Newark Mayor Cory Booker Recants

Don’t feel bad, Mayor. Galileo understands.

When, I wonder, will the political parties realize that having spokespersons with proven credibility and integrity, who will speak the truth and not embrace cynical, misleading talking points, can only help the parties’ causes? Based on the sad Corey Booker episode, I’m guessing the answer is “Never.”

The Obama campaign, taking its cue from New Gingrich (which itself is disturbing), put out what can only be called an anti-capitalism ad, condemning Mitt Romney’s leadership of  Bain Capital, a private investment firm that acquires companies, streamlines and repairs them to make them profitable, or liquidates them if they are not. The ad relies on breath-taking ignorance of how investment and business creation works, but fits nicely into the Occupy Wall Street mythology. For a President trying, theoretically, to get the economy humming again, it was a stunning example of campaign deceit.

Cory Booker is Newark’s Democratic mayor, a devoted Obama supporter, and like his state’s Republican Governor Chris Cristie, remarkably willing to tell the truth, for someone in his field. On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Booker pronounced the Bain ad “nauseating”:

“If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And this [the ad], to me, I’m very uncomfortable with….I have to just say, from a very personal level, I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity. I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital.”

The Mayor went on to indict cheap-shot negative campaigning on both sides, saying,

“This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides. It’s nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright.”

Of course, the Obama team had actually released the anti-Bain ad. The Romney campaign had never released or, as far as anyone knows, considered a Wright ad, which was only proposed for an unaffiliated PAC, and apparently rejected.

Good for Booker. He was honest, he properly chastised his own side for unethical conduct, and should have increased the value of his endorsement of the President’s re-election. I don’t know how you feel about it, but I regard the endorsements by honest public figures with integrity as more persuasive than those coming from lying weasels.

Ah, but White House sent the  hooded men with the truncheons and car batteries to get Corey Booker, and rather than preserve his integrity, he went on that haven of progressive haze, MSNBC to recant, apologize, retract and obfuscate, telling Rachel Maddow, pathetically…

“…Anybody who watched the entire ‘Meet the Press,’ not only was I defending Obama’s positions on numerous issues, but I also talked about super PAC money and the negative campaigning and my outrage and really my frustration was about the cynical negative campaigning, the manipulating of the truth and so here they are plucking sound bites out of that interview, to manipulate them in a cynical manner to use them for their own purposes…”

His clear statement to “Meet the Press” was no “sound bite” and it wasn’t taken out of context. Booker said, straight up and unequivocally, that he was uncomfortable with the ad’s attack on private equity. He wasn’t alone among Democrats to do so, either. Former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford seconded Booker’s sentiments on MSNBC, as did Steve Rattner, a  former Obama administration White House “czar.”  Then Booker turned contrite and swore that nobody in the Obama camp had pressured him:

“But the reality is that the Barack Obama team in the White House and their political team have been good to me for many, many years. I’ve worked with them early in the primaries in the last election. They have never pressure me to do anything. They’ve done but encourage me. And in this case in particular, I certainly did talk with campaign officials, but they didn’t force me to do anything. They had good conversations with me.” 

Does anyone, anyone, believe that after the “Meet the Press” broadcast, a sternly-worded message from the Obama campaign did not go out to Booker telling him to walk his statement back, and fast?  Has there ever been a more striking example of “protesting too much”?  Can one think of a better way of discrediting a truth-teller than forcing him to tell a transparent lie on national television?

Next, Booker said,

“And after having conversations with them, especially after hearing the President’s remarks on this issue where he was not condemning all of private equity, he was not condemning any particular firms, he was focusing in on a guy who’s bragging about his job creation record — to me, I think that’s fair game. All of those things made me say, you know what? I need to go on and clarify because obviously I did things in the Meet the Press interview, as I told you, that did not land the points that I was trying to make and in some ways, you know, frustratingly, I think I conflated the attacks that the Republicans were making with Jeremiah Wright with some of the attacks on the left, and those can’t even be equated.”

Isn’t this sad?

“Once they locked me in the room and told me I was a traitor, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t been nauseated after all!”  He is right about one thing, though—the attacks on Bain Capital and the attacks involving Jeremiah Wright can’t be equated, because there have been no attacks involving Jeremiah Wright. Finally, Booker had his Winston Smith moment:

“So, at this point, I’m grateful for the president, who came out today and said very kind words to me.”

“He loved Big Brother!”



Graphic: University of Arizona

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14 thoughts on “Newark Mayor Cory Booker Recants

  1. Sounds to me like he came within a hair’s width of being arrested for saying bad things about the President… 😉


  2. Or maybe Booker originally attacked a strawman argument, and is apologizing for that. Could that be it? I didn’t see an attack on private equity originally and I don’t see it now. Booker had to apologize because his premises were wrong, not his conclusions based on those premises.

    • Maybe if he reworded it and presented it as a fictional dialogue between a man named Simplicito, who is attacking Bain capital and…
      Maybe an Animal Farm-style children’s book…

      • Why then, did Ed Rendell, Booker, and many other Democrats read the ad that way, then? Explain to me what “in context” means.

        The argument that businesses have an obligation to employ workers they don’t need in order to be profitable and to do their services and produce their products is bizarre and indefensible. To attract private investment, businesses have to show they won’t waste money. A lot of people in Washington have to lose their jobs for the government to make good use of taxpayer money too. Booker knew what he was saying. Like so much campaign advertising, the Bain ad plays on emotion and ignorance. It is indeed “nauseating.”

        • “In context” means listen to the whole speech. Where did Obama say you needed to employ workers you don’t need? The federal government has actually grown very modestly during the Obama administration. He understands the things businesses need to take into consideration. He said that clearly. But the government cannot be run like a business. The President has many other considerations besides the bottom line, and I think he laid those out pretty clearly also. Rendell? Give me a break. If Cory Booker finds the ads nauseating, he should stick to his guns and defend his position. He’s a pretty stand up guy, so maybe he really did hear them “out of context.”

          • I realize that Booker was talking about the ad, and I am putting the ad in the context of Obama’s comments on the Bain issue. What I am trying to say is that I believe Booker’s walk back is based on him listening to those comments.

            • Except that an ad can only be fairly read as what the ad itself indicates, since that’s the context that the audience sees. Saying that the ad doesn’t attack what it appears to attack when taken in the context of a subsequent speech or explanation isn’t a valid defense, is it? Deceptive, deceitful and misleading information can often be made less so with additional context, but if that context wasn’t part of the original communication, then it’s deceptive.

              I would say the same thing about a GOP ad that used Solyndra to suggest that government investment in new technologies and private sector R&D was a mistake.

              • Point taken. Ninety-nine per cent of voters won’t hear the speech, but they will see the ad. But I think Booker got it wrong when he sees the ad as attacking private equity. It is attacking the point of view that would apply private equity principles to governing. I think that is going to be at the heart of this election. Maybe that is what Booker’s “epiphany” is about. I hope you have your copy/paste ready, because you can bet Solyndra is going to come up in an ad eventually (and I’m not defending Obama’s ad on that basis–I know you well enough not to try that).

                • If Solyndra comes up in the context of a conflict of interest and crony capitalism, that’s legit. If it comes up to show that such investments is not a proper government function, I’ll be all over it. But it WILL be an ad of some sort, you’re right.

          • He is a stand-up guy, but when a President says “recant,” usually even stand-up guys will do as they are told. The President, when he addressed the Chamber of Commerce, told the execs to start hiring more workers. That’s nuts. They will hire workers when it makes sense to do so, not to help the unemployment figures. Obama’s been blaming unemployment on things like computers and ATM’s…this does not bespeak of a sophisticated understanding of how the job market should work.

            • You may be right about Booker, or he may have seen the light; probably a combination of both. He is ambitious, but he’s also a stand up guy.

              What I’ve been hearing is that employees are more productive (meaning longer hours) and employers are not hiring new workers. They would rather increase the hours of the employees they already have. Workers might appreciate the overtime, but it’s time to start hiring some of our long term unemployed.

              • There are certainly examples of that. CVS, for example, is absurdly understaffed these days. The lines are long, and it is costing them business…at least MY business, as I’m sick of standing in a line of 15 with only one checkout clerk with stations for 5.

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