He can save a dog from the freezing cold; he can rescue a neighbor from a burning building; and he can empathize with the nearly 50 million Americans that rely on SNAP. But do all of these heroic feats make Newark Mayor Cory Booker a good fit for the Senate? Or is he just a good guy who doesn't have enough grit or tact for ruthless D.C. politics?
A recent attack by Politico paints Booker as a "glass jawed" apparition that will likely be chewed up by the cruel media and grumpy men and women of Congress. The article questions whether or not the Jersey superstar can handle the pressure of the public's microscope, which is apparently an unwritten portion of the Senate job description. However, as soon as you continue reading the drawn out piece, Politico exposes and disqualifies itself as being spiteful when it uses the fact that Booker rescheduled and canceled numerous interviews with their reporters to validate their "glass jaw" claim.
From what we've observed thus far, Booker gives us little reason to doubt that he has the mental and emotional fitness to survive Main Street. If he could survive in one of Newark's toughest projects, then we have little reason to fear that caviar and private jets is too daunting of a lifestyle. However, the real question that needs to be asked is if Booker has substance as a policymaker. Instead of chin-checking his interview prowess (which has been rather solid, despite what some sources claim), it is time to learn about the real Booker: the one that works for Newark.
With so much coverage of his Hollywood-like deeds, many people may have forgotten that he is actually the mayor of a major city that is plagued by social ills, including a violent crime rate that is three times the national average. The reality of Booker's misguided critiques can even be found in a simple Google search experiment. If you Google "Bloomberg New York City budget," you'll find information about Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed budget for 2013; if you type in "Cory Booker Newark budget," you'll find pages and pages of stories about him living on a food stamp budget. If you have the patience, you'll eventually come across an article that suggests Booker has a lot less followers of his fiscal decisions and large salary payouts than followers of his Twitter feed. Booker has also failed to overcome Newark's paramount, and perhaps trademark, financial woes of increased taxes, increased layoffs, and constant restructuring.
Yet, Mayor Booker still receives more accolade than most. And while everything about Booker's Mayoral track record makes his praise seem rather undeserved, I still find that there is a good reason for his acclaim — a reason that suggests he's better suited for Congress than Newark's mayoral office, and far from deserving of a glass jaw label.
What makes Booker the most fit for the Senate position is that he has yet to forget that he is human. Surely, Booker may have regretted closing down three fire departments or failing to establish a snow clean-up plan and contract before 2011's blizzard. But Mayor Booker was able to show that even when his policymaking lagged, he wasn't too far removed from society to get down in the trenches and take immediate action to aid his neighbors before going back to make corrections for the future.
If more members of Congress were willing to get a little snow and rubble on them to make up for their shortcomings, then we'd all be a lot better off. Booker's mindset and support of millions is one that will shine through in the Senate more than Newark's City Council, and will keep his chin guarded from the likes of a Politico.