HuffPo runs down the 15 wobbly Democrats who could make or break Pres. Obama’s signature piece of diplomacy, the nuclear agreement with Iran. Listing Cory Booker, they cite a tweet from ally Rev. Al Sharpton, reminding Booker that posting nice quotes about war and poverty is inconsistent with a vote that might pull us back into battle. Today, NJ.com says Booker’s caught between Obama and the pro-Israel lobby that gave him more money for his 2014 election than they gave anybody else in Congress.
Not every pro-Dem Jewish group lobbying Booker is anti-deal (shout out to pro-Israel pro-peace J Street and NJDC). But neither has the power and reach of AIPAC, to which both my disappointing congressman Leonard Lance and Sen. Bob Menendez adhere. Menendez has lost me; his hard-line stance on Cuba (where today our American embassy opened) and war hawk views on Iran are troubling, especially for a guy who was senior Dem at Senate Foreign Relations till this mess forced a demotion.
But back to Booker. I don’t always agree with him (except on vegetarianism, holla!). But on this, I expect two things from him:
(1) I expect Cory Booker to respect and support diplomacy – particularly when the alternative is likely war. I expect Cory to run for president himself one day and believe he can be elected. And if high-stakes diplomatic negotiations under a Booker administration have been conducted with the diligence and intelligence that the President and Secy of State Kerry have shown here, I believe a President Booker would expect and deserve support from senators in the position he is in now. Doubt me? Look how much Hillary Clinton’s Iraq War cheerleading is costing her right now with ‘her’ base, voting to authorize the war machine of George W. Bush, a president unlike Obama and one who cared little for diplomacy or even facts.
(2) I expect Booker to decide what is right for this country’s interests – and no other. And even in the face of close friends like Schmuley Boteach, whose next book is titled The Israel Warrior’s Handbook. The celebrity rabbi is anti-deal, thinks Obama suffers from naiveté about the Iranians and likes to tell religious scare stories about them. That’s fine but he’s not the one who has the responsibility of a vote in the U.S. Congress. Boteach just published a heavy-handed piece in The Observer recounting yet again his personal history with Booker, even as he assures Jewish audiences that Cory would “never vote against Israel” or it’s “game over”. You know, considering all the friendship.
Boteach seems to be suggesting that the Obama administration give cover to Booker, with a pre-arranged face-saving vote against the deal. Unclear if such a thing is even possible given the numbers. I do believe this vote is career-defining. And I wish Senator Booker my best.