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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