The Legend of Cory Booker

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from The American Spectator,

Newark’s patron-saint mayor could do no wrong. So why does everybody hate him now?

Throughout all [of New Jersey’s political scandals] —and even after Jersey governor Jon Corzine piled on to the Democrats’ tough decade, bumbling through his first term, losing a stunner to Christie, and limping back to Wall Street just long enough to become a crook—Booker remained a lone bright spot.

For do-gooders in the know, Booker’s halo arguably shone brighter than even that of his friend and sponsor, Barack Obama.

Booker was, is, and will ever be a Democrat—a touchy-feely, politics-as-redemption type with both progressive and Blue Dog streaks, whose bad ideas are mitigated only by the fact he doesn’t appear to have thought that hard about them.

But the key to Booker’s bipartisan appeal was, in large measure, his clinical insanity. The stories are now well known: As a freshman councilman he literally pitched a tent on a crack corner in Newark’s bowels and embarked on a 10-day hunger strike to draw attention to “open-air” dealing. He lived for eight years in the city’s blighted Brick City projects, often bathing in boiled water trickling down from a rubber camp shower, and subsisted on a “food stamp budget” as an act of solidarity with the persistently poor. Having drawn death threats from every two-bit collection of gangbangers west of the Turnpike, as mayor he donned a Kevlar vest on midnight ride-alongs with loyal Newark cops who served like so many Untouchables. In his spare time he shoveled constituents’ driveways, rescued stranded puppies, and even collected second-degree burns pulling a woman out of a burning building.

THUS WAS THE stuff of the Cory Booker Legend—except it was all true, lovingly covered in the national press, and a far cry from the union back-slapping, ethnic divide-and-conquer, and suburban grin-and-greet that mark the days of most New Jersey Democrats.

I’ll come right out and say it: There was something eminently Christian, even Christ-like, not just in the selflessness of Booker’s ministry, but in its wild-eyed borderline mania, as if he were a Pope who knelt to wash his flock’s feet, not in a ritual of self-effacement and remembrance, but out of earnest concern for the podiatric hygiene of each and every Newarker.

If these words are hyperbolic, it’s because so was Cory Booker.

How come everybody all of the sudden hates Cory Booker?

If you go back and look at the videotape of Booker’s mildly infamous appearance on Meet the Press during the presidential campaign, the answers are all there. In the midst of the greatest political assaults on prosperity since Franklin Roosevelt’s campaign quipped that fretting about the U.S. Constitution was a sure sign you had a million bucks in the bank, Booker had the temerity to tell David Gregory he found the Obama campaign’s demonization of private equity “nauseating.” The Left exploded, naturally, and Booker endured a news cycle of vicious flogging, going so far as to post a four-minute YouTube recantation that plays like a hostage video. But the Left never forgot, and Booker’s “gaffe” bears hallmarks of all of the criticisms, fair and unfair, driving the recent turn against him.

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