New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (D) is prepared to run for president in 2020, because to sit out the race for the White House would be downright delinquent of him. “Of course the presidency will be something I consider. It would be irresponsible not to,” said the Ivy League Democrat turned ancient gladiator during an interview with New York Magazine.
For the people
Breaking with tradition in January 2017, Booker became the first sitting senator to testify against a colleague in a confirmation hearing, proclaiming, “In the choice between standing with Senate norms or standing up for what my conscience tells me is best for our country, I will always choose conscience and country.”
Sound familiar? In a made-for-TV moment during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Booker insisted that he “knowingly broke the rules” by releasing documents which were declassified days earlier, ominously declaring that “the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate.”
The former Newark mayor has positioned himself as the heir apparent of the Obama presidency, using preachy one-liners like “I will always choose conscience and country” that could have been copied straight from the Obama playbook.
Booker has worked to dismiss critics who question his ability to run a campaign like the 44th U.S. president. For instance, Washington Post contributor Chris Cillizza called Booker’s 2013 special election victory “far from inspiring” and expressed doubts about whether he could “step up to the challenge of a national race in the same way Obama did … ”
Booker must have had those criticisms in mind when he told New York Magazine’s Jonathan Van Meter, “My spirits are up, but I just campaigned for nearly every candidate in Nevada: secretary of State; guy for AG; guy running for governor; uh, Jacky Rosen, who will hopefully be my colleague; some assembly and legislative leaders,” he explained, providing exhaustive details which were clearly meant to frame himself as the tireless campaigner. “Then flew to Seattle, landed, headlined an event there, and then got right on a plane at 6 a.m. and came back,” Booker finally finished.
However, some Democrats aren’t buying the Obama 2.0 strategy for the White House. Van Meter explained how Booker’s version of “Hope and Change” can come across of a bit too contrived and condescending:
A handful of my friends, mostly coastal liberals, have a dim view of Booker — and perhaps of earnestness altogether, come to think of it. They squirm when he talks about “courageous empathy” and the need not just to tolerate each other but love each other. (“Tolerance says I couldn’t care less; love says I couldn’t care more. Tolerance crosses the street when it sees you coming; love confronts love and embraces.”)
I recently heard someone describe him as “too Care Bear,” and someone else describe his televised grilling in Senate hearings as “pageantry.” One woman who is engaged in liberal politics wrinkled her nose when I mentioned him recently. “He just seems a bit … programmed.”
It didn’t help that the Democratic presidential contender’s behavior during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings was an obvious dry-run for the 2020 campaign season.
In a move that seemed too rehearsed, Booker’s office circulated a fundraising letter via social media timed to coincide precisely with his committee grandstanding.
Moments after several Democrat senators interrupt #KavanaughHearing with questions about unreleased documents, a fundraising email from @SenBooker gets blasted out: (h/t @ArdenFarhi) pic.twitter.com/63rB1vpf4v
— Bo Erickson (@BoKnowsNews) September 4, 2018
A Booker presidency wouldn’t necessarily feel like a third term for Obama, however. The New Jersey legislator has positioned himself to the left of the liberal establishment, championing income equality and other Bernie Sanders-type social issues.
Booker would be wise to remember that his Thracian hero from ancient Roman times may have won dozens of battles against the empire, but he lost the war and was killed in battle.
In the same manner, Booker’s presidential aspirations could die during the Democratic primaries, bringing an ignoble end to a Democratic insurgent.