The Booker insurgency grows
Newark mayor Cory Booker may have been reduced to filming “hostage videos” in which he apologizes for throwing sharp spikes of reason and temperance beneath the madly spinning wheels of the Obama re-election bus, but the Booker Insurgency continues to grow.
Harold Ford Jr., formerly a Democrat congressman from Tennessee, was welcomed to the ranks on Monday. Ford was no small-time back-bencher. He took a credible shot at wrestling House leadership away from Nancy Pelosi, and served as leader of the Democratic Leadership Council – a now-forgotten artifact of an earlier time, when there really were “moderates” in the Democrat Party. As Ford proudly notes in his biography, President Bill Clinton, another exponent of the DLC, once called him “the walking, living embodiment of where America ought to go in the 21st century.”
Ford is still walking and living, and like Booker he’s on board with the Obama re-election effort. In a March 2012 Wall Street Journal op-ed, he made a point of beginning with a salute to President Obama’s “underappreciated” successes and “ignored” accomplishments – hilariously including “unemployment is down” – before grumbling about high gas prices. Ford went on to offer the President some sound advice on energy policy, which unfortunately could not be heard over the roaring motor of the algae-fueled Obama campaign bus.
More grumbles were heard from Ford on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday, where he said, “Overall I agree with the substance” of Booker’s complaint about Obama’s “nauseating” attacks on private equity, and “would not have backed off the comments if I were Mayor Booker.”
“Having said that,” Ford continued, “I understand as a servant to the campaign you have to have one of your key and most effective surrogates at least clarify or at least bring some context to his statements… But I agree with him, private equity’s not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, private equity is a good thing in many, many instances.”
As with Booker’s defense of capitalism, that’s not nearly full-throated enough – we don’t need politicians telling us about the “many, many instances” where “private equity is a good thing,” because then we’ll get their corrupt opinions on the instances where it’s a bad thing – but it’s still remarkable coming from a Democrat.
On Tuesday, Team Booker welcomed former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, who called the attacks on Mitt Romney’s old investment firm, Bain Capital, “very disappointing.”
Rendell was giving an interview to Buzzfeed about the tension between Obama and certain Clinton-aligned elements of the Democrat machine when he said, “I think Bain is fair game, because Romney has made it fair game. But I think how you examine it, the tone, what you say, is important as well.”
He also professed admiration for Mayor Booker, saying “People in politics should tell the truth. He could have qualified it better, he could have framed it better, but if you’re in this business, none of us like negative ads.
Presumably Rendell means nobody in the business of electoral politics likes being the target of negative ads, because if he really thinks nobody likes launching them, he must have tumbled from the back of a truck in a shower of turnips when arriving at that Buzzfeed interview. Of course, politicians love to re-define the concept of the “negative ad” at their convenience, banishing anything they don’t want to discuss into the Negative Zone. I’ll bet every incumbent would love to pass a rule that candidates can only talk about themselves, but it would be considerably less popular with challengers.
The Booker Insurgency didn’t really originate with Cory Booker’s famed expression of nausea over Obama campaign tactics on Meet the Press. As far back as January, one of President Obama’s former economic advisers, Steven Rattner – himself a veteran of the private equity industry – was blowing the whistle on Bain Capital attacks, calling Romney’s old outfit a “first-class firm.”
Last week, also during a “Morning Joe” appearance, Rattner responded to the infamous Obama ad that hammered Romney for job losses at a Bain acquisition called GST Steel – job losses that occurred after Romney left Bain. Leaving that quibble aside, Rattner found the entire line of thinking behind the ad completely wrong-headed, adding that he thought it was a “mistake” for Romney to tout his resume at Bain as evidence of his job-creation skills.
“Bain Capital’s responsibility was not to create a hundred thousand jobs, or some other number,” said Rattner. “It was to make profits for its investors – most of whom were pension funds, endowments, and foundations – and it did it superbly well, acting within the rules, acting very responsibly, and was a leading firm.”
Rattner decried the dishonesty of picking out one or two individuals who lost their jobs as a result of corporate acquisition, as if the only “moral” capital investment would be one in which everyone got to keep their jobs and benefits. “This is part of capitalism, this is part of life, and I don’t think there’s anything Bain Capital did that they need to be embarrassed about,” he explained.
It’s interesting to compare Rattner’s comments with Obama’s view of the presidency, offered at the NATO summit in Chicago on Monday: “My view of private equity is that it is set up to maximize profits, and that’s a healthy part of the free market. When you’re president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot. Your job is to think about those workers who get laid off and how are we paying for their retraining.”
Rattner’s criticism of Romney for bringing up his Bain Capital achievements is off-base, however, because it assumes Romney views his prospective new job in Washington the same way Obama does. Romney is not angling to launch a hostile takeover of America, Incorporated and begin personally directing “investments” to “create jobs.” He has advanced his private sector experience to demonstrate that he understands how job creation occurs, and intends to remove the tax and regulatory obstacles Obama has put in place. He’s not offering to replace socialist “soft tyranny” with corporatist soft tyranny, repurposing Obama’s corrupt systems to fit his notion of command economics. Romney is, in the main, campaigning on a promise to dismantle those systems, not open a subsidiary of Bain Capital in the White House. Look at his campaign platform and judge for yourself.
(Whether Mitt Romney keeps those promises is the same question of character we are frequently told not to ask about liberal candidates. I don’t hear anyone from the Romney campaign telling us “character doesn’t matter,” as Bill Clinton’s forces did.)
The idea that this failed President thinks his job involves taking over the economy, to impose his vision of “how everybody in the country has a fair shot,” is terrifying. We’ve known he thinks this way since the “Joe the Plumber” episode. It seems a small, but growing, number of voices within his Party are growing uncomfortable with it.
Their insurgency has met stiff pushback from the Obama campaign and its auxiliaries. Booker’s “hostage video” hasn’t saved him from continuing attacks by the far Left. ThinkProgress, for example, decided to punish him on Monday by running an article critical of his 2002 campaign contributions from venture capitalists, receiving “more than $565,000 from the people he was defending,” including at least $36,000 “from folks at Romney’s old firm.”
Wow! You mean a whole 6 percent of Booker’s venture capitalist donations came from Bain? Whoa, stop the presses! And while they’re stopped, why don’t we throw in some figures about how much Barack Obama has gotten from these firms? One of the names dropped by ThinkProgress in its Booker hit piece is Jonathan Lavine, who gave Booker’s 2002 campaign a thousand bucks. That wouldn’t be the same Jonathan Lavine who serves as a top Obama campaign money man, would it? The guy who actually was working at Bain when all those jobs were lost at GST Steel, unlike Mitt Romney? And shouldn’t we talk about the huge piles of money Obama continues to receive from the disgraced Jon Corzine?
Ah, but that’s not how you punish an upstart who has forgotten his place, is it? There’s plenty more where that came from, Mayor Booker. Your Party does not tolerate even the mildest flavor of dissent from crucial campaign narratives, especially those that make the least amount of rational sense.
Update: the Booker Insurgency welcomes Miami real-estate magnate and top Obama fundraiser Don Peebles to its ranks: “I think it’s difficult to attack or demonize an industry and then take money from it. I think it’s inconsistent. I wonder why the leaders of that industry are supporting him… Any type of attack and vilification of a particular industry is not OK to begin with.”
Update: “An urban mayor who nearly DIED saving neighbor from a fire, has earned right 2 demand integrity & courage from other leaders.” – Van Jones, via Twitter.
Yes, THAT Van Jones, Obama’s thwarted appointee to the “green czar” throne… although it’s possible that White House spokesman Jay Carney knows several people by that name, just as he knows at least three women named “Hilary Rosen.”