Monday, May 21, 2012

Whe Jim Cramer's On the Mark and Cory Booker's Off It

CNBC presenter Jim Cramer and Newark Mayor Cory Brooker are both Democrats and high-profiled Democrats. I know that three years ago, Cramer took a creaming from The Daily Show's Jon Stewart for CNBC's part in misleading the public on the financial meltdown. I know that Cory Brooker is a highly educated, highly intelligent ueber Mayor, with friends who work in the same sort of high places that Cramer's CNBC touts.

But the difference is this: Cory Booker is supposed to be an operative for President Obama, someone who is supposed to be instrumental in "delivering" his home state of New Jersey to the President come election time.

Cory Booker also has political ambitions of his own, and maybe this is the explanation behind his astoundingly shocking performance of either political ineptitude or political tone-deafness (I haven't decided  which) on Sunday's Meet the Press program.

In fact, I'm increasingly thinking it was inept to the point that he possibly let his blind ambition get the better of him, because in the segue below, it's none other than hoary old Wall Street crone, Jim Cramer, who makes a point that Booker should have reinforced resoundingly: that Willard Mitt Romney is a job destroyer, and that he's had this singular reputation from his Bain Capital association ever since he first ran for political office against Ted Kennedy in 1994. In fact, it's the campaign strategy - emphasizing the job-destroyer aspect of Willard's reputation - which was successful in winning Ted Kennedy another term in the Senate, and it's the one thorn in Willard's privileged ass which everyone from the President (now) and his Republican primary opponents have relished sticking deeper into the filet mignon flesh of Willard's rich ass ... because he won't address this. He keeps moving the goalposts.

Cramer was totally emphatic in pushing this point, and his panel cohort from the Wall Street Journal agreed ... only to be shot down by the one panel participant who actually represented living, breathing politics and who actually was supposed to be a supporter of the President.

Watch what is now infamous:-

Specifically, Booker's words were:

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 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 invest in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And this, to me — I’m very uncomfortable with.

Steve Kornacki is rightfully blunt in his assessment of Booker's performance, whilst reminding people that, before Barack Obama had come onto the political scene, Cory Booker was the name being bandied about as possibly being the nation's first African-American Presidential hope back in 2002, when he won his mayoral election.

Playing up Romney’s Bain record is, of course, central to Obama’s general election plan. Romney is running as a business-savvy “job creator” and relying on the public’s tendency to associate private sector success with economic competence. There is no overstating how vital it is for Obama and his campaign to break that link, and to establish that Romney’s real expertise is in making investors rich – not adding jobs and improving the quality of life for middle class workers.

In belittling this strategy, Booker isn’t just breaking with Obama, he’s breaking with just about everyone who’s ever run against Romney – including Ted Kennedy, who used criticisms of Bain’s treatment of workers to pull away from Romney in their 1994 Senate race. Essentially, Kennedy created the blueprint that Obama is now using. Booker is also providing Republicans with a dream talking point: 

Even an immediate attempt to walk back his remarks hours later on a YouTube feed did little to stem a lot of consternation Democratic viewers saw in what they interpreted to be somewhat of a betrayal of the President by a Democratic operative on the election trail.

In a follow-up article today, Kornacki highlights the fact that Booker's high-profile, his political ambitions and his Wall Street connections, in addition to his faux pas on MTP yesterday morning, have already placed him on shaky ground with his Newark constituents, with whom the President is immensely popular.

Not that Booker wasn't lauded for his remarks. He was. In fact, Joe Scarborough and his panel made Booker the centrepiece of their discussion this morning, heralding his courage and spinning the message that more Democrats stand with Cory Booker than with the President. Oh, and John McCain tweeted Booker his support and encouragement also.

I actually think the most accurate assessment of Booker's brainfart-in-the-public-eye moment comes from Adam Serwer:

This isn't the worst example of disloyalty or veering off message, but if you're a Democrat who finds it "nauseating" to even discuss how some people end up needing the social safety net, you may be in the wrong party. 

The incongruity of the situation, for me, is that someone like Jim Cramer would so totally get an important campaign point, when someone as clever and politically au fait as Booker totally didn't.

The President had best reassess the efficacy of Booker as a political operative ... and bench him.

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