First, They Came for Cory Booker

May 24, 2012 - 4:48 AM

Cory Booker is, by most accounts, a reasonable man. He went to Stanford and Oxford, as well as Yale Law School; now he's the mayor of Newark. He's also African-American. That last fact is only important because liberals have made it so.

Booker has been a strong backer of President Obama — so strong, in fact, that in 2009, Obama offered him a slot in his administration as head of the Office of Urban Affairs Policy. Booker turned it down on the grounds that he wanted to fulfill his job as mayor.

That should have been the end of the story. Obama and Booker should have remained friends. Instead, President Obama's desperation to beat Mitt Romney into the ground led Obama to attack Romney's record at Bain Capital, over and over again.

On NBC, Booker, who the Obama campaign trotted out as their "surrogate," made the mistake of telling the truth. When asked about Obama's attacks on Bain Capital, he was honest enough to rip the tactic: "I live in a state where pension funds, union and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital's record, they've done a lot to support business, to grow business, and this, to me, I'm very uncomfortable with. ... This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides. It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity."

This put Booker right in the firing line of the left. It was one thing for an Obama surrogate to go off-message — Obama surrogates from Joe Biden to Hilary Rosen have done it repeatedly. It was another thing for an African-American Obama supporter to go off-message.

The White House was fuming mad — so mad that the Democratic National Committee called up Booker to chew him out. Meanwhile, spokespeople for the Obama campaign appeared on television to assure the public that no such action was taking place. Republicans quickly cut an ad showing the Obama campaign lying about putting pressure on Booker.

Booker, properly chastised, quickly backed down. He cut a video on YouTube kissing President Obama's ring; he took to Twitter to send missive after missive about how he supported Obama. He suddenly reversed himself, explaining that Romney was running as a businessman, so Obama should attack Romney's record. He even said he was "upset I'm being used by the GOP this way."

Let's stop and consider for a minute. After Booker made his remarks on "Meet the Press," prominent Democrats including former Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., all backed him up. But they didn't receive anywhere near the same kind of scrutiny Booker did.

Why? The obvious answer is that they are all white, while Booker is black. It is one thing for a white Democrat to disagree with Obama on anything; for a black American to disagree with President Obama is akin to treason.

That perverse political truism explains President Obama's embrace of same-sex marriage. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People came out this week in support of same-sex marriage, even calling it a civil rights issue — even though just 39 percent of black Americans support same-sex marriage. Why have major institutional black organizations come out in support of President Obama's policy? Because they feel that racial loyalty will overcome ideological diversity.

Even worse, while groups like the NAACP demand ideological conformity from black Americans, so do white liberals such as Chris Matthews, who said that Booker had engaged in an "act of sabotage," a "betrayal." The truth is that during the "Meet the Press" interview, Booker gushed over Obama's economic policy and endorsed him multiple times. So that simply wasn't true. But straying from the Obama path is verboten, even for black liberals.

Booker's race shouldn't be important to this story. There's only one reason it is: Liberals want to use race as a litmus test for ideology. And that is deeply bigoted.