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Politics & Policy

Cory Booker, No Longer ‘Mr. Bipartisan’

From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Cory Booker, No Longer ‘Mr. Bipartisan’

It looks like New Jersey senator Cory Booker is interested in running for president in 2020. That’s the easiest way to explain a guy whose initial reputation in politics was “Mr. Bipartisan” throwing himself onto the tracks of an oncoming train of an all-but-certain confirmation:

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker is set to testify against Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions Wednesday in an unprecedented move during his attorney general confirmation.

This would be the first time in Senate history that a sitting senator will testify against another sitting senator for a Cabinet post during a confirmation.

“I do not take lightly the decision to testify against a Senate colleague,” Booker said. “But the immense powers of the attorney general combined with the deeply troubling views of this nominee is a call to conscience.”

Of course, it wasn’t that long ago that Sessions and Booker got along pretty well. Back in 2015, the pair introduced legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to participants of the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

“It is fitting that we honor the courage and determination of the civil rights marchers at Selma 50 years ago,” said Senator Sessions. “This was a truly pivotal event in the drive to achieve the right to vote for all Americans — a right which had systematically been denied. This action was historic and dealt a major blow to the deliberate discrimination that existed, producing a positive and lasting change for America. Those who stood tall for freedom on that fateful day deserve to be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal.”

“We are forever indebted to those brave Americans — men and women of diverse age, color, and creed — who gathered in Selma 50 years ago to march on the frontlines in the fight for equality and justice,” said Senator Booker. “As an American who stands on the shoulders of their courageous sacrifice, I am proud to honor these unsung heroes who victoriously overcame bigotry and hate by walking in unwavering love and peace.”

Representative John Lewis of Georgia is scheduled to testify against Sessions as well. Representative Martha Roby posted photos taken in Selma during the ceremony for the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” showing “Senator Sessions joining arms with civil rights icon Lewis and other leaders to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge.”

Democratic primary voters detest Donald Trump, and they’re likely to feel the same way three years from now. If Booker wants to be the Democratic nominee, he can’t win it as “Mr. Bipartisan.” So we should expect Booker to pursue an image as the Bernie Sanders–Howard Dean liberal ideal in the same way he chased the image of being a post-partisan healer, with grand, showy gestures that don’t accomplish much.

One other indicator of Booker’s not-so-hidden presidential ambitions: He’s doing interviews with New Hampshire radio stations.

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