Thursday, March 20, 2014


Cory Booker had dinner recently with Ted Cruz, and he wants us to know that he's going to keep trying this "Kumbaya" thing:
Sen. Cory Booker said Thursday that when he met last week with Republican firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz for dinner, they had a "great intellectual discussion" and "no filibusters." ...

"He and I sat for three hours looking for common ground. We found some good areas that we agree on." ...

"There was no filibusters going on, he did not read 'Green Eggs and Ham,'" Booker cracked. "We had probably one of the best constitutional law discussions since I got out of law school. And I loved it, we just had a great intellectual discussion, but we quickly moved to ... there are trends in the economy that have nothing to do with partisanship that are just bad."

Citing wage stagnation and youth unemployment, Booker added: "We talked about what the facts were and then started trying to find ways we might get solutions."

... [Booker] said he intends to sit down with every Republican in the Senate.

"I'm going to meet with every single Republican, every single one of my colleagues," Booker said....
BooMan isn't terribly optimistic about this, but he holds out a little hope:
Getting Ted Cruz to drop his act for even fifteen minutes and talk seriously about policy is an accomplishment in itself. I doubt their conversation will lead anywhere, although it might....

Sen. Booker seems to understand what it is going to take for him to have any influence in the Senate. I take that as a positive.
What he means by those last two sentences is this:
Most people would agree that Teddy Kennedy was an outspoken liberal, but his name is tied to the much-reviled No Child Left Behind education bill signed by President George W. Bush. Whether you like teaching to the test or not, it was this willingness to work with the Republicans that made Kennedy the most effective senator of the last half-century. These days, big legislation like NCLB is seemingly impossible, but the principle is the same. To be an effective senator, you have to build relationships with the other side and work constructively with legislators who you may be denouncing in public. Maybe you disagree about the proper size of government but you both have parents with Alzheimer's disease. You can agree to set aside more money for the NIH to do research on prevention and treatment.
I'm sorry, but the apparent "dropping of the act" by Ted Cruz doesn't impress me. Cruz sincerely believes that government is evil (except when it does stuff he likes) and that "liberalism" and "socialism" (which he thinks are the same thing) must be destroyed. He thinks the Democratic Party is the embodiment of both liberalism and socialism, so it must be shrunk into insignificance.

I'm sure he can have a civil dinner conversation with an ideological enemy. I'm sure they can agree on some things -- Booker regularly defends Wall Street, so I imagine they can find some common ground on the notion that "attacking job creators" sustains high unemployment.

But that's the thing: Democrats and Republicans can find common ground when Democrats take positions that exactly matc Republican positions. But when it comes to crafting legislation, D.C. Republicans balk as soon as any ideas from even the moderate wing of liberalism are included. Booker's a centrist, but he's not a conservative -- if he were trying to write a bill Cruz would vote for, he could try meeting Cruz partway, but the areas on which Cruz would be willing to compromise his ideology could be summed up in one word: nothing. A bill about schools? Yes to charters, no to anything that was good for public schools with unionized teachers. A Bill concerning Wall Street? Yes to business-friendly provisions, no to anything that protects consumers.

And even less-crazy Republicans don't want anything positive to happen to ordinary citizens between now and the end of President Obama's term for which he and other Democrats might take credit. Effectively, they're embargoing a Democratic White House and Senate, in the hope that doing so will persuade the public to turn against the Democratic Party. (To a considerable extent, that seems to be working.)

Booker is trying to do what many people have said President Obama should have been doing all these years: schmoozing the opposition. Booker may get a few favorable Maureen Dowd columns out of this, but he's not going to succeed. It's not exactly the same as schmoozing by a president, but it's going to fail the way that would have failed, because Republicans seek only to reduce the Democratic P{arty to as low and degraded a state as possible.


Victor said...

You might actually be able to go and enjoy a sashimi dinner in the ocean with a Great White Shark.

But that shark still looks at you as just another potential future meal.

Let Booker make even a teensy mistake, and Ted Cruz-ader, and EVERY single Republican, will be on him, like sharks on chum.

Having said that, I DO approve of people meeting together outside of the Capitol Building.

Not much good will come of Democrats meeting Republicans, but there's always a possibility that some teensy thing happening.

Anonymous said...

Many Democrats agree with Republicans on Wall Street. Especially the establishment that counts on the cities that are the centers of finance for it's political power and funding.

This isn't betraying Democratic ideals, it's helping your constituents and pumping money into your home turf.

Monty said...

"Booker is trying to do what many people have said President Obama should have been doing all these years: schmoozing the opposition."

Uhm, doesn't that pretty much describe Obama's first term efforts?

Steve M. said...

To hear his critics tell it, he didn't devote enough time to having drinks with them a la Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill. (Never mind the fact that the reports of their great across-the-aisle friendship is largely a myth.)

Daro said...

Booker is a rat. I wish it was more sophisticated than that.