Monday, May 21, 2012

Progressive Idiocy: Cory Booker Edition

There's been a bit of chatter today about Newark Mayor Cory Booker's support of Bain Capital's right of plunder. This paragraph of Glenn Greenwald's sums things up pretty well:

Yesterday, Newark Mayor Cory Booker went on Meet the Press and angered hordes of Democrats when he condemned the Obama campaign’s attacks on Bain as “nauseating,” equated the anti-Bain messaging to the GOP’s sleazy use of Jeremiah Wright, and then demanded: “stop the attacks on private equity” (in response to the backlash, Booker then released a hostage-like video recanting his criticisms and pledging his loyalty to President Obama). But as my Salon colleague Steve Kornacki noted, this was not some aberrational outburst from Booker; to the contrary, as Mayor of Newark, home to numerous Wall Street executives and firms, “financial support from Wall Street and, more broadly speaking, the investor class has been key to Booker’s rise, and remains key to his future dreams.”

Democrats and Bain

And, as both Glenn and Taylor Marsh have gone on to point out, this is not aberrational behavior on the part of Democrats generally, either.

When I started hearing about the Cory Booker story all the way out here on the West Coast, I kinda figured there was some big money behind him. His story strikes me as being about as genuine as a three dollar bill, but how things seem is often a long way from how they are. It could be that he really does run the city by day and fight crime by night. I don't know, and at the moment, I don't care.

How things are is that politicians must pursue power. It’s what they need to do their jobs. As long as that’s true, if there are no consequences to aligning themselves to folks like Bain, Democratic politicians will do that, by and large. And there will be no consequences for Booker or any of the other Democrats who do this, because most progressives will continue to support them no matter what, and they know that. Progressive advocacy groups are largely toothless, when they’re not colluding with Democrats outright. Whether that’s because progressives generally are uninterested in making waves, or they just don’t know enough thanks to relying on those same advocacy groups for information is perhaps a worthy subject for debate, though I think it’s a feedback loop.

When progressives punish this sort of behavior by not supporting or voting for politicians like this, their behavior may change. It certainly won’t until then.

In this context at least, it really doesn't matter if Cory Booker is a fake or exactly what he appears to be. He's a politician, and if he's the least bit interested in staying one, he'll try to please the power that will take its votes and money elsewhere if it isn't pleased. That power isn't progressive voters or advocacy groups. Any progressives who are surprised by Booker's support of Wall Street pirates shouldn't be. In politics, voter loyalty is for suckers.

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.

UPDATE/Afterword: In that link from the Greenwald quote, Steve Kornacki confirms my opinion about whether Booker's words will come back to haunt him if he has bigger ambitions than running Newark:

It wouldn’t be surprising if Booker has already heard from the White House, and surely he’s now in for a world of abuse from Obama supporters. But that hardly means he made a mistake, at least in terms of his own ambition. Financial support from Wall Street and, more broadly speaking, the investor class has been key to Booker’s rise, and remains key to his future dreams.

Cory Booker, surrogate from hell

In my observation, Kornacki is a reasonably astute observer of DC and East Coast politics. He doesn't even mention the idea that progressives might decide this guy isn't worth supporting, and take their money, resources, and votes elsewhere. I don't think there's any reason to hope that he'll be regretting that omission.

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