Blaming the Messenger?
(Sorry about the Boeing advert up-front—it’s part of the clip. But if you were possibly in the market, for say, a small jet, I hope that was helpful to you.)
Now that we’re in the second day of foofaraw over Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s oddly off-message statement on Meet the Press, I feel comfortable saying: Meh. I know. Some people are saying he’s trashed the Obama campaign’s line of attack regarding Romney’s record at Bain. I think that on the merits of Romney actually not having a damn thing else he’s running on, it’s still a good line of attack, as these things go, especially when you look at things like the amazingly lop-sided profits to creditor repayment ratio in the Ampad deal (that looks like a Mafia bust-out, seriously). It’s still a valid line of questioning regarding Romney’s involvement with job-creation (or destruction, as the case may be), as Booker himself has pointed out in his walk-back.
The “both sides do it” part of his comments is what I found more distasteful. There just isn’t an equivalence between Obama’s attendance at Trinity United Church being used as a smear (“Black! Liberation! Theology!”) against him, versus a critical look at just what Mitt Romney is putting forward as his claim to understanding the economy. The former tactic is a device to try and make President Obama responsible for every out of context thing another person may have said in his presence to present him as a dubiously American “other”. The latter is, I would say, the thing Mitt Romney’s campaign has invited us to do by making his record as businessman the central rationale for his campaign.
I just don’t think there’s really a long-term harm coming from a muddled message, here. Honestly, although there’s going to be some waving of Booker’s statement around in a “even Obama Surrogate Cory Booker said….” fashion, it’s still early in the campaign. It’ll pass. And actually, I’m more interested in some ways with the degree of push-back Booker has gotten from Obama defenders (I’m kind of glad to see it, actually). It tells me people are fed up with false equivalence and fired up to set the record straight.
Also, I don’t think it should do much more for Cory Booker than remind him: there is no such thing as post-partisan in an election year. I can appreciate the point of keeping a positive message as a surrogate for Obama, and he did mention some good points about how Obama’s policies have benefited the economy already—but without pushing back against smears, given how dirty this campaign is shaping up to be with all the PAC money involved—he wasn’t really doing it right.