I was out participating in the democratic process and then went out for some fun, so I arrived very late to TOD last night. This afforded me a chance to read through the comment sections rapidly and with detachment, rather than living the outrage moment to moment. Then I got to sleep on it. Refreshed, I discovered a new perspective on the comment made by Mayor Booker yesterday.
First I was struck by the use of the word “nauseating” to refer to the advertising taking swipes at Mitt’s time at Bain Capital. Put in context with the glee with which the Right exploited his comment as an attack on the President, I came to realize that this is a very visceral reaction. What that tells me is that this advertising strategy is highly effective. On some level Cory might realize that, but what some are calling his false equivalence to the Rev. Wright controversy, does have a parallel.
Both the time at Bain Capital for Mitt and the time as a parishioner of Rev. Wright for the President represent a part of their respective pasts that needed to be addressed as a part of the vetting process conducted by the media for the benefit of the American electorate. Cory might not agree that part of the process needs to happen, and long for a more substantive current issues-related debate to be reflected in advertising and media scrutiny. The fact remains it IS part of the process of vetting a President. The GOP didn’t get to use their advertising featuring Rev. Wright, and the President stepped up to confront the issue with his brilliant speech on race relations in this country. The roles are reversed now: the Democrats are using advertising highlighting Mitt’s time at Bain, and Mitt isn’t stepping up to address his behavior or belief system to the American public.
Let us not lose sight of the fact that the advertising is highly effective in a visceral way. And that effectiveness is part of why the response on the blogs and twitter were so intense yesterday. People don’t want to lose those ads, or at least what they represent, as a tool to use against Romney. Not even so much about Romney, but the whole idea of exposing vulture capitalism for what it is. To that I say it is only one tool in a very large box of tools that the Obama campaign possesses. It just happens to be the one they’re wielding right now. Also bear in mind that this is the part of the campaign cycle where the Obama campaign is working to define Mitt Romney before he can define himself. During this time the campaign puts out many types of advertising to see what resonates and what is effective and which ones can or cannot be effectively countered by the opposition. This is the testing phase, not the General Election. We’re not voting for a few more months (an ETERNITY in political terms).
Second, let’s talk about the very interesting man who is Cory Booker. The man who said this and we all hailed him for it:
“Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people. Before you tell me how much you love your God, show me how much you love all His children. Before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as how you choose to live and give.”
I wish he hadn’t made the comments he did yesterday; but I also wish that he hadn’t become the subject of a character assassination the way he was. I get it, TOD is the mama bear protecting her cub and comes out, claws and teeth bared, ready to protect the President at all costs. Cory Booker is just a man. He’s allowed to make mistakes. He clearly isn’t getting the best advice about how to express his opinions in the public forum. He shows the same weakness as his fellow Rhodes Scholar, Rachel Maddow. They’re both young-ish and have egos and probably don’t have someone like Michelle Obama to keep them grounded and humble. Probably neither of them had someone like Stanley Ann Dunham to raise them to be more intuitive than they are. And they both could use a good dose of up-side-the-head maturity and learn to think strategically. They both need mentoring from an adult like the President. Of the two, I’d guess that Cory Booker would be more likely to seek out and accept that kind of mentoring than would Rachel.
I’m not going to throw Cory Booker under the bus just yet. There is too much potential for good from that man, too much capability and inner strength and capacity for honesty. I dislike what he said, but I don’t believe the President was harmed in any way by it. The President and his team know how to run a campaign for the office of President. Cory Booker does not. What happened to Cory yesterday must have been viewed by the Right as a true victory. They are as afraid of Cory’s appeal as they are President Obama. If we handed them the ultimate destruction of Cory Booker’s political career based on one gaffe, then they must be celebrating right now. Frankly I don’t think Cory did that much damage to his career. If George Allen can survive the ‘maccaca’ incident (he’s running for office again, isn’t he?), then Cory can survive this. It is my hope Cory learns a profound lesson from this and seeks out some adult guidance on how to avoid such a misstep in the future.