Newark Mayork Cory Booker went off-script while appearing on Meet the Press Sunday morning as an Obama surrogate, and was punished for it. You are not allowed to go off-script in politics, only kayfabe.
Pushed to defend the Obama campaign's aggressive anti-Bain ads, Booker declined to "indict private equity," pointing to the role of companies like Bain in encouraging job growth, noting that Americans were sick of political attacks on both sides, equating the Bain issue to Jeremiah Wright, and characterizing the attacks as "nauseating," or, basically, the kind of commentary you'd get from a typical American paying some attention to politics but not rah-rah'ing it for one team or the other.
That little bit of truth-telling, though, was apparently too much for the truth squad at Obama 2012. First the mayor took to the Twitter, defending the substance of his opinion while re-enforcing his support for the president. "I will fight hard for Obama to win. But just as his 08 campaign did, I believe we must elevate & not denigrate. This is the Obama I know," he tweeted. Not controversial, just your typical post-partisan fare, the kind of rhetoric Obama traded in liberally in the 2008 campaign.
But this is not 2008! So, that Sunday night Booker's political staff rushed out a video where the Newark mayor basically said, never mind, Bain's fair game, and even "encouraged" the Obama campaign's focus on Romney's time at Bain to continue.
The eagle-eyed commentators at DailyKos were quick to suggest Cory Booker is a crypto-Republican who takes Wall Street money anyway. Because we know, naturally, that Cory Booker is the only Democrat in office today who takes donations from Wall Street.
Of course Booker's 12-hour 180-degree evolution on private equity is emblematic of Democrats' perplexed relationship with private equity, and Wall Street generally. Just as President Obama was ramping up his attacks on Bain, he called on private equity titans in New York City, hat in hand. Liberals admit regulatory capture's occurred in the banking industry, but insist more regulation is the answer.
Cory Booker's break neck flip flop is a dangerous indicator, too, of the ideological rigidness being enforced in President Obama's Democratic Party, lethal when mixed with economic illiteracy.
A local Democratic power-broker in the state assembly tried to school Booker: "It's not about whether private equiity is good or bad, it's how Mitt Romney, at Bain Captal, utilized his position at a private equity firm to choose to create wealth as opposed to jobs," Assemblyman John Wisniewski said. "And it is a real issue, when you have the Romney campaign talking about job creation."
See? Attacks on Bain aren't naked attempts to paint Mitt Romney as some sort of after-school special corporate super-villain. They're meant to explain how wealth destroys jobs!