Cory Booker trolls Tuberville's amendment: Yes, let's *not* defund the police!

A rare moment of genuine entertainment on the Senate floor. Last night Tommy Tuberville offered an amendment to the Dems’ infrastructure reconciliation package designed to corner them on policing. Under my amendment, said Tuberville, any municipality that votes to defund its local police force won’t be eligible for federal funds to fill that gap. I assume he’s anticipating a situation in which some progressive city somewhere cuts its police budget way back and the Biden White House, panicking about the optics of a move like that before the midterms, scrambles to find a way to fund that city’s police force anyway.

Which seems unlikely to me. Team Joe is working hard to avoid conflicts with the left ahead of 2022, which is why they just contrived that embarrassing, illegal extension of the eviction moratorium. If some Democrat-controlled city is considering defunding its police, BidenWorld will try to dissuade them via private lobbying behind the scenes, not with a big public funding fight that would piss off the left.

Even so, Tuberville apparently thought it’d be worth forcing a gut-check vote in the Senate to see where Democrats there stood on the issue. Which was … surprising, as the Dem establishment has been desperate since last year’s election to distinguish itself from radical police-defunders like Cori Bush. One of their great fears about the midterms is that the high visibility of extreme-left Squad members like Bush will be hung around the necks of Dems in purple districts, producing a huge red wave. They’ve been hunting around for ways to show swing voters that most Dems favor funding the cops even if the hard left doesn’t.

And Tuberville dropped an opportunity right in their lap. He threw them into the briar patch.

Senator Cory was so giddy about a freebie chance to contrast himself and his caucus with Rep. Cori that he wanted to hug Tuberville for it. Literally.

In fact, not only did he want to hug Tuberville, he actually did it:

Tuberville saved face afterward by declaring a moral victory: “All Senate Democrats Pounce at Chance to Distance Themselves from ‘Defund Police’ Rhetoric.” Yeah, but … that’s not good for the GOP. Why give them a chance to distance themselves from rhetoric that’s hugely useful to Republicans?

We’re left to wonder why Democrats themselves didn’t offer an amendment opposing police defunding given that they would benefit from it. All I can think is that Schumer is still jittery about the prospect of being primaried from the left next year and didn’t want to antagonize the AOCs in his party by proposing a measure that would encourage funding cops.

But if the GOP wanted to force one on them? Sure, they’ll applaud the hell out of that. Particularly given that there are likely to be no meaningful policy consequences from Tuberville’s amendment.

Booker has seen the peril in “defund the police” rhetoric from the start, by the way. Last June, while BLM demonstrations were happening, he said “it’s not a slogan I will use” while doing his best to assure the left that he understands their grievances. (“This is the outrage that I think people on the streets are feeling and that I share is that we are over policing as a society, that we are investing in police, who are not solving problems, but are making them worse, when we should be in a more compassionate country.”) Fourteen months and one electoral near-disaster later, most Dems are looking for an escape hatch from the slogan. The national polling is gruesome:

Seventy-five percent of respondents said more police are needed on the street while only 25 percent say they do not need more cops on the beat.

Seventy-two percent of voters also said they oppose “defunding the police,” and a slim 52 percent majority said they support the controversial practice of stop and frisk in urban areas to “deter gun crime.” Fifty-six percent also say they oppose eliminating cash bail.

A recent poll of one of America’s most Democratic cities, Detroit, found residents wanted more cops on the street rather than fewer by a margin of nine to one and opposed the idea of “defunding the police” by a margin of three to one. It’s a political bloodbath in the making for Biden’s party unless they can convince voters before next November that there are far more Eric Adamses in the party than Cori Bushes. By fall 2022, Biden might be walking around in a “Fund the Police” hat. Stay tuned.