Despite occasional early criticism from way back in the left-field bleachers [and more recent jeers from behind the dugout], Cory Booker had almost universally been accepted as a Democratic rock-star and future leader of the party. In addition, he's cultivated a folk-legend, man-among-the-people persona through an underdog documentary and Twitter-reported heroics. I think the jig is up.
The toothpaste is out of the tube. You can't put it back in, Mayor Booker. He seems to know this because he didn't even really try. His performance on TRMS was a failure, mainly because he plainly appeared to be performing, and in an overly verbose, jumpy way. From the very start, I just didn't believe him. Talking about his staff having to "hold him back" from fighting the GOP messaging rang hollow and disingenuous just a day after he whole-heartedly embraced it on MTP.
The real problem was Booker's repeated claim that Republicans were "manipulating" and "taking out of context" his remarks about Bain and private equity. No rambling 12-minute interview can cover up what he really said, though:
To me it's just we're getting to a ridiculous point in America, especially that I know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital's record they've done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And this to me, I'm very uncomfortable with.The kicker was Booker's plea to "get all this money out of politics." Talk about striking out! How can you deplore the financial stranglehold on our politics while sabotaging the president for Wall Street cash? You can't. It sounded phony and ridiculous.
...Stop attacking private equity!
Later, Steve Kornacki and Krystal Ball (silly name, smart woman) really threw the guy an anvil on The Last Word. Each made an important point.
Ball raised something that crossed my mind: if Booker is willing to promote himself at the expense of President Obama's re-election, how should we perceive his past and future efforts (stunts?) to draw attention to himself? It's a fine line to walk between political ambition and self-interest. Booker clearly veered off course and damaged his brand, perhaps permanently.
Beyond the perception battle, Kornacki hit the nail on the head substantively—that the 2008 crash changed the dynamic within the Democratic Party when it comes to Wall Street and the investor class. You can't be a rising Democratic star while tooting the horn of the speculative, out-of-touch moneyed elite. After all the pain doled out from the Great Recession, Democrats don't want to hear their politicians deny wholesale problems related to corporate excess and income inequality. How on earth can Bain Capital make $100 million on a business deal when all the workers lost their jobs? President Obama wants voters to ask that question. Cory Booker is nauseated at the thought.
The Democratic Party has to be about more than just social liberalism. And economic opportunity shouldn't include the financial elite's right to steal from workers and the middle class. High Broderism won't get it done. Cory Booker is not the future of the party anymore.