“It’s this guilty pleasure,” he confessed. “Look, manis are good, but pedis — there’s something . . . transformative.” After reading the interview, I made a trip to the public library in Newark, where I found the phone numbers of all of the nail establishments in the city, at least the ones listed in the phonebook. I called them to ask about their hours, and none of them claimed to be open all night. In fact, there’s only one salon in all of New York City that’s open 24 hours a day. When I showed the employees there a picture of Booker and asked if he was a customer, they told me they’d never seen him. A spokesman for the senator declined to tell me where he got his nails done.

What’s interesting is how many of Booker’s fiercest ideological opponents are riding the Booker juggernaut rather than going in for the kill. Cory Booker can be beaten, so why are they so eager to cozy up to him, so hesitant to take him on?

Take Rand Paul, with whom Booker appeared last week on PBS, CNN, and MSNBC. They were touting their proposal for reforming the country’s criminal-justice system. Paul campaigned energetically against Booker last year, but at a cocktail party hosted by Politico’s Mike Allen, they discussed the origins of their “bromance” and joked about co-starring in a reality show. This is the same Rand Paul who has knocked leaders of his own party for being insufficiently conservative, but there he was, arm-in-arm with a man who represents the blue-state liberalism he spends most of his time denouncing.