There are more important things than this happening in politics today but I have to waste a post on it because I can’t get over it. This guy just enjoyed three days of copious media coverage for defending the principle that it’s not okay to be cordial with bigots. “Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone,” Booker declared in a statement released on Wednesday. At the time, that sounded like a principled moral rebuke to Biden’s transactionalist approach to segregationist colleagues. Granted, Booker seemed to say, being chummy with James Eastland might help you move your agenda, but at what price? What legislation is worth mainstreaming the sort of degenerate who’d say something like this?
It turns out that the key words in Booker’s statement were “for black people.” Making America a safer and more inclusive place for Jewish people evidently isn’t important enough to keep Cory from meeting with one of the country’s most obnoxious anti-semites.
He’s a fraud. And a moral coward, needless to say: Booker surely recognized the hypocrisy of what he was saying here, but he said it anyway because he feared alienating his audience. He was in South Carolina, a state where the primary electorate was 61 percent black in 2016; the crowd at this event was mostly black as well; and the whole point of his attack on Biden this week was to try to get the attention of black voters, who momentarily lean heavily towards Uncle Joe. Had Booker come out strongly against Farrakhan here, he would have risked undoing all of the work he put in this week to ingratiate himself to black voters by condemning someone whom many of them admire, to their great shame.
Forced to choose between principled moral consistency and winning votes, he chose votes. You couldn’t ask for a starker revelation about what his real motive was in attacking Biden a few days ago.
I bet Uncle Joe will be itching to throw this in his face when he sees the clip, but he won’t. After all, that would require Biden to condemn Farrakhan, creating the same electoral risk that Booker faced with this very question. So long as black voters (a) remain a core Democratic constituency and (b) continue to treat Farrakhan as some sort of icon, no Democratic pol with national ambitions will really denounce him. So Biden’s a moral coward too, but his transactionalism at least has the virtue of consistency: He’ll work with Eastland, Farrakhan, whoever, so long as they’re working on a goal which Biden supports. Booker, by contrast, will work only with the bigots who target other groups, not his own. Some principle.
Exit question: Is he even going to make it to the South Carolina primary next year? He’s apt to get creamed in Iowa and New Hampshire, at which point also-rans typically leave the race. Booker might hang around for SC in the hope that black voters there will deliver for him, but by that point it’ll probably be more useful to him to play kingmaker by endorsing someone else instead. That is, unless he looks to finish in the top two or three, his role in the South Carolina primary will essentially be drawing off votes from a true contender for the nomination who badly needs those voters. Better for him to quit and endorse at that point, hoping that the eventual winner of South Carolina goes on to win the presidency and ends up owing him, than to stay put, win 10 percent or whatever, and then drop out.