Many people who think of Booker only as your typical urban liberal (who, for one thing, endorsed gay marriage long before Obama) may be wondering where his defense of private equity is coming from. Well, where it’s coming from is from one side of the rift that I described in this piece: the split between the Obama administration and the hedge fund and private equity managers who, only a few years ago, felt a special bond with Candidate Obama. Many of the same Wall Street types who saw Obama as a new kind of Democrat, a brilliant superstar floating above the hacks (not unlike themselves, floating above the time-serving i-bankers!) saw the Ivy League-educated, magnetic Booker much the same way, and supported him accordingly—Booker’s campaigns for mayor got huge backing from across the river, as his decidedly hackish opponent Sharpe James liked to point out. Well, three years later, Obama has lost many of these supporters, for the reasons I describe in my piece. But Booker—who does not have to worry himself about things like financial reform and the carried interest loophole—has managed to remain in their good graces. He has not had to seriously confront the inherent contradictions that have defined the Wall Street-Democratic alliance of the Bob Rubin/Chuck Schumer era. That is, until now.
It's funny to watch how badly so many people are misinterpreting the fallout from Bookergate, particularly those dissecting the far left where Booker's name is now mud. The fact that Booker was off-message from the Obama campaign? That bothered a few folks, but a lot of the people shaking their heads over the Newark mayor are the same liberals who've been the most critical of the president's centrism. And most liberals don't hate capitalism or "private equity" -- just how the game is rigged and how some folks take advantage.
What Bain Capital did in some cases -- bankrupting companies and destroying jobs while a few principals like Mitt Romney enriched themselves -- may be legal but it's not especially honorable or even moral, and when a nation's biggest problem is the destruction of jobs it would be weird to hand the keys to a world-class job destroyer.
Cory Booker is the proverbial poster child for why voters are so frustrated. We have two major political parties -- the party OF Wall Street and the party that pathetically sucks up to Wall Street. When the 99 Percent can't depend on the mayor of one of America's poorest cities to challenge the robber barons -- and it can't -- there's only one place left to go.