Cory Booker: We're spiraling towards a debate stage with "no diversity whatsoever"

Cory Booker: We're spiraling towards a debate stage with "no diversity whatsoever"

A friendly reminder that when Democrats say “diversity,” they mean one very specific type of diversity and only that very specific type of diversity. In some ways, the six candidates who have made the stage at the next debate are notably diverse. There are two women, a gay man, and the would-be first Jewish president among them. Joe Biden would be only the second Catholic to win the White House.

Plus, Bernie’s a communist. Ideological diversity too!

Tulsi Gabbard still has a fighting chance of making the debate, which would add a third woman and a member of a racial minority to the group. But somehow I don’t think her addition would clear the “diversity” bar either for the lone black candidate remaining in the race. (Technically Wayne Messam’s still in it too, but c’mon.)

More annoying than Booker’s overt racial pandering here is his insistence that Harris will be missed because she’s been “speaking to issues that need to be brought up”:

Half the reason Harris flamed out as early as she did is the fact that she *wasn’t* speaking to issues in a meaningful way. Policy-wise, her campaign will be remembered for two things. One was her cynical attempt at the first debate to revive the long dormant subject of busing as a salient issue in the campaign because she thought she could use it to score a point on Joe Biden among his base of black voters. How cynical was it? Harris herself inched away from the issue afterward, admitting that she didn’t necessarily support federally mandated busing either. That was typical of her entire campaign — because she tried to be all things to all people, no one could ever trust her commitment to their favored position.

And of course that was also true on the second policy issue for which she’ll be remembered, Medicare for All. She backed Bernie’s health-care plan to ingratiate herself to progressives, then began hedging when reporters asked her if she really intended to end private insurance for 180 million people. Harris “spoke to issues that need to be brought up” only to the extent that she thought doing so, or not doing so, would improve her chances of winning. She was a consummate example of a politician who runs for president because she wants to be president, not because she has a policy vision for the country that compels her to do so. In the end, she had nothing important to say.

Booker has a very specific goal with his pro-Harris shtick today, though, even beyond his straightforward attempt to pander to her voters in hopes of becoming their second choice:

He’s trying to demagogue the DNC into changing the rules mid-stream for qualifying for the next debate on grounds that it’ll be kinda sorta racist if neither of the two black senators are onstage. Between this and Julian Castro’s dopey accusation yesterday that the media is guilty of a double standard by daring to cover the collapse of Harris’s campaign, what we’re seeing is various minority Dem candidates straining to accuse the Democratic primary electorate of racism without actually accusing them. Castro wants to insinuate that prejudice beat Harris in hopes that it’ll lead guilty Dem voters to give him a second look, but of course he can’t accuse the voters themselves of prejudice in disliking Harris. So he accuses the press. Booker also wants to insinuate that prejudice is behind his failure to earn a spot on the debate stage, but of course he can’t accuse the voters of prejudice in not supporting him enough in the polls. So it’s the DNC’s rules that are suddenly arbitrary and unfair. Everyone’s racist — except those dear voters.

This is the conundrum of Cory Booker. He’s smart, he’s usually effective at debates, he can be charming when he’s not trying too hard. But usually he does try too hard and he’s completely transparent when he does. His shtick here, replete with calling Harris his “sister” (something he’s made a point of doing in other interviews today), is so heavy-handed that you’re left rolling your eyes.

Even his claim in the second clip that Harris didn’t have the funds she needed to go on, which is supposed to be unfair because Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg have money to burn, turns out not to be true. Harris could have gone on. She chose not to because, at the end of the day, she cares more about retaining a modicum of power as a senator than betting everything she has on her nonexistent vision for the presidency:

Booker probably knows that but he also knows that, as a Democrat in 2020, all bad things can and should be traced back to billionaires. It’s demagoguery all the way down.

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David Strom 6:01 PM on February 01, 2023