Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Reason #197: Cory Booker Is Allowed To Be Wrong

In case you haven't watched the news this week--like, at all--Cory Booker, the popular Democratic mayor of Newark, New Jersey and Obama campaign surrogate, went on Meet the Press Sunday morning and said that Obama's criticism of Mitt Romney's experience with Bain Capital--buying up failing companies and stripping them for parts--was "nauseating". Bain is looking to be the backbone of Obama's anti-Romney narrative for the next six months, so the campaign was understandably displeased, and Booker has spent the last 48 hours being lambasted by Democrats and, worse, exploited by Republicans.

First, let me just say that a campaign is not the same thing as a public forum, and if you're an officially-designated representative of said campaign, then they have every right to insist that you stay on-message, and punish you if you don't.

That said, one of the reasons I could never get into politics is that I'm completely incapable of what I call institutionalized advocacy--being required to embody someone else's opinions and/or platform at the expense of your own. It makes my skin crawl, in fact.

I want Obama to win, and I recognize that dissent within his ranks doesn't present a helpful image to undecided voters, but when someone like Chris Matthews--who I like a lot, but is decidedly not an Obama representative--unreservedly rails against Booker personally for daring to say what he actually thinks (the same thing that a lot of people praised Joe Biden for during the remarkably similar gay-marriage incident a couple weeks ago) it gets my back up. Matthews even went so far as to say that a couple more moments like this could cost Obama the election.

It was also mentioned that the campaign is now going to the trouble of vetting its other surrogates to ensure that their personal opinions don't damage Obama's narrative in the future. That, rather than Booker's perceived misdeed, should be the takeaway from this: don't expect someone to go on TV for you and say things they don't agree with.

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