Cory Booker — Spartacus and proud of it

Sen. Cory Booker is the latest Democratic entrant in the presidential sweepstakes. Not one to be defensive, Booker expressed pride in his Spartacus moment.

The moment was vintage Booker. He touted his courage in “exposing” a classified document, claiming that he risked expulsion from the Senate for doing so. But the document had already been approved for release. There was never a risk that Booker would be expelled for discussing it. Moreover, as Ed Morrissey reminds us. Booker misrepresented what the document showed.

But Booker is, I hope, prouder of his Spartacus moment than of the time last year when he held up for a photograph a sign saying “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go.” A spokesperson for Booker claimed Booker “didn’t have time to read the sign, and from his cursory glance he thought it was talking [only] about Mexico,” not Israel.

Maybe Booker just likes to have his picture taken.

In any case, Booker is no friend of Israel. He equivocated for a long time before deciding to sign on to legislation last year that would penalize businesses that comply with Israel boycotts. It’s too bad Booker couldn’t have voted “present” like Barack Obama did when he was in the Illinois Senate.

Booker’s flip-flopping on Israel divestment is preferable to Kirsten Gillibrand’s, though. She first backed the anti-boycott bills and now opposes them.

It will be fascinating to watch these two world-class phonies — Booker and Gillibrand — flipping from position to position as they jockey for the elusive sweet spot in this race.

For Booker, the sweet spot will be with black voters, I think. To be a strong contender for the Democratic nomination in this crowded field, he will probably have to be the most popular candidate among blacks. Since none of the non-black candidates is likely to remind anyone of Bill Clinton, this means he must outdo Sen. Kamala Harris among black primary voters and caucus goers (I’m assuming for purposes of discussion that Eric Holder doesn’t run).

This doesn’t seem like a tall order. Booker, phony though he is, might well come across as more authentically black than Harris. In addition, he’s not saddled with a record of prosecuting blacks. Harris may not have been a particularly aggressive prosecutor, but she was too aggressive, and too “law and order,” for the left.

In being that way, she was, of course, acting in the interest of the black community — plagued, as it is, by crime. But this might be a hard sell these days. In fact, it remains to be seen whether Harris will stand even partially behind her (mildly) aggressive record as prosecutor. This will be an interesting call for her.

Fortunately for Harris, she has potential crossover appeal. White women may find her an attractive candidate. Thus, even if Booker is the first choice of blacks, Harris might still have the edge as between the two.

Booker’s crossover appeal is questionable. He’ll have to be the first choice of blacks just to remain in contention, it seems to me.

I don’t discount his chances of accomplishing this.