I don’t know if you’re familiar with the kerfuffle involving the Mayor of Newark, NJ, Corey Booker, but it provides an interesting political point. Conn Carroll brings you up to date:
The fun started on Sunday when David Gregory asked Booker to defend the Obama campaign ads attacking Romney over his tenure at Bain Capital. Booker responded:
As far as that stuff, I have to just say from a very personal level, I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity. To me, it’s just this–we’re getting to a ridiculous point in America, especially that I know. I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, it ain’t–they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses, And this, to me, I’m very uncomfortable with.
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. This stuff has got to stop because what it does is it undermines, to me, what this country should be focused on. It’s a distraction from the real issues. It’s either going to be a small campaign about this crap or it’s going to be a big campaign, in my opinion, about the issues that the American public cares about.
For that, Booker caught terrific heat from the usual suspects on the left and, has since, begun to walk back this apparent political heresy.
So … what does it all mean?
Booker’s Meet the Press bungle will probably be forgotten by election day, but it is a symptom of a much larger problem for Obama. He has no positive record to run on. His advisers know he can only win by tearing down Romney. But this strategy is the opposite of the brand he established in 2008. The “Hope and Change” are gone. This is not the last time we are going to see Obama surrogates fail to stay on Chicago’s reelection message. Unlike Obama, many of them will have to face voters again.
Carroll hits the nail on the head. Where politicians of all stripes on the left could and did enthusiastically and unconditionally endorse Obama last campaign, now that he has a record, and a poor one at that, such an endorsement could be a huge political liability for them. Pushing the talking points could mean electoral trouble. Keeping a distance from Obama could mean the difference between winning and losing an election.
So … that’s what it all means. Corey Booker is no fool. And what he said is surprisingly honest as well as a reflection of how most people feel. All of this is a “distraction from the real issues”. But then, that’s the strategy of a president with an abysmal record.
Booker is a political animal and most likely has aspirations for higher office. He’s begun the inevitable walk back. But his moment of honesty and clarity signal some potential trouble for the distraction strategy known as the Obama campaign. When your own party operatives are dissatisfied with how you are conducting your campaign, it isn’t particularly difficult to conclude that most voters feel that way as well.
Somewhere, sometime, Obama is going to have to actually face the political music about his record. The sooner, of course, the better. When the focus turns to that, the numbers he enjoys now, along with the slight lead in the polls, will most likely disappear. And as they do, more and more Democrats are likely to be busy with “previous commitments” on days he visits their states.