The party faithful in the auditorium may have loved Newark Mayor Cory Booker's speech at the Democrat's national convention this week but an objective look at the up and coming Democrat's week and performance suggests Booker may not have done all that much to help himself going forward.
The capstone for Booker is standing and yelling at people for a full ten minutes, without inflection or tone. Is this the way to attract the moderate voters Booker ultimately seems to have in mind in fashioning his political career? Or, does Booker not really know who he is targeting? His politics look ad hoc and all over the map.
Is Booker the supposedly temperate Democrat he portrayed himself to be back in May when he told Meet the Press' David Gregory that "President Barack Obama’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s time with Bain Capital were 'nauseating to the American public' "?
Or, is Booker an overly fired-up dyed in blue Democrat capable of what some critics compared to Howard Dean's infamous scream?
Not everyone was thrilled with Booker’s speech, though. As he spoke, Twitter lit up with criticism of his delivery. Sample tweet: “Booker came for blood. He is so Jersey. Loud talking & finger pointing.” Later, one delegate told me it looked like a “Howard Dean moment,” in reference to the speech at which the former presidential candidate let out a particularly bizarre scream that is seen as having dashed his chance at election.
Eventually, Booker may also have some explaining to do as regards the Democrat's platform. He co-chaired the platform committee and came out strongly for it in his speech. But which platform? The one he helped craft, or the one Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had to force on the very people gathered who cheered Booker on? That fact wasn't lost on everyone, " @CoryBooker, the co-chair of the platform committee, has yet to explain why 'God' and 'Jerusalem' were omitted in the first place."
And then there was that politically and grammatically awkward moment when Booker insisted paying taxes was the equivalent of patriotism, or did he? "He gets a huge ovation that turns into a 'U.S.A.' chant. They're 'U.S.A.' ing at the idea of patriotism, presumably. Not taxes. Oh, but paying taxes = patriotism. Or, specifically, being asked to pay is patriotism. Who is the patriot in that grammatical construction? I think it's the folks who are asking other people to pay."
However you interpret it, it's unclear how it might ultimately track in a country founded in large part from a tax rebellion, one in which everyone seeks to limit their tax exposure as much as possible with an Obama administration known to have some high-profile tax scofflaws: "36 Obama aides owe $833,000 in back taxes". Did Booker mean to tell the party faithful that Obama's White House team isn't very patriotic? It wouldn't be the first time he slighted Obama.
Along with Booker's betrayal of Obama on Bain back in May, which he promptly ran away from when he was called out for it, he couldn't even manage to spell Obama's name right when taking out a full page ad (here in pdf) at the same convention he couldn't manage to get a prime-time speaking spot - perhaps due to the earlier Bain business.
Finally, as if all that weren't enough, Booker managed to hurt his ankle bad enough at the convention that he was visibly limping when he took to the podium to scream at people for ten minutes, at times, barely stopping to catch his breath. The Democrat faithful can say what they please, but for Cory Booker, a week of mis-steps, mistakes caused by sloppiness, preceded by a damaging dig at a sitting Democrat president capped off by a controversial rant does not suddenly make it a good convention convention for him. By the end of it, even NJ Governor Chris Christie was piling on.
“I have a great personal relationship and professional relationship with Cory Booker. … I’m confident that we’ll continue to work very well together after he gets home so we can deal with the really severe financial difficulties that are going on in Newark that we’re running out of time to deal with,” said Christie.
We know Cory Booker was physically limping on the way to the podium Wednesday in Charlotte. What we don't yet know is how badly his political career may be limping on the heels of a less than stellar 2012 Democrat nation convention for him.