Certainly there are those who have admired Sen. Cory Booker from afar who are now somewhat flummoxed (I’ve always wanted to use that word) at his decision not to support President Barack Obama’s historic deal with Iran. Some, who are strongly pro-Israel, no doubt find themselves pleasantly flummoxed. Others who aren’t quite so reflexively supportive of Israel no matter what Israel does are somewhat more disturbingly flummoxed. After all, as someone who has been frequently compared to the president as a rising African American star with national potential, why choose this particularly thorny issue to keep his distance? And why has he chosen to make that move so soon, when he’s barely had time to even unpack and settle into his new office?
Because Cory Booker is a good politician who knows who’s buttering his bread. And please don’t confuse being a good politician with being a politician who does the right thing when necessary, nor should a good politician be compared with a good person. Not the same thing at all. A good politician is someone who knows what it takes to get elected and make themselves stand out from the pack, and will do it. Being a good politician is a skill, not a moral calling. And being the skilled politician that he is, Booker knows he needs the Israel lobby to help him get to where he wants to go. He also knows that the President’s poll numbers are pretty low at the moment so there’s no better time to keep POTUS at a distance than right now. Plus, some highly influential progressive Democrats such as New York’s Chuck Schumer are also slamming Obama’s Iran agreement, which gives him some good cover if he needs it. Which he just might.
Interestingly enough, Democratic Party Chairperson Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who hails from the extremely pro-Israel area of South Florida where the Jewish vote is particularly strong, has also flummoxed more than a few observers by siding with President Obama in supporting the Iran Nuclear Agreement and opposing further sanctions. Specifically, here’s what she said in her own statement from her website:
November 28, 2013
Wasserman Schultz Statement on Iran Nuclear Agreement
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) released the following statement regarding President Obama’s announcement of an interim deal with Iran:
“I commend President Obama, Secretary Kerry, Under Secretary Sherman and their team for the tremendous amount of work they put into these negotiations. This agreement provides a framework to stop the development of a nuclear weapon in Iran while we work to negotiate a broad, comprehensive deal to permanently dismantle their nuclear weapons capability.
“The transparency requirements in this deal are critical and will allow the P5+1 to closely monitor on a daily basis whether Iran is complying with this agreement, enabling sanctions to be reimposed and additional sanctions quickly levied if they are found in violation. This deal represents successful diplomacy, but Iran must understand, as the President has said, that all options remain on the table to ensure its nuclear program poses no threat to the United States and to our allies.”
Somewhat predictably, Wasserman Schultz has been getting body slammed by many members of her own constituency and pretty much every pro-Israel lobbying organization in existence. A lot of less-than-pretty things are being said about her decision to support the president, but essentially it boils down to questions about whether or not she is now the Jewish version of an Uncle Tom, whatever that may be. But if anybody would have been expected to break from the President on this issue, my money would have been on Schultz. She has the high profile, and there is no way she can get re-elected without the Jewish vote in South Florida. Which means she took a considerable risk in supporting the President’s agreement with Iran. Would she have supported him if she thought what Obama was doing put Israel at extreme risk? I seriously, seriously doubt it.
Let me say it again; there is a difference between a good politician and a politician who does what is good. Sen. Cory Booker will undoubtedly do good things in the future. I’m confident of that. But this is not one of those things.
Keith Owens (AKA Black Liberal Boomer) is a Detroit-based writer who has worked for The Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s alternative newsweekly the Metro Times, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and other newspapers. He was also a nationally syndicated columnist with Universal Press Syndicate for three years beginning in 1993.