The whole world was talking about Trump anyway. Booker's turn on the stage played to an empty house. And he's lucky it did. He was awful! From the transcript:
I want an Attorney General who is committed to supporting law enforcement and securing law and order. But that is not enough.... Law and order without justice is unobtainable, they are inextricably tied together. If there is no justice, there is no peace.What does that have to do with Jeff Sessions? How does Booker tie Sessions to the notion of law and order without justice? Booker is taking the extreme step of testifying against his Senate colleague, with whom he cosponsored a Congressional Gold Medal for those who marched in Selma, Alabama. What does Booker have on Sessions?
The Alabama State Troopers on the Edmond Pettis Bridge were seeking law and order. The marchers were seeking justice – and ultimately the greater peace.
Booker doesn't say. He resorts to an embarrassing repetition of the not-very-catchy empty phrase "but his record indicates that he won’t":
If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t.He varies the phrase to "His record indicates":
He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t.
He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t.
He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but his record indicates he won’t.
His record indicates that as Attorney General he would obstruct the growing national bipartisan movement toward criminal justice reform.Throughout this entire sequence, I was waiting for Booker to get into the record and start persuading us that the record really justifies this conclusion. That never happened. And as I read the text this morning, I can see that Booker's beef is that Sessions is too much of a humble servant, taking the law seriously and doing what it requires. Booker is demanding something most of us don't want: an Attorney General who takes sides.
His record indicates that we cannot count on him to support state and national efforts toward bringing justice to a justice system that people on both sides of the aisle readily admit is biased against the poor, drug addicted, mentally ill, and people of color.
His record indicates that at a time when even the FBI director is speaking out about implicit racial bias in policing and the need to address it; at a time when the last two Attorneys General have taken steps to fix our broken criminal justice system; and at a time when the Justice Department he would lead has uncovered systemic abuses in police departments all over the United States including Ferguson, including Newark; Senator Sessions would not continue to lead urgently needed change.
Booker wants someone who has favorites that he will defend and support. He's saying he wants someone biased, impassioned, and politicized. And Sessions is not that man. If you pay attention and think, it works — for most people — as an endorsement of Sessions.
What was even worse for Booker was what happened after he finished. He'd gone first on a panel of 6 — all black men. (Watch the entire panel at C-SPAN here, beginning at 3:38:24.) The second man to speak was Larry D. Thompson, who spoke in concrete detail about working with Sessions. Suddenly, we're in the world of evidence and real life.
The third speaker was Representative John Lewis, who spoke of history and the wrongs of the past but had nothing fact-based to say about Sessions. After Lewis came another man who, like Thompson, spoke from personal experience.
Then we got Cedric Richmond, chairman of the Black Congressional Caucus, who, like Booker and Lewis, spoke in political generalities, with nothing specific about Sessions. The last speaker was another man like Thompson, who knew and worked with Sessions, spoke warmly about his personal interaction with Sessions, and vouched for Sessions's racial virtue.
I thought it was immensely embarrassing for Booker, Lewis, and Richmond. Richmond even used the "back of the bus" complaint about this panel going last:
"To have a senator, a House member and a living civil rights legend testify at the end of all of this is the equivalent of being made to go to the back of the bus. It's a petty strategy. I don't mind being last, but to have a living legend like John Lewis treated like that is beyond the pale."Who falls for that sort of sophistry? Why did Booker participate in this awkward drama?
I got the impression we were supposed to see this as a hint of the presidential candidate Booker could be. Maybe he could a great candidate some day. Some people might think it's a shame that Trump got all the attention yesterday and the spotlight didn't shine on Cory Booker. I say he's lucky. He was terrible!