‘Cory Booker is even worse than his critics say’

Noam Schieber at the New Republic:

Cory Booker has just won New Jersey’s Democratic Senate primary in a rout, making him an easy favorite to claim the seat this fall. But even stronger than the pundit consensus that Booker will soon be in Washington is the belief that the camera-savvy Twitter celebrity will be a rabble-rouser once he gets there. “He would be a disruptor,” the pros at NBC’s First Read have predicted. “Someone who wants to shake things up.” A vehicle for bringing “street-level experience to a Senate that often seems disembodied from the whole planet,” is how The New York Times endorsement put it. No less an expert than Booker himself has suggested that agitprop will be his preferred mode of discourse, approvingly citing Ted Cruz and Rand Paul as his senatorial role models.

You might be inclined to conclude from this that Booker intends to be the Senate’s liberal conscience—someone who can channel the progressive id from a perch inside Washington, in the same way that Cruz and Paul function as voices of the Tea Party from deep within the capital. Booker is, after all, an inner-city Democrat from a solidly blue state, whose predecessor was a reliably liberal vote. Who better than him to swing for the fences? But, if you happened to conclude this, you’d be way off the mark. What Booker has in mind when he alludes to being an agitator is agitating for the cause of himself.

Cory Booker isn’t the first politician to run for office because he wants recognition and power without any idea of what he wanted it for. In his case, it seems to be that he wants everyone to love him.