The Hard Realities of Cory Booker’s Reign in Newark

by Jim Geraghty

American Commitment Action Fund, a conservative super PAC, is launching a web video that brutally contrasts the campaign boasts of Newark mayor Cory Booker with the ugly realities of life in the city and the way he governs. In short, all glitzy image, few actual results:

The video features quite a bit of Booker criticism from Ras Baraka, a Newark city councilman . . . who is also the son of Amiri Baraka.

If that name sounds familiar, you’re probably remembering Baraka’s post-9/11 controversy:

In September 2002, at the Dodge Poetry Festival in Waterloo, N.J., Amiri Baraka stood up on stage and read his recently published poem on the 9/11 attacks, “Somebody Blew Up America.”

The crowd reacted with stunned silence, and several people booed. A few days later, Gov. Jim McGreevey asked Baraka to resign his post as Poet Laureate of New Jersey. This year, Baraka returned to the festival, and read the poem again.

About half the audience stood to cheer when he was finished, while the other half was either clapping quietly, or sitting with arms crossed, scowling. Baraka hadn’t changed the poem, and the line that outraged so many people in 2002 was still there: “Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed / Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers / To stay home that day / Why did Sharon stay away?”

Who could imagine that 11 years later, his son would be featured in a conservative super PAC’s ad?

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