker is bonkers for Coco Puffs.
I am Spartacus.
Sorry, but he missed the boat. We’ve already had a gay black male socialist with no identifiable skill set beyond getting elected in a heavily black district.
Obama got the ticket for that ride.
For the same reason Mark Cuban has no chance. There has already been a celebrity billionaire.
Everything you never wanted to know about Cory Booker and never needed to know.
The funny thing about Mark Cuban is that he actually thinks he has a chance.
Maybe too much “Sharknado” got into his head. LOL
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