The Manchurian Mayor

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Booker and Axelrod on the Sunday Morning shows

I spend a lot of time in Newark, the one in Jersey, not the one in Delaware.  I’m not saying that I actually look forward to going there (crazy, I’m not) but in recent years the trips have been a little more pleasant.  Yes, that might sound like “I only have a little more cancer” but I’m being serious.  Ever since Corey Booker unseated the corrupt Sharpe James in the mayor’s race a few years ago, the city has been on the rise.  That’s because Booker is a decent fellow with an Ivy League pedigree, a no-nonsense view of crime and punishment (and rehabilitation,) a refusal to be a party zombie (he’s friends with Chris Christie, another iconoclast) and a refreshing ability to speak his mind.

Of course, when you are surrounded by people who are experts at speaking someone else’s mind, and who grind anyone who tells an accidental truth into dust, it doesn’t take much for you to backtrack, and less than gracefully.

 After Booker inartfully admitted the Obama campaign was wrong to attack venture capitalists, and that some of their attack ads were similar to the right’s crusade against Jeremiah Wright, he was pulled into one of those re-education camps that the North Koreans perfected.  It was as if the poor young mayor had become Lawrence Harvey in the Manchurian Candidate, re-programmed to sell the party line.

 Of course, conservatives had a field day with that one, launching a rather tasteless and pretextual campaign to ‘support’ Booker. The “I stand with Corey” schtick lacked even a vestige of sincerity, which made what could have been a great moment for Mitt Romney into a groan-inducing joke.

 Nonetheless, it is instructive to see how quickly President Obama calls in the wayward troops, especially when they spill the truthful beans.

 It’s going to be an interesting summer.

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