Tag Archive: Bob Menendez

Cory Booker, here’s what I expect of you on Iran

Cory BookerHuffPo 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.


Backing Menendez: It’s a dangerous game NJ Democrats are playing tonight

Read the 68-page indictment.

The problem with being a party activist is that sometimes you get stuck having to defend people, or situations, before you’re in any kind of position to know whether you should.

Tonight, we saw:

  • an avalanche of clamorous, full-throated confidence in New Jersey’s senior senator, expressed in official statements from NJ Dem electeds.
  • Twitter account @IStandWithBob with only 35 followers (mostly reporters).

    Calls for resignation The loyalty’s all very nice. And I hope to hell he’s innocent; he’s my senator, too. But  – – at the same time, two powerfully-written editorials came out – Star-Ledger and APP – both calling for Menendez to resign. The Ledger calls him a “tarnished defendant,” notes the legal fight could go on for years, and implores Menendez to “spare us the drama.” APP’s is rough stuff, telling Menendez he’s “done,” and “don’t play the aggrieved public figure fighting for justice, and don’t pretend that you have some overarching obligation to your supporters to stay on the job.”

    Ouch. But that’s what voters who read newspapers are going to be absorbing with their coffee in the morning. And I would bet that those sentiments will have a great deal more to do with shaping how voters see all this than the all the energetic Democratic party attaboys.

    Backlash risk This Democratic display carries a backlash risk – if it ends up that Menendez is found guilty, or has to resign. New Jersey Democrats, particularly those from North Jersey, are already perceived by many voters as corrupt. And only some of that due to Gov. Christie’s political targeting as U.S. Attorney.

    You’ve got to have sympathy for some of these folks who were so vocal tonight for Menendez. It comes with the territory. They have little choice. But Democrats, and the NJDSC itself, risk being seen as out of step with most New Jerseyans. Most people will either take a wait-and-see attitude, or outright want anybody staggering under that many federal corruption charges to step aside and let somebody govern who isn’t also battling in court.

    2015 races And with every Assembly seat up in November, and even the looming question of who’s next for governor, this is not a good time for Democrats to be fundamentally out of step with NJ voters. Not on something as big as the leader of NJ’s congressional delegation. And not on something as sensitive to weary Jersey voters as corruption.

    Wild clapping & hooting Tonight, I watched Menendez’ press conference. Have to say, it was a little weird. There was wild clapping, hooting and cheering at everything he said. And that’s because crowded in with the reporters were Democratic loyalists, plus people billed as anti-FEMA activists. The anti-FEMA folks were apparently organized by Menendez staff to rally at the same hotel one hour before the Senator’s statement, with flyers that promised “food will be served”.  

    I’m sure it was good staff work to make all that happen. But frankly, it struck me as kind of Hudson County. All this loud, unquestioning devotion seems dissonant. And I hope as Assembly campaigns heat up, and posturing begins in earnest to replace Christie, that voters don’t look at Democrats and remember a night they tripped over each other to support the powerful guy who … just … might … be …guilty.