Cory Booker is tired of cynics

And bloggers. People who say stuff about him, like Salon’s Alex Pareene:

Booker, a husky vegetarian who would be the only black Democrat in the Senate, is draining Splenda-sweetened coffee at a Greek diner in Union, just outside of Newark. He talks a lot about cynicism, calling it, “the most cognitively debilitating state of being” and declaring that “my whole life has been about confronting cynicism.” The point is that in a cynical world and a paralyzed Washington, Cory Booker is going to be different. He is going to change things.

Cory Booker’s whole life has been about confronting cynics. The cynics who said the son of an IBM executive would never amount to anything. The ones who said a guy with degrees from Stanford, Oxford, and Yale Law couldn’t ever make it in politics. The ones who said that one very gifted and incredibly ambitious politician with a lot of wealthy friends wouldn’t be able to overcome the fundamental structural and economic issues that caused Newark’s decline through sheer force of personality. He proved them all wrong, except those last ones. They were sort of right.

The “cynics” in this case are people who believe Booker is part of an American elite class devoted to enriching itself at the expense of everyone else, and who point out that most members of this privileged class have deluded themselves into believing that they deserve or earned their incredible wealth with brilliance or hard work, when in fact a guy with the right background and connections can just start a fake internet company with Jeff Zucker’s kid and get a bunch of other guys with the right background and connections to throw disgusting amounts of money at him.

The question of “why liberals hate Cory Booker” is not very useful and certainly not hard to answer: Based on his personal and professional associations, and some of his stated policy positions, like his dedication to corporate education reform, liberals think he will be an advocate for the interests of the very wealthy and that he will not support economic policies, like strong financial reform, designed to change the conditions that perpetuate economic inequity. He silence or obfuscation on most economic policy issues make it seem like he is purposefully not expressing his true beliefs in order to maintain his reputation for progressiveness. Here’s an example: “He is less interested in talking about his positions on overhauling Wall Street or tax policy, except to say, ‘I fall in a very pragmatic way.’”

A better question is, why do super-rich guys love Cory Booker? There’s just something about Booker that makes rich people want to give him lots and lots of money. And because Booker has no stated set of beliefs beyond vague do-gooderism, rich people with fairly disparate policy preferences all feel comfortable giving him money. (Here’s an examplefrom this morning: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon will be co-hosting a fundraiser for Cory Booker, despite the fact that Damon is a noted defender of public schools and Booker is a proud advocate of asking billionaires to fund charter schools. The fundraiser will be held at the Hollywood home of billionaire investor Ron Burkle. You can read more about Burkle inthis 2006 profile written by Jason Horowitz, author of the Washington Post profile of Booker currently under discussion. Burkle is best-known for formerly being Bill Clinton’s best friend and maybe owing him money.)

The simple answer is that Booker is “one of them.” He’s got the cultural and educational background of a finance guy or a successful attorney. But he also attracts the do-gooder liberal types, like Damon and Oprah. And I think it’s because Booker is essentially a motivational speaker disguised as a politician. He speaks like a high-priced management consultant, or a guy leading an expensive corporate retreat. Horowitz refers to him as a living TED Talk, and that about sums it up: He’s a vague speech about “innovation” in a suit. He will be very successful in politics.

3 thoughts on “Cory Booker is tired of cynics

  1. Real soon we’re going to have a Presidential election featuring Ted Cruz vs. Cory Booker.

    I won’t vote for either of them.

  2. Brilliant analysis, Susie.
    Booker was the commencement speaker at my Daughter’s graduation form CUNY/Hunter College several years ago. He totally won me over, talking inspirationally to all those public-university kids, many of whom were the first college attendees in their family, until I eventually began seeing what his tangible positions and actions were. He’s another African American trojan horse shilling for the 1%, just like Obama, only with much more charisma.

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