APPRAISING THE RUBES: Nauseation nation!

MONDAY, MAY 21, 2012

Part 1—What the first Booker said: Does Cory Booker know what he’s talking about? The first Cory Booker, that is?

Yesterday morning, on Meet the Press, the first Cory Booker sounded off good. It’s time to drop all this “crap” about Bain, the Newark mayor said:
BOOKER (5/20/12): Well, two points I want to make real quick. First of all, I think it's a race for President Obama to remind the American public the kind of things he's been doing and stop letting the other side steal his narrative. He's a guy that's cut taxes on small business, the lowest discretionary spending we've had in decades in the United States. Start telling the truth about the Obama record to let people know that not only is he doing the kind of things, cutting taxes on the majority of Americans, but he's also doing things to stimulate the economy, the economy's getting better.

As far as that stuff, I have to just say, from a very personal level, I'm not about to sit here and indict private equity. It's to me, it's just—we're getting to a ridiculous point in America, especially that I know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital's record, it ain't—they've done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses, And this, to me, I'm very uncomfortable with.


I talk to the White House quite often. I'm a surrogate for the Obama campaign. The messages that they're sending me out to do, out to talk about, is nothing about this.

They're talking about very clearly, the average American, middle-class Americans. In fact, over 90 percent of Americans have seen tax cuts under this president. Small businesses, like the ones that are in my city, have benefited tremendously from incentives for investment, rewards for creating jobs, rewards for hiring, hiring veterans. So on the issues that matter in the communities, I see the Obama administration having stepped up and just needing to get their voice out more. Even Obama, Obamacare, as people talk about, when people start—when you poll Obamacare, it doesn't do well. But when you start polling the aspects of it, people in this country support that legislation.

But the last point I'll make is this kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides. It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity, stop attacking Jeremiah Wright. This stuff has got to stop because what it does is it undermines, to me, what this country should be focused on. It's a distraction from the real issues. It's either going to be a small campaign about this crap or it's going to be a big campaign, in my opinion, about the issues that the American public cares about.
Later in the day, a second Booker appeared on YouTube. He said he wanted to make his earlier statements clear.

“Let me be clear,” this new Booker said, creating massive confusion. “Mitt Romney has made his business record a centerpiece of his campaign, he’s talked about himself as a job creator. And therefore, it is reasonable, and in fact I encourage it, for the Obama campaign to examine that record and to discuss it. I have no problem with that.”

In fairness, it’s hard to argue with that—and this second Booker said more. “I believe that Mitt Romney in many ways is not being completely honest with his role and his record, even while a businessperson, and is shaping it to serve his political interest, not necessarily including all the facts of his time there,” the new Booker said. To watch his full statement, click here.

Booker seemed to be of two minds about Bain as a campaign issue. For ourselves, we wondered about his statement on Meet the Press, especially the part in which he alleged voter nauseation.

For the record, Booker’s statement on Meet the Press didn’t quite make sense. “I'm not about to sit here and indict private equity,” he said. “...Stop attacking private equity.” But people! An indictment of Romney’s conduct at Bain isn’t necessarily an indictment of private equity as a whole. It’s an indictment of Romney’s behavior and values, not those of anyone else.

It’s also worth noting that Booker advanced a rather “austerian” view of Obama’s achievements. According to Booker, Obama has been cutting taxes, and he has produced “the lowest discretionary spending we've had in decades.” This sounds like the defense of a Republican president’s record.

That said, is it possible that Booker I was right in his overall message? Should the Obama campaign focus more on a positive message, less on attacks against Romney?

We don’t have a firm view about that; political strategy isn’t our focus. But we think it’s worth asking if Booker could be right in his diagnosis of the nausea he sees sweeping the land.

Years ago, Sartre wrote La Nausee (“The Nausea”), a novel about a dejected historian who becomes convinced that inanimate objects and situations encroach on his ability to define himself. French writer Simone de Beauvoir claimed that "The Nausea" grants consciousness a remarkable independence and gives reality the full weight of its sense.

And no, we really aren’t making that up. Though Wikipedia may be—click here.

Sartre described the nausea of the late 1930s in his famously thoughtful novel. Presumably, this isn’t the type of nauseation Booker I had in mind.

But as we watch an uncomfortably close race shape up between Obama and Romney, we often wonder if liberals and Dems understand the public’s perspective on an array of issues. With that in mind, is it possible that Booker I was right to some extent? Is it possible that voters are “nauseated,” or at least unmoved, by the unfolding attacks on Romney’s conduct at Bain?

For ourselves, we think the liberal world has done a very poor job explaining the problem with Romney’s conduct at Bain. But then, if it weren’t for bungled reactions to issues, would we liberals ever react to any issues at all?

All week long, we’ll look at liberal reaction to current issues and pseudo-issues. Question: Do we liberals understand the rubes at whom we often direct our derision?

Unwashed as they are, these yokels do vote! Do we understand the ways these hayseeds see the world?

Back in the day, Sartre nailed it, explaining the way inanimate objects were getting under historians’ skin. But do we liberals understand the shape of modern nauseation? Would Beauvoir say that we are giving current reality “the full weight of its sense?”

How clearly do we understand our political world? Do inquiring minds want to know?

Tomorrow: Explaining Bain


  1. It is interesting that Booker was saying what Obama said last campaign; that he wanted a positive campaign, not one that was based on attacking the opponent. This year Obama's campaign seems based on negative attacks on Romney much more than positive self referral. The difference in his approach is pretty stark.

    1. What's wrong with negative campaigning? Besides, I don't think Obama was arguing for immunity against attacks on his record and policies, which are fair game in a democracy.

  2. "the rubes at whom we often direct our derision"

    Is there really any evidence that we do this?

    I kid, of course.

    The only person we hate more than the rubes is the person who points out our loathing of the rubes.

  3. If there's anyone with a keen sense of what voters want to hear, it's Bob Somerby, who, 13 years on, thinks enough still hasn't been said about how snarky comments about earth-toned clothing sunk the Gore campaign.

    1. If that is your impression of what Bob has been writing of for all of these years, perhaps you should just stick to your "Dick and Jane" readings.

      Horace Feathers

    2. No, over the past 13 years, Bob has tackled other subjects. Like how Bush never really tried to lie us into war with those "16 words" in the State of the Union address. After all, despite the utter lack of evidence to the contrary, how do we know that some time, Saddam didn't try to buy uranium from somewhere in Africa?

      Oh, and we also got the frequent reminders of how utterly dumb Maureen Dowd, Gail Collins and Rachel Maddow are. Can't say that often enough, I suppose.

    3. He's also written a great deal on education issues. Do you have any specific complaints about that as well, or are you just here to take a piss.

    4. Why does someone with so little interest in Somerby's topics remain here posting to the comments?

    5. Because it's a free country and nobody appointed you thread nanny.

      Now cacambo, yeah he has written on education issues. And it followed the same pattern: He had something important to say at first, said it, couldn't think of anything else to say, so he repeated it. Over. And over. And over.

      And of course, picked out his own "education punching bag" while he was at it. Michelle Rhee is to his education columns what Rachel Maddow is to his media analysis --- and excuse to say the same thing. Over and over and over and over and over . . .

    6. The media keep being bad & Somerby keeps pointing it out.

      I'm bored of that.

      Anonymous Idiot

    7. Bob has covered many topics, often ably. But it is ridiculous for him to claim a well-tuned sense of what members of the public do and don't want to hear, which is what he does here. He clamors for more attention to the '99 Gore campaign and press misconduct. Have you ever heard one person who is not Bob Somerby say that that was what was missing from contemporary journalism?

    8. Somerby: "We don’t have a firm view about that; political strategy isn’t our focus. But we think it’s worth asking if Booker could be right in his diagnosis of the nausea he sees sweeping the land."

      flipyrwhig: "it is ridiculous for him to claim a well-tuned sense of what members of the public do and don't want to hear, which is what he does here. He clamors for more attention to the '99 Gore campaign"

      Shorter flipyrwhig: "Why, yes, I *am* an idiot. I was hoping you wouldn't point it out."

    9. Bob wonders if "liberals" understand what non-lïberals think about politics. That doesn't match up very well with his crusade to re-open meta-level criticism of criticism of the Al Gore campaign, which has no resemblance to anything a rank and file, not-very-political person would ever want to hear about. More discussion of how the press treated Gore is about as relevant as more discussion of Mitt Romney's rooftop dog.

    10. "More discussion of how the press treated Gore is" not present here.

      There. Fixed that for you, lackwit.

  4. Left hurls slurs, racist epithets at Cory Booker for being honest about Bain attacks; Update: Obama edits Booker’s follow-up video

    1. "being honest about Bain attacks"

      Booker has an *opinion* about attacking Romney based on his record at Bain. He may be right, he may be wrong.

      "Honesty" doesn't enter into it.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Was Cory Booker "nauseated" by the Obama ad featuring employees fired and left without pensions?

    What made him want to throw up, that the ads were equivalent to the 75 page Republican plan to join Obama and Jeremiah Wright at the hip?

    What Booker has done is repulsive. In an attempt to further his own career he torpedoes the Obama campaign by pretending that Obama and the Democratic party hate venture capitalists.

    He is using the same tactics that Republicans have used to charge the Obama campaign with anti-Mormon propaganda.

    Hilary Rosen is an Obama spokesperson. Hilary Rosen attacked Ann Romney. Ergo, Barack Obama is anti-Mormon.

    Don't believe me?

    Read this article that has gone viral on Right-wing blogs.

    1. "What Booker has done is repulsive. In an attempt to further his own career he torpedoes the Obama campaign by pretending that Obama and the Democratic party hate venture capitalists."

      I agree completely. I think, however, he succeeded only in torpedoing his chances for a future presidential run.

  7. The Obama campaign edited a relevant comment from the suddenly all important Booker's video, this is a big so what, but clearly CNN was following a lead taylor made for our own cool aid swilling clown David in Ca. The troubling thing is how hard CNN (not Fox) was going after this non point in an interview with Obama's flack. The powers that be used Obama to unseat The Clintons and he may have served his purpose.

    As to Bain, well, NOW the Daily Howler finds it all problematic, but he has previously used Bain as an example of what voters SHOULD be confronted with (as opposed to, I think it was something about a Dog on the hood of a car) and what journalists should be investigating. Nothing wrong with doing a rethink, but I'm just sayin.....

    Mitt Romney, already born rich, spent years getting richer as a job killing corporate raider, and he's proud of it. And yes Bob, he wasn't in High School at the time. Now the weak kneed Howler wants us to reconsider the existentialists! like thats going to turn the heads of the Davids in Ca. As John Candy said in an existential moment "I think not, therefore, I am not."
    Is the fact that Romney was a repugnant whore going to play with the voters? The way CNN tries to downplay it may actually be a good sign. But like the Daily Howler, I have no idea. But Obama's refusal to back away from this feels a little like Political Guts. There's no reason to be sure it won't pay off.

    1. As usual, Bob is convinced that liberals in the media aren't doing it Just So. It's not that they shouldn't talk about Bain, it's that there's only one right way to do it, which is to talk about "looting." Any other way to talk about it is an embarrassing failure that doesn't take into account the audience. Only Bob's framing will do. This is how he operates. You have to say that the Gore campaign started being knocked around in 1999, not 2000. You have to point out that black kids are improving on the NAEP. You have to say that Bain and health insurers are "looting.". You can't say that it was wrong to say that Saddam Hussein sought uranium from Africa because that includes more nations than just Niger. Every moment that goes by wherein some other way of telling a story is on view, not Bob's Own Holy Writ, is a calamitous lost opportunity that explains why liberals lose at politics.

  8. If I had chowed out at a table full of food, someone was coughing and sneezing at and over...and if I knew I was going to have to continue to chow at this table, I might be a bit nauseated myself.

    As to what 'rubes'think...lets' see, Sunday School/Mom/angry Dad/he said/she said words like 'that is a harsh personal attack', 'distractions from the real issues Americans care about' 'small campaigns about crap' v. what?

    Complex, seemingly endless, descriptions, delivered in a lexicon few are familiar with, of financial 'transactions' that may have drained 'wealth' and 'prosperity' in opaque ways from the the nation and it citizens. And delivered sans pictures. Yeah, which story will Americans, rubes or not, and the MSM, be attracted to? Is it close?

    Back to Drexel Burnahm days...little has changed.